Why Chelsea’s civil war could cost Mauricio Pochettino his job

The continued external uncertainty over Mauricio Pochettino’s job at Chelsea only reflects similar internal uncertainty.

Co-owners Todd Boehly, Behdad Eghbali and Jose E Feliciano, among others, remain undecided on the Argentine’s future ahead of their end-of-season review.

Pochettino has just one year left on his initial two-year deal, although there is an option for a further year extension.

And while performance has continued to improve, the underlying tensions behind it pose a threat to workplace safety.

Has Chelsea’s form improved enough to save Mauricio Pochettino’s place?

We’ve come a long way from lemons. While the plan was always to assess Pochettino’s future at the end of the season, there were times when an early sacking would not have come as much of a shock.

The aim was always an immediate return to the top four and the Champions League, a necessary step to balance the balance sheet after a £1.1 billion transfer outlay, but a sixth or seventh place finish could now be enough to secure Pochettino’s position.

On the back of three straight wins and a draw at Villa Park, there is a sense that Chelsea are on a sustained upward trajectory for the first time under the Boehly-Clearlake regime.

In fact, Pochettino’s side are fourth in a Premier League table since 2024, a statistic that had the Argentine physically applauding in Tuesday’s press conference. They have also lost three of their last 19 games and have scored the second-most goals of any top-flight team in their last 13 games.

Of course, in their 13 games they also suffered demoralizing draws from winning positions against relegated sides Burnley and Sheffield United and were embarrassed by Arsenal.

Throughout the season, they have conceded the most goals of any Chelsea team in the Premier League era (61) and have such a major disciplinary problem that they have broken the yellow card record (101, now up to 104) . No one is suggesting that all defects have been fixed.

Pochettino also recently said he had not spoken to the owners for “months”, only communicating through sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley.

However, Boehly spoke positively of Chelsea’s recent performances in a rare public appearance at the Sportico conference in Los Angeles. He will speak again in Qatar on Wednesday, where we could hear more information about Pochettino’s future.

What did a back split reveal?

One of the more subtle yet significant issues in the internal breakdown in communications between Pochettino and the owner was the hiring of Brentford specialist Bernardo Cueva.

It may have seemed like a non-event, but Pochettino publicly rejected managers from the market when Cueva’s appointment was first mooted, believing it to breach the close-knit coaching staff he has built and transport from club to club.

The Argentinian eventually admitted he was open to signing Cueva, who has contributed to Brentford’s outstanding record, but still reinforced it was the owners’ idea and they may not allow him to move on lane line.

“I am the head coach and I will decide whether some people will be with me or not, or whether or not I will add more people to the touchline,” Pochettino said.

“Sometimes I work (on compensation pieces), sometimes Jesus Perez (his assistant). We are a staff of coaches who already work on kicking. We don’t just work in the gym or the tactical area.

“(Cueva’s arrival) is the idea of ​​the boss and the sporting directors and we are very supportive.

“We are aware that the club wants to create a global area about the set pieces to reinforce the two people here. If some people come here to add their knowledge and help us to be better, welcome. We can’t go against the things that can help us be better and maybe help us win games.”

However, this directly undermined what Pochettino had previously claimed and was clearly not his choice. Given that he already has little control over transfer business and only has a relatively short-term deal, he may have felt that appointing Cueva was too much of an infringement on his authority at Chelsea.

This is just one indication of the internal civil war between Pochettino and the ownership/sporting executives, who continue to give him little or no public support or praise.

Pochettino seems to use his press conferences to communicate with both the owner and the fans, often justifying his own worth and performance to the media.

One of the more troubling trends has been the constant sidestepping of tough questions by saying “ask them,” meaning owners and athletic directors, highlighting this backstabbing.

His lack of control over the impending sale this summer of Conor Gallagher, his on-field captain for much of this season, will also add to tensions.

Pochettino also regularly highlights the impact of the club’s repeated injury crises and has called on senior players to take more of the blame for their poor form, trying to excuse their own failings.

“Football is about supporting each other, trusting each other and feeling the confidence in each other,” he said recently.

“We have to trust the players and they have to trust us. The owners have to trust us, trust our vision and vision. The sporting directors need to understand that we are the people who deal directly with the players and the performance and the medical staff.

“Clubs that win titles work that way. It’s about trusting and having a vision that this is the way we should operate and work.”

And last week’s “maybe we’re not happy” speech, suggesting he could leave Chelsea of ​​his own accord this summer, was as much a threat to ownership as an honest admission. If she doesn’t feel the necessary confidence, which she certainly didn’t have, she could force him out.

Could Pochettino choose to leave Chelsea?

Pochettino has since hit back at his comments about quitting, saying on Tuesday: “I never said I wasn’t thinking about the future. The plan is to start pre-season – the date we’re going to start – and then it’s not in my hands to be here or not to be here.

“People talk a lot this season. People talk about many things. If you asked me about all the things that have happened in the last 10 months, then I think going into Europe would be very good for us.

“But are we going to judge people because of the results or are we going to judge people because of the process that was put in place and all the circumstances that we had (to deal with)? It’s a hard thing to judge.”

It was also clear that he was happy in his role, but this instant withdrawal reflected deeper anxieties about his continued job insecurity. He seems well aware that he could lose his job as early as next week and that even the final two games of the season, away to Brighton and home to Bournemouth, could prove decisive.

The gap between qualification for the Europa League and the Europa Conference League has also been reported as a sticking point for the Argentine’s continued employment, although given the uncertainty surrounding the qualification positions, this would seem particularly tough.

But it remains clear that despite the improvement on the pitch, Pochettino could still be out of a job next week if tensions are not resolved and results don’t go his way.

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