So Chelsea look like they are going to go for Mauricio Pochettino as the next permanent manager. Given that results really haven’t picked up under Frank Lampard, there was never a real chance that Frank would be returning on a permanent basis. And I wouldn’t have put him in place as permanent manager anyway. Not only because it would be a bit ridiculous to put someone back in charge who hadn’t won anything with the club previously, but because I think there are still some things that Frank needs to work on in his managerial approach. He’s clearly stepped in at a difficult moment for the club and he should be thanked for that. But the same defensive issues that have often plagued Frank’s managerial career remain. He clearly wants to take a front foot approach and play with intent to score goals. Too often however, that means that opposition teams can easily create scoring opportunities in transition. Even from situations like their own corner kicks. Frank doesn’t quite go gung-ho, full-on attack, but he has struggled all throughout his time as a manager to put the structures in place for a truly solid defence. If I were him, I would look to take on a job in the Championship. Being at that level for a few years would help him develop as a manager.
Mauricio Pochettino has that experience. He has been able to fully develop his ideas for what he wants his team to do and has displayed an ability to coach it on multiple occasions. He took Southampton to an eight-place finish in his one full season at the club and setting a new record points tally for the club in the Premier League era. In his time at Tottenham he took them from Europa League regulars to title challengers and all the way to the final of the Champions League. Not only that but he brought Harry Kane to the fore as well as Dele Alli and Son Heung-Min. And while his time at Paris Saint-Germain was cut short and is not regarded as a successful period, he did still win Ligue 1. But what makes me think that Pochettino might just be a very good choice for Chelsea at this time is Pochettino’s proven track record at coaching younger players and helping them to fulfil their potential. Pochettino is renowned for a very intense game, both in his pressing and exploiting a chance of a counter-attack. He does typically set his sides to up to build up play from the back, but not quite in the Pep Guardiola, tiki-taka mould. Pochettino is also known for his extremely intensive training sessions. Player fitness has been a concern for Frank since he took over, saying in the early weeks of his return that he hadn’t really been focussing on tactics in training, rather just on general fitness. If that is something that really needs improving, then Pochettino could be the right manager to take on that job. Pochettino also seems to more often succeed when he has a squad of younger players who he can lead into the future. Given that there will be a significant number of players leaving, Pochettino will have a core of younger, highly coachable players that he can mould into an effective team.
I think one of the most important things that Pochettino will need to work on is sharpening up Chelsea’s attacking edge. All throughout this season, a major problem for Chelsea has been an inability to break teams down, no matter their defensive set-ups. The current squad under Tuchel, Potter and Lampard have shown they are very good at keeping hold of the ball. But too often, attacks will get to the opposition’s 18-yard line before completely stalling in momentum, and going all the way back. Now, if there is genuinely no way through, I would much rather see my team keep hold of the ball and start the attack again, than punt a pointless cross into the box for the sake of it. Too often though, this has not been the case. For example, in their last game against Bournemouth, Chelsea had two thirds of the possession and yet only had one more shot in total and one more on target. It just so happened that they actually beat the goalkeeper with some of the shots on target. If Pochettino can find something to help the team get out of those ruts in front of goal, Chelsea could yet develop into a great attacking team. Having some proper cohesion to the defensive unit again would be wonderful to see as well, because the defence has been a major weakness all season long.
This is clearly a new era for the club; things are going to be done differently to how they were before. And Pochettino’s previous stint as Tottenham manager just doesn’t matter. He’s got a lot of qualities that would be a huge benefit to the group of the players that the club is assembling. So I am looking forward to the journey with Mauricio Pochettino at the helm.