Pochettino pleads with Chelsea fans to 'trust' him after Leicester scare

AFP , Sunday 17 Mar 2024

Mauricio Pochettino pleaded with Chelsea fans to "trust" him and show support for Raheem Sterling after the pair were booed during Sunday's FA Cup quarter-final win against second-tier Leicester.

Chelsea s head coach Mauricio Pochettino celebrates with Chelsea s Noni Madueke after the FA Cup quarterfinal soccer match between Chelsea and Leicester City at Stamford Bridge in London, Sunday, March 17, 2024. Photo: AP


Pochettino's side survived a scare from 10-man Leicester as they blew a two-goal half-time lead at Stamford Bridge, before salvaging a dramatic 4-2 victory.

Goals from Marc Cucurella and Cole Palmer had put Chelsea in control, but Axel Disasi's comical own goal and Stephy Mavididi's superb equaliser sparked a furious response from angry Chelsea supporters.

Already frustrated by their inconsistent team's slump to 11th place in the Premier League, the Blues fans jeered Sterling during a miserable performance that included a missed first-half penalty and more boos when he was substituted.

Pochettino was also booed and subjected to chants of "you don't know what you're doing" when he substituted Mykhailo Mudryk.

Chelsea eased the toxic atmosphere after Leicester's Callum Doyle was sent off for a professional foul on Nicolas Jackson, with stoppage-time goals from Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke sealing their second cup semi-final appearance this season.

The League Cup runners-up will have to greatly improve on this sloppy display to win Chelsea's first domestic trophy since the 2018 FA Cup.

But the under-fire Pochettino insisted he would get it right if the fans show some patience.

"We are in a process to build the team. I know really well how to manage. What the fans want is to win the game and that we achieved," Pochettino said.

"What the fans want is to go to Wembley and that we achieved. They need to trust me to manage in the way I think is the best way for the club.

"We need to respect their opinion as much as they need to respect my decision."

Sterling's poor form has already made him a target for fans this term, but this was his lowest ebb.

Left out of the England squad again ahead of their forthcoming friendlies with Brazil and Belgium, Sterling is a shadow of the player who dazzled for Manchester City.

He is in danger of missing out on a place in England's Euro 2024 squad and his Chelsea future may be in doubt despite Pochettino's backing.

"We need to support him, he's an amazing player. He has more than 10 years' experience in the Premier League," the Argentinean said.

"Of course I think the contribution was good. He was a little bit unlucky with some actions where he should have scored. But we are a team and we need to be there for everyone.

"Fans are entitled to show their emotion. For us we try to emphasise with our fans not to criticise.

"They want the best for our team and players. But we are in a project. We need support and to really believe. We are trying to build something."

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