Pochettino says Chelsea players behaved like ‘kids’ in penalty incident

AP , Tuesday 16 Apr 2024

An unseemly squabble involving six Chelsea players over who should take a penalty angered manager Mauricio Pochettino because of the message it sent around the world about his squad’s behavior.

Mauricio Pochettino
Chelsea s head coach Mauricio Pochettino ahead the English Premier League soccer match between Sheffield United and Chelsea at Bramall Lane stadium in Sheffield, England, Sunday, April 7, 2024. AP

“You cannot behave like kids,” Pochettino said in reference to a minute-long series of bizarre confrontations in the second half of Chelsea’s 6-0 victory over Everton in the Premier League on Monday.

After Chelsea was awarded a spot kick in the 63rd with the team leading 4-0, Noni Madueke and Nicolas Jackson both attempted to take the ball from Malo Gusto, who was holding it while Cole Palmer — the team’s regular penalty taker who had already scored a hat trick in the first half — was on the ground having been fouled.

Madueke lunged to grab the ball off Gusto, and then argued with Jackson as they both walked over to the spot before experienced Brazil defender Thiago Silva got involved and talked to them while putting his arms around their shoulders.

Conor Gallagher, Chelsea’s captain, then intervened to tell Madueke that Palmer should be taking the kick, only for Jackson to pile back in and try to snatch the ball off Palmer, who was about to place it on the spot.

After pushing away Jackson, Palmer eventually took the penalty and scored his fourth goal of the night, making it 5-0.

“I’m so, so upset about the situation,” Pochettino said. “In every country, people are watching the game and we cannot send this type of image.

“I want to apologize to our fans. Discipline is the most important thing for the team. It’s a collective sport. I’m not going to accept this type of behavior. I’m going to be very strong. I promise it’s not going to happen again.”

Pochettino said it was a learning experience for his young squad.

“The discipline is going to be stronger,” he said. “If they behave like kids, it’s impossible ... it’s a shame, it’s an unacceptable thing. We don’t deserve to be talking about this.”

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