Pochettino sees positive future for improving Chelsea

AFP , Tuesday 14 May 2024

Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino said European qualification "would be amazing" for the Blues after turning around a difficult first season in charge at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino. AFP
Chelsea s Argentinian head coach Mauricio Pochettino. AFP


Pochettino's men have won their last three Premier League games to rise to seventh in the table and put themselves in a good position to return to Europe next season.

Chelsea are level on points with sixth-placed Newcastle and three ahead of Manchester United, plus a significantly better goal difference than the Red Devils, with two games to play.

A top-six finish will guarantee a place in either the Europa League or Conference League next season, while seventh would also be enough as long as United fail to win the FA Cup later this month against Manchester City.

Chelsea won just three of their opening 10 league games as Pochettino wrestled with injuries and gelling together a series of inexperienced players.

But the Argentine believes his side's curve is clearly on the up as they have lost just once in their last 13 top-flight matches.

"The most important thing is to believe and I think the team is doing really well. In the last 26 games we have been doing really well and we need to keep doing it in this way.

"It is going to be tough but I really believe we can compete in the next two games, and having the possibility of playing in Europe would be amazing for us."

Pochettino's future as manager for next season had even been in doubt until recent weeks.

But convincing home wins over London rivals Tottenham and West Ham was followed by a come-from-behind 3-2 victory at Nottingham Forest on Saturday.

"We are punished because of the first 10 games. If you start to count after our 10th game I think we are in the top four," added Pochettino.

"I want to be positive and I don't want to talk anymore (about a lack of experience). From next season I don't want to say that we are young, I want to talk about a different issue."

There is further good news for Pochettino as a number of key players are returning from injury in time for Wednesday's trip to Brighton and a visit of Bournemouth to finish the campaign on Sunday.

Captain Reece James came off the bench to set up Nicolas Jackson's winner at Forest, while forward Christopher Nkunku has made his return as a substitute in the last two games.

However, Pochettino does not expect either to start at Brighton.

"The players that have arrived from injury need time and we don’t have time. We need to play and start games with players who can cope for 90 minutes," he added.

"We will see if the injured players can cope with some minutes (on Wednesday). We have the names and bodies, but they are not 100 percent to play and cope with the demands of the Premier League for 90 minutes at the moment."

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