Mauricio Pochettino looks to be safe as Chelsea manager – even if they seem to have a mountain to climb. Or perhaps even because of it. Max Allegri is making noises about wanting to manage in the Premier League this summer, and Gareth Southgate could be a major unknown quantity in the managerial merry-go-round after the European Championships.
The Juventus boss may have to look more towards Manchester United if he has designs on English football, though, as Southgate continues to sound ever more ready for a switch to club football – depending on England’s performance in the summer. Either way, Pochettino is not one for looking over his shoulder.
The recent run of one win, two draws and two defeats from the last five games is identical to the situation he found himself in Espanyol in April 2009 shortly after he had started his career in football management. In a bid to revive the club’s fortunes, he donned his rucksack and hiked nine miles from the club’s training ground up a mountain to a monks’ shrine in Montserrat to pray for inspiration. Espanyol won seven of their last eight games of the season.
Unfortunately, there are few landmarks of religious significance within walking distance of Cobham. But that story from his early days are a sure sign that Pochettino’s eyes are always focused upwards – which ultimately could become the key to his longevity at a notoriously fickle club.
The fact is that Todd Boehly enjoys a strong relationship with the fifth manager of his brief spell at the helm of the west London club.It is not an accident. Pochettino’s ability to manage upwards has seen his strength from the days of Nicolas Cortese and Daniel Levy at Spurs.
Those skills are ones not shared by Thomas Tuchel, for instance, who lasted just five months after winning his own Champions League.The abrasive, my-way-or-the-highway German fell foul of the new hierarchy shortly after they bounced into Cobham – much as he left Borussia Dortmund and PSG after disagreements with the clubs’ executives.
Slowly, Pochettino has won a disjointed dressing room round that was bolted together from all over the world with the consortium’s millions. That can be shown by the fact they are still unbeaten against any of the traditional Big Six sides all season.
Pochettino still gets the very best out of his players when it is most needed. He has got Nicolas Jackson scoring and we are finally seeing glimpses of what Mykhailo Mudryk can do. Raheem Sterling is enjoying a fresh breath of life.
These are all reasons Pochettino has the charm and persuasion to be given a full pre-season with his expensive recruits. Another run of seven wins out of eight and the topic won’t even be up for discussion.