Why did Chelsea sack Mauricio Pochettino?

Robin Bairner
Robin Bairner
  • Updated: 22 May 2024 00:54 CDT
  • 5 min read
Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea, 2023/24
© IMAGO

Chelsea released a surprising statement on Tuesday indicating that Mauricio Pochettino was no longer their manager.

Had this come at an earlier juncture of the season, it would have come as little surprise, yet there was a sense that Pochettino was genuinely starting to get a handle on the Chelsea squad, which had finished the season as one of the form teams in the Premier League.

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Apparently destined for mid-table obscurity in December, the Blues will play European football next season after a terrific conclusion to the campaign.

READ MORE: Chelsea squad 'surprised' by Pochettino's exit - Romano

Why did Pochettino leave Chelsea?

It is important to note here that Pochettino was not officially sacked. Instead, he left by mutual consent. This indicates that there was, officially at least, an element of both parties choosing to go their separate ways.

“Chelsea FC can confirm that the Club and Mauricio Pochettino have mutually agreed to part ways,” the club’s official statement said.

Behdad Eghbali, a co-controlling owner of the club, was apparently set on change and would have been a key voice in any meetings.

Reports indicate Chelsea want a “younger and more progressive” manager, although it is unclear why they would come to this conclusion only 12 months after appointing Pochettino on a two-year contract that might have been extended to three.

READ MORE: Winners and losers of Pochettino's Chelsea departure

Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea
© IMAGO - Mauricio Pochettino, Chelsea

Tension between Poch and the board

Chelsea’s motivation for Pochettino’s departure seems to have been driven by the Argentine’s desire to have more say on their infamous transfer policy. Clearlake Capital, the owners of the Stamford Bridge club, instead wanted the manager to have less say in this regard.

The Blues have been insistent that they stick to a project that sees them sign young players with potential. Pochettino made it clear that he wanted a more balanced approach.

We need to bring more young players, we need to bring in some experienced players
- Mauricio Pochettino

Speaking ahead of a Premier League clash with Everton, the former Tottenham and PSG boss said: “We need to bring more young players, we need to bring in some experienced players. But that is all about talking.

“It's about agreeing with the club, analysing and designing the strategy for the next season and to go and fight for big things. That is really important.”

The future of Conor Gallagher has been a sticking point
© IMAGO - The future of Conor Gallagher has been a sticking point

It appears that the agreement that Pochettino sought was not possible.

But it was not just incoming players that the manager wanted a greater say on. He was very public about his belief that Conor Gallagher should not be sold.

Instead, the owners are looking at the academy graduate as a ‘pure profit’ player and appear to be ruthless about offloading him in the summer to help aid the club’s financial burden with regards the Premier League’s profit and sustainability regulations. This would have been another major issue at odds with Pochettino’s plans.

Disappointing results

It also cannot be ignored that Chelsea’s results overall this season were below the standards expected.

While there was a strong trend of improvement after Christmas – Chelsea had the third-best form in the Premier League after this mark – the goal was to return to the Champions League. The Blues have fallen emphatically short of that mark.

Indeed, there were several points this season when Pochettino could have been sacked, including after the 1-0 Carabao Cup semi-final first-leg loss to Middlesbrough and following the embarrassment of losing 5-0 to Arsenal.

Although Chelsea finished sixth in the Premier League, five points behind Aston Villa in fourth, there was no sense at any time they would qualify for the Champions League. This was below expectations.

Mykhailo Mudryk after the Carabao Cup final loss to Manchester City
© IMAGO - Mykhailo Mudryk after the Carabao Cup final loss to Manchester City

How will Pochettino be remembered?

Pochettino’s Chelsea reign will be remembered in the context of what follows.

If the Blues build on the gains he made at the end of the 2023/24 season, he will be seen as a manager who managed to finally knit the squad together in tricky circumstances, building a harmonious squad with smart man-management.

Should the Blues regress, though, his legacy is less clear. It is likely, however, Chelsea fans would remember Pochettino as the coach who led them to the brink of realising their potential as a superclub once again, testimony to the solid job he did at Stamford Bridge.

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