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Mauricio Pochettino insists he will have say on Chelsea future at end of season | Chelsea


Mauricio Pochettino has hinted he would leave Chelsea if he was unhappy and his end-of-season performance review will not just be about whether the club’s owners want to keep him.

The manager, who takes his improving side to Nottingham Forest on Saturday in search of a Europa League final, has moved to take control of a plot which has grown in intensity in recent months and which he says has affected people at the club – although not the players.

Pochettino is under contract until the summer of 2025 – the club has an option for another year – and it remains unclear whether he will continue. When asked, Pochettino said he did not know and the owners, Todd Boilley and Behdad Egbali, offered no clarity, adding to the uncertainty.

Boelli praised Pochettino’s work on Wednesday when he said the team’s last “at least two and a half games” – Aston Villa’s second-half comeback to draw 2-2 and home wins over Tottenham and West Ham – had included “beautiful” and “liquid” football.

“The most important thing is to continue if we are all happy – not only the owners happy with us, but also the sporting directors happy with us,” Pochettino said. “If we’re happy … you have to ask because maybe we’re saying, ‘We’re not happy and we have to part ways.'” It wouldn’t be the first time the coaching staff decided at the end of the season not to continue.

“They [the owners] he can say tomorrow: “This is how far we come [continue].’ Or maybe tomorrow I can say, “Look, I want to leave.” I’m not saying I’m not happy, but there’s always one side missing. Maybe the other side will say, “Okay, maybe this far,” and we’ll part ways. It is not a problem. It won’t be the end of the world.

“Maybe the owners want to keep us in our place and maybe we decide not to.” It is always in two parts. But always [people] assume that one part makes the decision.

Pochettino has made it clear he is preparing Chelsea for next season, in terms of pre-season planning and holding meetings about what’s next. He said: “I project myself here for a long period – more than the one year that is written in my contract, because we really believe in our work.”

On the other hand, Pochettino also said it was about professionalism. If he tends to want to be all things to all people, he can sometimes give all the answers to the question.

Chelsea owner Todd Boilley has praised Chelsea’s recent form, saying they are playing “beautiful” football. Photo: Tom Jenkins/The Guardian

“Les Reid, who was the technical director we worked with at Southampton, always told me: ‘Be professional until the end,'” Pochettino said. “That’s always in the back of my mind – be professional. You have to work like you’re going to be here for a long time.”

Pochettino noted, and not for the first time, that he has not created the hype surrounding his future. “It’s not about me, is it?” he said, making it clear who he thought it was—the owners, in other words.

“It’s true that in the last few months the question always comes up,” Pochettino said. “You have to kill the rumor if it’s not true. If not, there are rumors of a different strategy [reason]. If you ask, “Does it affect me?” It does not affect me. Does this affect the people who work with us? I think so. Because at the end of the day, you can kill the rumors, fire me, and that’s it. That’s not a problem. It happens in a lot of clubs.”

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Pochettino also said that the players “don’t need anything, they are really focused”. He doesn’t think the situation has affected them. “But the fans and the staff, yes,” he continued. “They need to know.”

What was striking was how deep Pochettino looked in the dark. At one point, he found himself speculating on the thought processes of Boehly and Eghbali. “Maybe they think we have a contract so they don’t have to clarify anything in the face of all the rumours,” he said. “Perhaps the situation is such that they are not worried about them. But it is true that there have been too many rumors in the last few months.”

Pochettino, who announced that captain Reece James could return to the squad against Forest after five months out with a hamstring injury, looked mildly amused by Boelli’s comment about “beautiful” football for “two and a half games”.

Pochettino would certainly prefer his side’s development after a difficult opening 10 games of the Premier League season to be recognised. They have since picked up 42 points from 25 games, which puts them fifth in the form table during the period. They have lost three of their last 17 games in all competitions and their recent record at Stamford Bridge reads: P8 W7 D1.

“Half past two…” Pochettino said, laughing. “That’s the harm of the result, isn’t it? I think throughout the season sometimes the performance was better than the second half at Villa or the Tottenham game. When emotions are good, you can see things differently. Today is a sunny day, then you have good news and everything looks better.

“It is our responsibility to see what happened in the past… [even] people who don’t understand football surely understand that the situation was not ideal [when Pochettino took over last summer].

“I said after the Tottenham game last week that they should rate us at the end of the season, but what is that? Maybe here [in this press conference] there are 20 people and they would rate us in different ways. But they [the owners] we have to make the decision.”

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