Mauricio Pochettino has built momentum from the chaos at Chelsea

<span>Mauricio Pochettino congratulates his players after the midweek victory in Brighton.</span><span>Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters</span>” src=”–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ cd8924f6a4db315″ data-src= “–/YXBwaWQ9aGlnaGxhbmRlcjt3PTk2MDtoPTU3Ng–/ 24f6a4db315″/><button class=

Mauricio Pochettino congratulates his players after the midweek victory over Brighton.Photo: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters

It shouldn’t be a debate. When Chelsea hold their end-of-season review this week, it would be ridiculous for them to convince themselves that getting rid of Mauricio Pochettino and starting the search for a head coach again would be the right decision.

The good news is that prominent figures within Stamford Bridge are backing Pochettino. Why change now? Why start over if the players want the manager to stay? Why not acknowledge that Pochettino, who has had to deal with a huge injury list, has devised a dazzling transfer strategy and built a team that is on the brink of securing European football before he hosts Bournemouth on Sunday afternoon?

Related: Pochettino will receive important support from Chelsea before deciding his future

Only an impatient person would swing the axe. However, a few weeks ago there was a feeling that Chelsea were planning a split with Pochettino, even though replacements were few and far between. Hopes of Champions League football were long gone and some figures at Chelsea, where more than £1 billion has been spent under the ownership of Clearlake Capital and Todd Boehly, wanted Pochettino sacked after last month’s 5-0 defeat to Arsenal .

That he survived was ultimately at the insistence of Clearlake, the private equity fund managed by Behdad Eghbali and José E Feliciano. Stability is crucial. Although Eghbali had reservations about Pochettino from the start, the emotion was taken out and the poignant reaction to the humiliation against Arsenal has changed the dynamic.

Chelsea, who rose to sixth in midweek after beating Brighton, have recorded four wins and one hard-earned 2-2 draw against Aston Villa from their past five matches. Losing the Carabao Cup final to Liverpool’s kids was bad, but Gary Neville’s ‘Blue Billion Bottle Jobs’ jibe no longer feels so sharp.

Yet there is some ambivalence towards Pochettino. It has been suggested that the 52-year-old took too long to arrive at the right tactical formula and there are concerns that his training methods may have contributed to Chelsea’s injury problems. Offensive and defensive set pieces were a problem. The upturn in form is seen as evidence that co-sporting directors, Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley, and co-director of recruitment and talent, Joe Shields, deserve to be commended for their excellent work in the transfer market.

The head coach must be prepared to thrive in this “collaborative” environment. It took a while for Pochettino to accept the need for a permanent coach. The club has signed Bernardo Cueva from Brentford. “This is not my team, this is Chelsea’s team,” Pochettino said after the match against Brighton. He didn’t do any signings himself. Going into the season with so many young players was not Pochettino’s idea. He has built himself from scratch in the toughest competition in the world.

In that context, he has done his job, while the club’s internal power dynamics continue. Who determines Chelsea’s culture? Is there unanimity about the long-term vision? Boehly, the chairman, recently started talking about the importance of patience. But Eghbali is considered very influential. There is a lot of talk and any decision to change managers has to be signed off by Boehly and Clearlake. Although Chelsea looked at possible replacements for Pochettino in February, there is currently a feeling that the former Tottenham manager is here to stay.

Understandably, the speculation has upset Pochettino. Chelsea, who have been fourth in the form table since Christmas, are moving in the right direction. His recent speech about quitting is not a good development. Pochettino has tensed his muscles. He may feel that Chelsea needs him more than he needs them. They will have to decide whether it is acceptable to miss the original target of a top four finish. The view is that this is a top four team.

Pochettino will go into the review with his own view. He wants more control over signings. But tension could arise if Chelsea go ahead with plans to sell Conor Gallagher and Trevoh Chalobah. That wouldn’t help Pochettino. He hasn’t been perfect. Late equalizer against Burnley and Sheffield United? Not good. Thirteen games without a clean sheet? Talk about disgracing Jose Mourinho’s legacy. Chelsea have been out of control for much of the season. The games have been chaotic, with wasted leads, horrible goals conceded and the team often imploding shortly after half-time. Pochettino was angry with his players for not trying hard enough against Burnley.

Yet any fair assessment of Pochettino’s work would also see strong performances against the top sides, and they should have won the FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City. It would recognize how he improved Cole Palmer, Malo Gusto, Nicolas Jackson, Noni Madueke, Marc Cucurella and Gallagher. From the chaos, glimpses of a real team emerge. Moisés Caicedo, the £115million midfielder, is flourishing now that he no longer has to carry Enzo Fernández, who played with a hernia for eight months before having surgery.

As for criticism of Pochettino’s game management, it is worth pointing out that Chelsea have earned 18 points thanks to goals in the last 15 minutes. A total of 62 goals conceded, the second highest in the top half, needs improvement but is to be expected given all the chopping and switching. The late showing is evidence of a team with good fitness and a strong attitude, and it is easier to make decisive substitutions when Reece James, Raheem Sterling and Christopher Nkunku are available to come off the bench.

The injuries cannot be ignored. James, the captain, has missed most of the season. Nkunku, who scored after coming on against Brighton, has started two games since his £53million move from RB Leipzig. His extended absence would have been a blow to any manager.

Pochettino has had to constantly put out fires. Now he’s building momentum. This is not the time for more unrest.

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