Chelsea’s Pochettino claims VAR’s all-seeing eye robs game of aggression

<span>Photograph: Adam Vaughan/EPA</span>
Photograph: Adam Vaughan/EPA

Mauricio Pochettino believes VAR has made it harder to coach players to be nasty. Chelsea’s manager, who ripped into his squad after last weekend’s 4-1 defeat at Newcastle, said the introduction of technology meant there was no point in practising dark arts in training.

Pochettino, known for getting stuck in during his playing days, was asked whether Chelsea’s dressing room contained too many placid figures. The former Argentina player had been asked whether he could trust his young squad to police itself after disappointing performances.

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“It depends on the characters of the player,” Pochettino said. “In some groups of players at different clubs maybe they can be at war if we lose a game. It wasn’t the case here that we are at war. Football has changed a lot from my period. There wasn’t VAR. We were nice also. But we competed in a different way.”

Pochettino, who denied he once kicked an opponent’s ear when playing for Paris Saint-Germain, pointed into the distance. “Before if I punch or kick someone when the ball was over there, if the referee didn’t see me there wasn’t VAR,” he said. “Now if the ball is over there and I kick or punch someone there are 200 cameras watching everything. Boom, red card.

“You cannot behave like this in training. You cannot show this type of aggression. Then you build your character in different ways. That is why players are different now. When we talk about the way VAR is going to affect the way we are going to educate our players, it is completely different. That is a big worry.”

Chelsea, who are 12 points off the top four before hosting Brighton on Sunday, have had disciplinary problems this season. They have received 44 yellow cards, the most in the Premier League, and two red cards. Pochettino and his assistant, Jesús Pérez, have fallen foul of the officials and Chelsea’s captain, Reece James, was dismissed for two naive bookings against Newcastle. Marc Cucurella is suspended on Sunday.

“Frustration can be a good word because I think after Newcastle, it was the first time in the Premier League that we deserved to lose,” Pochettino said. “Sometimes as a team we are not mature enough to manage situations and then sometimes we make a mistake. Because when you analyse the team, starting XI or players who come from the bench there’s not too much experience of the Premier League.”