Chelsea ponder tough decisions after Mauricio Pochettino targets ‘clinical’ changes to take club forward

Chelsea ponder tough decisions after Mauricio Pochettino targets ‘clinical’ changes to take club forward

Chelsea's owners are left with a choice: listen to Mauricio Pochettino's concerns and change tack, or stick to their guns and hope their £1billion potential will eventually come good.

This humiliating defeat at Arsenal will force Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali into some difficult conversations about where they go from here.

Pochettino made his feelings clear last night when he said "the circumstances are bigger than the players". The inference was that this expensively-assembled team cannot compete with the best sides and Chelsea need to rethink their youth approach. He said Chelsea must make some "clinical" decisions in the summer and said "the strategy for the future should be better".

It was a clear message from Pochettino that things need to change. The question is whether that change will see a new manager come in or an overhaul of the squad.

Mudryk and Madueke did not look fit to lace Palmer’s boots

One thing is clear, Chelsea fans are not impressed. During the second half last night, a young fan held up a banner reading: "I don't want your shirt! I want you to want to fight for ours."

There is criticism of the squad built by sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, under the guidance of co-owners Boehly and Eghbali. Cole Palmer might not have changed the result last night, but Mykhailo Mudryk and Noni Madueke did not look fit to lace his boots, after Pochettino had challenged his players to show this is not "Cole Palmer Football Club".

Nicolas Jackson, at £30million, has arguably been value for money but is missing chances and struggling under pressure. A midfield trio of Moises Caicedo, Enzo Fernandez and Conor Gallagher were dominated by Martin Odegaard, Declan Rice and Thomas Partey. Fernandez, a £106m buy, is particularly struggling with the demands of the Premier League in one of the most lightweight midfields in the division.


It was an abject performance from a back four left exposed by those in front of them. Benoit Badiashile is unable to get through 90 minutes without making a major mistake. Alfie Gilchrist, Axel Disasi, and Marc Cucurella also struggled.

To add to the embarrassment of their heaviest-ever defeat to Arsenal and worst loss in a London derby since 1986, Pochettino played a back five for the final 15 minutes to limit the damage. Chelsea could easily sack the Argentine, as they did with both Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter, and again hope a new manager will make more of this group of players.

But this summer will not be a good time to be looking for a manager. Liverpool, Bayern Munich, Barcelona and AC Milan, plus possibly Manchester United and Juventus, will all be searching for a new boss in an ultra-competitive market.

There have even been rumours that Reece James and Levi Colwill could be sold

The alternative is to allow Pochettino more input into the recruitment process, and he has hinted he needs more experienced players to compliment his young players. Overhauling the squad again will not be easy, given Chelsea are sailing close to the wind with Premier League profit and sustainability rules.

The club has already controversially sold two Stamford Bridge hotels for £76.5m to help balance the books and is set to be forced to sell players to raise transfer funds.

But Chelsea will find it difficult to offload some of their flops on long-term contracts, meaning they will have to sell academy players, such as Gallagher and Trevoh Chalobah. There have even been rumours that Reece James and Levi Colwill could be sold.

But Pochettino is right, difficult decisions need to be made.