Maintain relations with owners and recruitment chiefs
Mauricio Pochettino needs Chelsea’s controlling co-owners, Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali, to see him as the boss. The new manager must pay attention to Arsène Wenger saying that Boehly was wrong to enter the dressing room after Chelsea’s defeat by Brighton to tell the players that the season has been “embarrassing”. Boundaries have to be established. Pochettino’s has to be the loudest voice.
Yet there will be a political element to the role. Thomas Tuchel clashed with Chelsea’s owners, who have made a series of questionable decisions during their first year, and Graham Potter lacked clout. Pochettino, the third permanent manager to work for Boehly and Eghbali, needs to find a productive understanding with his employers.
This is where Pochettino’s experience of working at Paris Saint-Germain should come in handy. He needs to minimise interference from above and make sure he is not landed with unwanted signings. Equally, though, the hierarchy want a manager capable of working in a collaborative culture. Pochettino has to be willing to engage with the owners. He has his trusted transfer advisers but he cannot ignore Chelsea’s assortment of recruitment experts. The task is not just to be tough; it is to be a diplomat.
Download the Guardian app from the iOS App Store on iPhone or the Google Play store on Android by searching for 'The Guardian'.
If you already have the Guardian app, make sure you’re on the most recent version.
In the Guardian app, tap the Menu button at the bottom right, then go to Settings (the gear icon), then Notifications.
Turn on sport notifications.
Use lack of European football to his advantage
Chelsea’s failure to qualify for Europe for the first time since 2016 is not ideal given the loss of revenue will raise concerns about Financial Fair Play, although insiders insist it is not an issue this summer. However the smartest coaches are capable of turning any negative into a positive. In Pochettino’s case the good thing about having fewer midweek fixtures is that it gives him more time on the training ground.
Do not be surprised if Chelsea begin to look like one of the sharpest teams in the league. Pochettino had a similar effect after taking over at Spurs in 2014. He made the most of having plenty of talented young players and he will see the chance to work in the same way at Chelsea.
Streamline the squad and work out his best team
What is Chelsea’s best starting XI? Should they play three or four at the back? Which wingers play? Who makes the bench? What should be done with Romelu Lukaku when he returns from his loan at Internazionale? Will anyone take Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang?
It is messy. Chelsea have spent close to £600m on signings since last summer but even Thiago Silva has questioned the board’s strategy. The squad contains more than 30 players and more players than usual end up outside the matchday squad.
The competition for places has inevitably created unhappiness and Pochettino has to be swift in identifying who should be sold. With Denis Zakaria and João Félix set to return to their respective parent clubs, focus will linger on Hakim Ziyech, Lukaku, Aubameyang, Christian Pulisic and Kalidou Koulibaly. Kai Havertz is also restless and Raheem Sterling has had a disappointing season.
Pochettino will have to be ruthless. He will know that Chelsea could be forced to sell some academy players but he should find a place for the centre-back Levi Colwill and tell the club to make Mason Mount feel wanted. Pochettino, who has a history of improving young players, could give Mount a new lease of life.
Chelsea need identity. Potter chopped and changed too much. Pochettino needs a settled team. He was flexible with his systems at Spurs, but you always had a good idea of his favoured starting XI.
Address the lack of ruthlessness
One of Pochettino’s greatest successes at Spurs was overseeing Harry Kane’s development into one of the best strikers in the world. He is going to have to do something even more spectacular with Chelsea’s forwards, though. Chelsea, who have not had a convincing No 9 since selling Diego Costa in 2017, scored 38 goals in their 38 league games and have turned missing chances into an art form.
Can Pochettino find the cure? The problem is that Chelsea have plenty of decent attacking midfielders but few reliable finishers. It could require a change of personnel. Havertz has not convinced as a false 9 and Aubameyang and Lukaku do not appear capable of functioning in Pochettino’s brand of fast, pressing football. However it will not be easy for Chelsea to sign a prolific striker this summer. Spurs are hardly likely to sell Kane to them.
Help the expensive signings settle
One hope for Chelsea is that Christopher Nkunku hits the ground running once he completes his move from RB Leipzig. But the France forward’s goals in the Bundesliga are not a guarantee of success in the Premier League. Chelsea should know not to judge a player by his fee by now. They have overpaid for a lot of players, though Pochettino will be working with a lot of talent. He will look to revive the fortunes of the Ukraine winger Mykhailo Mudryk and to drag more consistency out of his fellow Argentinian Enzo Fernández, the midfielder who became the most expensive signing in the history of English football when he joined Chelsea for £106.8m.