Mauricio Pochettino admits Wolves defeat could have cost him his job

<span>Mauricio Pochettino during <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Chelsea;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Chelsea</a>’s home defeat by <a class="link " href="" data-i13n="sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link" data-ylk="slk:Wolves;sec:content-canvas;subsec:anchor_text;elm:context_link;itc:0">Wolves</a> in February.</span><span>Photograph: Ben Stansall/AFP/Getty Images</span>

Mauricio Pochettino has admitted he could have been sacked after Chelsea’s humiliating 4-2 defeat at home to Wolves in February.

The manager, whose future remains uncertain before a pivotal end-of-season review next week, said he was in a lonely place after a game that left his team well off the pace in the hunt for European football.

Pochettino, who is on the brink of ending his first season at Stamford Bridge by clinching a top-six finish, even suggested that Chelsea could have been convinced to fire him by Thiago Silva’s wife, Belle, tweeting during the collapse against Wolves: “It’s time to change. If you wait any longer it will be too late.”

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The admission came after Pochettino, whose young side are sixth before hosting Bournemouth on Sunday, was asked whether there had been any point when he had braced himself for a difficult call from Chelsea’s owners.

“I can be honest?” he replied. “I think after Wolves. Remember what happened after, also? Remember?”

It was put to Pochettino that he was referencing Belle Silva’s tweet. “Maybe,” he said with a smile. “I didn’t think we are going to be sacked, but it was a tough moment. That defeat at home was really tough. At this moment, as a coach and a staff, you feel loneliness. When you feel like everyone is seeing you as if you’re guilty of something and you don’t know what’s going on.

“In this moment, we feel the loneliness. We were alone there after the game. Waiting. We spent two hours … It was a long time after the game we were there, watching each other, the five coaching staff, in a very small room. We were more sad. It was an unfair situation we were in. It was a situation we didn’t deserve, but the result put us in a very difficult situation.”

Chelsea had slipped to 11th and were seven points below sixth-placed Manchester United. The atmosphere at Stamford Bridge was febrile.

However Chelsea, who could pip Tottenham to fifth place, have responded by losing one of their past 14 league games. Their improvement has strengthened Pochettino’s hand before he meets the club’s sporting directors, Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart, to discuss the future. The owners are expected to provide input during the meeting.

Pochettino has support from key figures at Chelsea but it remains to be seen whether the hierarchy will keep him. The aim at the start of the season was to finish in the top four. Pochettino, who has suggested he could walk away, will not be content with qualifying for the Europa League.

“We were talking this morning as a staff – it’s not enough for us,” he said. “We’re not going to celebrate and take a picture finishing fifth or sixth and Europe. It’s not enough for the club. It’s not enough for the owners, the sporting directors or the players.”