Mauricio Pochettino secures European football at Chelsea but faces decision day over future

Mauricio Pochettino, Manager of Chelsea, looks on at full-time following the team's victory in the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on May 19, 2024 in London, England
The season ended with Stamford Bridge in a bouyant move - Getty Images/Darren Walsh

Todd Boehly wined and dined Mauricio Pochettino ahead of Chelsea’s final game of the season but only time will tell whether or not it was the Argentine’s last supper.

Chelsea secured European football for next season with a final day victory over Bournemouth and Pochettino will hope his future is resolved this week.

Pochettino revealed that he went for dinner with Chelsea’s co-controlling owner Boehly last Friday night, but would not give any clues about what was discussed.

He was not mentioned at all in a message from Boehly and co-owners Clearlake Capital that was printed in the matchday programme for the final game of the season.

Whether his dinner with Boehly or the owners’ message in the programme proves to be significant will become evident in the coming days, with an end-of-season review expected to decide Pochettino’s fate.

“All I can tell you is on Friday night, Todd invited me for a dinner and it was a very nice dinner together,” said Pochettino. “But I don’t know about the rumours about the review. My staff tomorrow are flying for their holidays. I am going to stay in London for a few more days. I am always open. My phone is going to be on.”

Asked what was discussed at his dinner with Boehly, Pochettino replied: “I am not going to explain. It is only for you to know that I was with him. I’m not going to talk about this. If I invite you along, and you and me have dinner, it’s not for bad things. I don’t believe that.”

Whatever happens, Pochettino has finished the season with his head held high. Five successive victories to end the campaign has sent an end-of-season wave of optimism around Stamford Bridge and Pochettino has proved himself to be a fighter.

He feared for his job after a home defeat to Wolves, heard supporters chant against him in a draw at Brentford and may only have been one game from the sack after last month’s thrashing at Arsenal.

But each time Pochettino has fought back and there are plenty of signs that Chelsea have been coming together under his guidance.

Record signing Moises Caicedo finished the campaign by scoring what may well have been the goal of the season, from just inside Bournemouth’s half, and Raheem Sterling got on the scoresheet to clinch a sixth-placed finish for Chelsea.

Moises Caicedo of Chelsea celebrates with Nicolas Jackson of Chelsea after scoring his team's first goal during the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on May 19, 2024 in London, England
Moises Caicedo scored a goal-of-the-season contender - Getty Images/Ryan Pierse

That guaranteed European qualification. It will be the Europa League if Manchester United do not beat League champions Manchester City in Saturday’s FA Cup final. Should United spring a Wembley shock, then Chelsea will play in the Europa Conference League, but neither looked likely a month ago, when Pochettino’s team were humiliated at the Emirates.

Despite the strong finish, Chelsea’s owners have made it clear they want much, much more, whether Pochettino or somebody else is in charge next season.

In a full page message to supporters in the programme, Chelsea’s owners listed their ambitions by writing: “Consistently winning or contending for the Premier League and Women’s Super League titles. Consistently playing in the Champions League and competing for domestic cups. Consistently competing for titles across the youth age groups. Developing and discovering the next generation of footballing talent for the benefit of the club. Being responsible actors and contributors to our community, while meeting Financial Fair Play and other regulatory requirements. Earning the trust and confidence of our supporters.”

Pochettino hugged all of his players and each member of Chelsea staff at the end of the victory over Bournemouth, but did not make an on-pitch speech to supporters and disappeared down the tunnel after a tribute to Thiago Silva.

Chelsea’s players and staff, including Pochettino, formed a guard of honour for Silva to mark the defender’s emotional farewell. The Brazilian said his tearful goodbye alongside his wife Belle and their children, who joined him on the pitch for the lap of appreciation.

Thiago Silva of Chelsea shows appreciation to the fans at full-time after his final appearance following the team's victory in the Premier League match between Chelsea FC and AFC Bournemouth at Stamford Bridge on May 19, 2024 in London, England
Thiago Silva was reduced to tears after his final Chelsea appearance - Getty Images/Darren Walsh

It remains to be seen whether or not academy products Conor Gallagher and Trevoh Chalobah, who both performed well on Sunday, have also played their final games for Chelsea.

Caicedo will never beat his first goal for Chelsea, having waited all season to score it. Sterling was sent running towards goal by Nicolas Jackson and Bournemouth goalkeeper Neto rushed off his line to clear. Caicedo was still in his own half when he picked up the loose ball and stepped just over the halfway line before launching a superb shot over the top of Neto and into the net.

The goal was measured as being from 50.5 yards and was the furthest scored in a League game since Wayne Rooney for Everton in November 2017 (57.7 yards against West Ham).

Sterling netted at the start of the second half, but Enes Unal made sure it was a close finish by immediately replying with a shot that deflected into the net off Benoit Badiashile.