Pochettino packs his trunk and says goodbye to the Chelsea circus

<span><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> fans welcome Clearlake Capital in 2022.</span><span>Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters</span>
Chelsea fans welcome Clearlake Capital in 2022.Photograph: Paul Childs/Action Images/Reuters


When a manager and a football club part company by “mutual consent”, it invariably transpires that the consent in question was far more mutual on the part of the club’s owners than that of the manager who is wandering around the training ground with a cardboard box full of vibe-enhancing lemons under his arm, saying farewell to assorted former colleagues. This certainly seems to have been the case at Chelsea, where senior suits and Mauricio Pochettino emerged from their end-of-season appraisal having arrived at the conclusion it would be best if the Argentinian left after just a year in the job. This, despite him having finally whipped the previously under-performing rabble of overpriced young misfits that had been the source of so much mirth for two-thirds of the campaign into something resembling a decent football team. Not world-beaters, but one that had managed to win their final five games, secure sixth place in the Premier League and the place in Europe next season that goes with it.

Much like many of the decisions made by Todd Boehly and his b@nter bros at Clearlake Capital since they took over, this one has been widely derided as being a mind-bogglingly stupid one, mainly because there is a brash American involved and because Pochettino is believed to have been let go for the heinous crime of wanting a little more say in how Chelsea conduct their business in the transfer market. Not all of the say, or even the lion’s share of the say. Just the right to possibly be there in the room and in a position to say “Eh, hold on a minute!” as assorted members of the club’s transfer committee reach for their phones after their daily session of throwing darts at a wall covered in Panini stickers. It was for this act of outrageous insubordination that the amiable 52-year-old has been cut loose with his reputation largely undamaged, his carton of citrus fruit in tow and a massive payout winging its way into his bank account.

While assorted pundits and commentators have been clutching their pearls and self-righteously condemning the hierarchy on Pochettino’s behalf, it is important to remember that the man himself almost certainly couldn’t give two hoots, and may well be delighted to have packed his trunk and said goodbye to this particular circus. The same cannot be said of his players, many of whom have stampeded to social media disgraces in order to make it clear how much their former manager meant to them. It’s fair to say that while he may not have been a particularly popular figure among the boardroom, Pochettino was clearly well liked in the dressing room. “Love you, coach,” wrote Nicolas Jackson in a post accompanied by several “facepalm” emojis. “Wish we could stay together more but may God continue to bless you and your family.” Cole Palmer was also among those to wish the departing manager well.

So what now for Chelsea powerbrokers who have thus far seen off three managers (and one interim Frank Lampard) since taking over the club two years ago? In need of a boss who will win silverware and be utterly compliant when it comes to following orders, no obvious contenders spring to mind. Indeed, it’s difficult to imagine anyone better suited to the job spec than the guy who’s just left – a pretty laid-back coach who famously managed to be successful in spite of the tight rein Daniel Levy kept him on for five consecutive years at Tottenham. With Brighton already sniffing around Kieran McKenna, it’s no surprise to learn Chelsea are ready to hijack any potential deal for the flavour-of-the-month Ipswich manager, who is currently in such popular demand he may just quit football while he’s ahead and become the next James Bond, Governor of the Bank of England or Archbishop of Canterbury instead.


Join Scott Murray from 8pm BST for hot Big Vase final minute-by-minute updates from Atalanta 1-2 Bayer Leverkusen (aet).


“I never would have thought that I’d have a Barbie that looks just like me. There are so many other incredible women that have been dolls, and I just never would have thought that I would be up there with them. I’m just super grateful and honoured to be part of this” – Manchester City and Australia’s Mary Fowler joins Canadian record scorer Christine Sinclair among nine female athletes to be honoured with a Barbie in their image.


Thanks to our friends at the Guardian Print Shop, we are giving away more David Squires cartoons. To enter, just write us a letter for publication below. We will choose the best of our letter o’ the day winners at the end of each week and that worthy winner will then be given a voucher for one of our top, top cartoonist’s prints. And if you’re not successful, you can scan the full archive of David’s cartoons here and buy your own. Terms and conditions for the competition can be viewed here.


Clearly, if you want excitement until the end of the season (re: Football Daily letters passim) you have to look to the Danish Superliga. Until last weekend’s penultimate round, there were four clubs with a chance to be crowned champions this coming Sunday. After FC Copenhagen’s defeat to AGF and a thrilling 3-3 draw between two of the other title contenders, FC Midtjylland and FC Nordsjælland, the race is down to two clubs, with Brøndby in pole position due to a better goal difference than Midtjylland. Just to pour salt in the wounds of fans of Manchester United, the team that kicked them out of Europe, FC Copenhagen, are (fingers crossed) just one loss away from missing out on European football for the first time in 24 years and can finish no better than third, which will earn them a playoff game with the winner of the relegation playoffs. This could be Vejle Boldklub, who until last weekend were in danger of the drop. Speaking of the drop, Hvidovre were relegated weeks ago, but the battle to avoid being the other team relegated is also going to the wire, with Lyngby leading OB by three points but with an inferior goal difference. All this means nine of the 12 clubs have more than pride to play for in the final round” – Lars Esbjerg.

While it’s very flattering to have hacks blowing the dust off their 1990s-era maps and writing about my beloved Ipswich Town again, can you all now just take the road out of Suffolk marked ‘Do One’ and let sleeping giants lie? All this speculation about Kieran McKenna is doing my head in. Bring back the vanilla days of dull-as-ditchwater McCarthyball and a string of ambitious but ultimately hopeless managers named Paul. Ah, the good old days when there was no hope to kill you” – Peter MacLeod.

I always remember asking an Italian friend of mine about Silvio Berlusconi and why the Italians kept wanting him back in charge of the government, despite his many, many misdemeanours. She said that for all his many, many faults, he seemed the only one who could keep it all together and functioning for two years without everything falling apart into utter shambles, after which everything would then promptly fall into even more of an utter shambles. Still, at least they had those two years. Extrapolate this to Chelsea and only one man in the last two decades has managed to keep it going for two years. So, at least to amuse the rest of us (for the first few months until he starts moaning about literally everything), get the once Special One then Happy One now Desperate for a Job One in” – Noble Francis.

May I be one of the 1,057 to point out that Rapid Bucharest’s Dan Sucu (yesterday’s Football Daily letters) is hardly the first Romanian owner with an undue focus on his players’ extracurriculars?” – Aidan Dunkelberg (and no others).

Following Danny Sullivan on Ian Wright’s non-Arsenal career (yesterday’s letters), I was reminded of my meeting with the pocket-sized goal getter. In the Bruce Rioch era at Arsenal, Wright was excluded from the squad so badly he took to Milan to watch his mate Paul Ince put in a man-of-the-match performance for Inter against Milan in a 1-0 derby victory at San Siro. The Inter team and Wright went to celebrate the win in Paolo Maldini’s trendy Milano nightspot Hollywood. As Ince had fallen asleep in the VIP area, I took my chance to speak with Wrighty to discuss how he should follow Ince’s path to Italy and tear up Serie A with his goals and then return to finish his career whence it started at my beloved Crystal Palace. Like many before me it was at that stage I heard his infectious laugh …” – Greg Grimmer.

Send letters to Today’s letter o’ the day winner is … Greg Grimmer, who now has the chance to win a David Squires cartoon from our print shop at the end of the week. Terms and conditions for all this can be viewed here.