Five problems Mauricio Pochettino needs to fix at Chelsea to avoid being a failure

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Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino is already under fire just six months after taking up the job.

Chelsea now meet a crossroads with manager Mauricio Pochettino as the Argentinian manager needs to respond immediately in their next few games. First, Fulham at an anticipated chilly yet expectant Stamford Fridge on Saturday. Things could spiral out of control if they don't win convincingly. 

Everywhere Pochettino has been and succeeded be it at Espenyol, Southampton or Tottenham the values of dedication, will to win, fearlessness, and sheer ambition show through. At Chelsea so far, it's been a lot of timid performances and just the occasional show of promise.

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During his playing days, Pochettino had charisma when he was captain of both Espanyol and PSG. Most of his teammates say he commanded respect and gave them a sense of security and authority. 

Arsene Wenger once said that a team is a reflection of the manager but this Chelsea team does not reflect the attributes that made him such a refreshing success at Southampton and later Tottenham. So for him to get it right, these are a few things he needs to correct instantly.

Charisma

Every great team needs an attitude. The great ones are uncompromising in standards and it doesn't matter the circumstances; the ultimate aim is to always put the team first. The great Chelsea sides had that charisma where they blew away second-tier sides even without kicking a ball. It's the mental defeat, it's the badge and it's the colour of the jersey that defeated teams even before the whistle was blown. 

Muhammed Ali once said: "The fight is won or lost far away from witnesses - behind the lines, in the gym, and out there on the road, long before I dance under those lights." Chelsea needs to rediscover that charisma that defeats teams even before a ball is kicked, that is the Chelsea of old.

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Personality

In Pochettino's first press conference he vowed to win and foster character, by getting to know his players. On that faithful Friday afternoon on the 7th of July 2023, the then-fresh Chelsea boss said: "First of all we need to see the squad and I need to know and feel the players and the commitment, the character, the personality, both positives and not so positives." 

Fair to say six months in and he's still not settled on the true characters that could get this team-blowing teams away. The Chelsea teams of the past had characters that were impregnable and personalities that were unbeatable. 

When they showed up for big games, they made their presence felt. John Mikel Obi tells a story of how Eden Hazard would 'lazy around' in training, but turned up every weekend to ensure they bagged their win leaving everyone happy. Pochettino needs to find that character in this young but promising team or he'll hit a wall soon. 

Instill a winning mentality

When Jose Mourinho walked through the doors at Chelsea he made a statement that resonated with fans that day. He stated he was the European Champion and thus he was the special one. However, there is another thing he said most missed that would end up being the foundation on which the new Chelsea would be built. 

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That day, Mourinho said he wanted to change the mentality of the club so that even when he was gone, Chelsea's mindset would be that of winners. And boy did he change it. The new owners have invested a lot of money and trusted Pochettino as the man to get the best out of the players they've bought. It is time that the Chelsea boss moved away from our "reality is that we are in mid-table" back to what he said when he was first appointed. 

At his first press conference, he said: "My target is to win, my aim is to win. If you are at a football club like Chelsea, you cannot just talk about doing a nice game, playing well. If you don't win at a club like Chelsea, you're going to struggle." This is the mindset that would set Chelsea on its way to winning.

Get the best out of Enzo and Caicedo

Ironically, Chelsea spent a combined £200 million on both Moises Caicedo and World Cup winner Enzo Fernandez yet it's Conor Gallagher who has been at Chelsea since he was eight that has been the club's best midfielder this season. Pochettino once joked that the owners would 'kill him' if he did not play Enzo Fernandez but that joke could turn out to be his reality. 

There is no doubting Fernandez's skill and ability yet there is also the fact that he's currently underachieving. The fault might not be entirely the manager's as he's played him in, deep, forward and central, yet the result is still the same. In the business of football, it's the manager who takes responsibility for players' failure and the earlier he finds a way to unlock Fernandez and the slightly improving Caicedo the better for him.

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Beat Middlesbrough and win the League Cup

This is non-negotiable. Chelsea should be able to beat second-tier side Middlesbrough and reach the final. They should be able to win regardless of whether they meet either Liverpool or Fulham in the final. 

The club is thirsty for a trophy and every manager who has succeeded and lasted long enough has been able to buy himself time by winning one. This is Pochettino's get-out-of-jail card and he needs to take full advantage of it. I mean if you can't beat Middlesbrough and reach the final of the League Cup then you don't deserve to be Chelsea manager.

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