How Mauricio Pochettino’s dramatic first season could go at Chelsea - according to Football Manager

The former Spurs manager is in for an eventful season in charge at Stamford Bridge if Football Manager is proven correct.

Mauricio Pochettino has agreed to take charge of Chelsea next season and is already said to be formulating plans to help the Blues move on from what has been a deeply disappointing season at Stamford Bridge.

The former Argentina international has been out of management since he left Ligue 1 giants Paris Saint-Germain last summer but will make a return to a Premier League dugout for the first time since he left Tottenham Hotspur in November 2019 when the new season gets underway. So we here at 3AddedMinutes wondered how he may get on and we thought we would utilise the world’s best managerial simulation to help us find out.

So, with Football Manager 2023 fully fired up, and Pochettino firmly in situ at Stamford Bridge ahead of the new virtual season, this is how the world’s most popular managerial football sim predicts the former Spurs manager will fare in West London.

Transfer business

Perhaps there were some issues hanging over from the extensive recruitment campaign overseen by Todd Boehly during the first season of his ownership but Pochettino made just one new signing throughout the campaign.

That came midway through the August transfer window as Porto’s 32-year-old defensive midfielder Mateus Uribe moved to Stamford Bridge in a deal that was initially worth £14.25m, with a further £3m to follow in add-ons.

Outgoings were more significant as the former Spurs manager allowed N’Golo Kante to depart when his contract came to a close. The France international remained in the Premier League after signing a two-year deal at Liverpool.

Pochettino also opted against converting Denis Zakaria and Joao Felix’s loan spells into permanent moves as they returned to Juventus and Atletico Madrid respectively. Several players did depart on loan as Andrey Santos joined Sunderland during the summer transfer window and Lewis Hall and Christian Pulisic made respective moves to Norwich City and Newcastle United during January.

A promising start

Pochettino was given something of a baptism of fire as Chelsea were handed an away day at Old Trafford on the opening day of the season and that was followed by a home game against Arsenal. However, two Kai Havertz goals gave the Blues a 2-1 win at Old Trafford before the German made it three goals in two games in a 1-0 victory against the Gunners.

That laid the foundations for a promising start to the season as Pochettino’s side remained unbeaten until the seventh game of the season when Aleksandar Mitrovic got the only goal of Fulham’s 1-0 win at Stamford Bridge.

Away day pain and a cup exit cause concern

Although Chelsea recovered from that West London derby defeat with wins against Everton, Nottingham Forest and Wolves, trouble lay just around the corner with consecutive away losses at Crystal Palace, Brighton and Hove Albion and Newcastle United.

A first route to silverware was ended when Antony and Marcus Rashford scored the goal that helped Manchester United exact revenge on the Blues for that opening day defeat by claiming a 2-1 win at the Bridge in a Carabao Cup third round tie.

A not-so Merry Christmas for Poch

The crucial festive period provided little cheer for Pochettino and Chelsea as they slipped into mid-table by labouring to 2-2 draws at West Ham United and Brentford. But the real damage was done in between those games as Julian Alvarez and Cole Palmer netted in Manchester City’s Boxing Day win at Stamford Bridge. o make matters worse for Pochettino, Kai Havertz tore a hamstring and Ben Chilwell was shown a red card during the game.

Despite those blows, there was something of recovery in the new year as a quarter of wins were secured to take Chelsea into the fifth round of the FA Cup and back into contention for a top six place.

Confidence drains before a shock decision

February was a mixed bag after a the Blues took six points from Everton and Brentford but fell to a home defeat against Arsenal. That seemed to have a catastrophic impact on Pochettino’s side as they crashed out of the FA Cup with a 5-1 home defeat against Manchester City in the fifth round and then took just five points from their following six Premier League games. The only win of that run was a significant one as a Raheem Sterling hat-trick and a Mason Mount goal gave Poch a 4-1 win at former club Spurs.

That scoreline was repeated at Leicester City seven days later but the season drew to a close with draws against Aston Villa and Leeds United and a final day defeat at Liverpool that left the Blues sat in sixth place when the final whistle was blown on the season. Despite securing a place in the Europa League, Pochettino was sacked just two days after the Anfield reverse and former Chelsea managers Maurizo Sarri and Claudio Ranieri were immediately linked with a return to the club.