Chelsea has been described by Mauricio Pochettino as “our own worst enemies,” and he acknowledged that his team needs to adopt a realistic approach regarding Champions League football.
Chelsea’s impressive performance in early November quickly dissipated as they suffered a resounding 4-1 defeat at the hands of Newcastle United at St. James’ Park in their first match following the international break.
The team’s defensive weaknesses were exposed once more, and Mauricio Pochettino, the Argentine manager, appeared visibly affected by the emotional impact of that heavy loss during his press conference almost a week later. Pochettino extensively analyzed the underlying issues within his squad, going as far as labeling the defeat against Newcastle as the “worst of the season.”
“It was a tough week for everyone,” he admitted. “But I am very happy because I think they reacted very well. After you watch the game, it was worse than my feelings after the game. I was tough with them inside and outside [in the media]. But that was my feelings with them, because I think our approach was wrong so we take responsibility too.
“It was a good week to realise what we need to improve, to be more consistent and mature. We didn’t do things we cannot afford not to do in this process. I am very, very happy so far, even if it was tough in training and our meetings. But sometimes these situations help you improve. It’s not the opponent, we can see it against Tottenham, Manchester City and Newcastle.
Pochettino urges Chelsea players to improve
“You could easily say the one we were most likely to take points against was Newcastle because they had to play Paris Saint-Germain three days later, which could have been a distraction. Okay, we beat Tottenham and we lost against Newcastle. We are our own worst enemies and need to focus on us. If we are in a good place, we will compete in a good way and Brighton will not be a problem.”
Chelsea finds themselves 12 points adrift of fourth-placed Aston Villa in the Premier League standings after completing 13 rounds of matches. In order to secure a spot in the Champions League, the team must swiftly improve their performances and embark on a significant winning streak to match the pace set by the leading teams in England. Mauricio Pochettino acknowledges the immense challenge ahead and openly admits that it will be a difficult task to accomplish.
“If it is mathematically [possible], we need to believe it is realistic,” he said.
“It is another thing that will be tough to achieve, [qualifying] for European competition, but it is still there. Now, the most important thing is not to see the end of the season but to see the process and improve every day. That’s the most difficult thing in this process; it is to be focused on today and not tomorrow. That’s one aspect we were working on this week.”