Why Chelsea’s second half woes threatens to cost Mauricio Pochettino his Chelsea managerial job

Why Chelsea’s second half woes threatens to cost Mauricio Pochettino his Chelsea managerial job

It was almost an unexpected reception at full-time for Chelsea. Granted, there were some boos around Stamford Bridge but it felt a lot more subdued and reserved than in recent weeks.

Yet Saturday afternoon was one of the Blues’ worst results of the season – despite picking up a point. Let’s put some much-needed context out there…

Chelsea were at home to – according to the Premier League table – the division’s second-worst team. Burnley then have a man sent off towards the end of the first-half. And it got worse for them when the animated Vincent Kompany was also shown a red card for his reaction to Lorenz Assignon’s sending off.

However, the boos certainly were not as loud as we have heard after, or sometimes during, recent matches. Mauricio Pochettino called on the supporters to get behind Chelsea’s young squad a few days ago and they did that at Stamford Bridge on Saturday afternoon.

The team, however, did not complete their end of the deal. The performance, while at times putting together some slick moves, was not what Pochettino was after. In fact, he was furious with how his players performed while out of possession.

“Sorry, but I am not happy with the performance when we don’t have the ball,” a passionate Pochettino explained in his post-match press conference. “If we are able to create chances in the way we did and have the capacity to move and to find all the different ways to penetrate a team that play with a block very deep.

“They are a very physical team, we need to be strong also and have the capacity to recover the ball too much. Remember the first-half, the ‘keeper played quick into action and the action finished in our last third, into the box.

“That is about to have hunger, to compete. Sorry for my speech but it is difficult to accept not to win a game because it’s a must-win game to attack a different position [in the league].”

The Argentine said the word “sorry” twice in his press conference and he also apologised to Alf Wells, who was celebrating his 100th birthday at Stamford Bridge. Pochettino went up to Wells in the media room and had a brief conversation with him and started with an apology for the result and the performance he had just witnessed.

He felt as if he owed Wells an apology because of a performance from his side that we have seen too much of this season. There is a deeply concerning trend with the Blues at the moment and that is starting the second-half of games extraordinarily slowly and effectively costing themselves the match.

Burnley equalised on 47 minutes on Saturday. Leicester City pulled one back on 51 minutes in the FA Cup quarter-final. Brentford levelled the match earlier in the month on 50 minutes. Leeds United scored on 59. The list goes on.

Chelsea have conceded goals in 11 games between the 45th and 60th minute this season in all competitions. If the Premier League table was done on the second-half alone, Chelsea would be in 18th-place – in the relegation zone.

Whatever is happening in that dressing room during the break is not working. Chelsea can go out and play a positive first 45 minutes but destroy that for themselves in the opening minutes of the second period.

Pochettino’s position at the club will be assessed in the summer, as we all know, but if this continues between now and the remainder of the campaign then it could ultimately be the thing that costs the Argentine his job.

Cole Palmer, the star of the show yet again for Chelsea on Saturday after scoring his 14th and 15th goals of the season, summed it up perfectly: “It’s poor, really. It can’t happen. Especially when they go down to ten men.

“We got too comfortable. Same story, we kill ourselves every week. It’s got to improve from us as players. We need consistency.”

There does seem to be a sense of comfort when Chelsea come out for the second-half. A sense from the players that they can take their foot off the gas. It always allows the opposition back into the game.

“Sorry” was the word Pochettino used multiple times post-match. But for a lot of Chelsea fans, “sorry” does not quite cut it at the moment.

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