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Mauricio Pochettino returns to Tottenham as the Chelsea project takes off again

FROM STAMFORD BRIDGE – Ever since Todd Boehly and BlueCo took over at Chelsea in the summer of 2022, there has been little to shout about.

The Blues finished the first season under his leadership in the bottom 12th place, all the while wearing the FIFA Club World Champions badge on his chest. It served as a reminder of their swift fall.

After cycling between the four main coaches – temporarily or otherwise – in 2022/23, Mauricio Pochettino was given the task of rebuilding Chelsea from the ground up this season. The bloated team was in dire need of a cut, with a focus on finishing and improving the team's small assets.

But for much of last spring, it looked like Pochettino would return to former club Tottenham Hotspur, who were in need of a replacement for Antonio Conte. Fans chanted Pochettino's name at home games at the end of the season, but Spurs did not pick up the phone from their old boss.

They finally settled on Ange Postecoglou, who had the north Londoners sitting at the top of the Premier League table in the autumn. When a soft-spoken Chelsea headed to N17 in November, Pochettino appeared to be in shock on his first return to the Tottenham Hotspur Stadium, perhaps still a little shaken.

Chelsea ran out 4-1 winners on a bonkers night but that was more down to Tottenham's downfall than their brilliance. But you can't take anything away from Pochettino for their lopsided win.

Spurs' annual disappointment at Stamford Bridge was the unexpected this time. Their hosts have been in and out of trouble and their strong finish in Sunday's 3-2 defeat by Arsenal suggested Postecoglou's men will be motivated in Thursday's game despite the defeat.

In the green corner, Chelsea only had 11 top players to call upon. Pochettino brought together only the seniors he had and he needed a perfect game from them. He got just that.

Goals throughout the half from Trevoh Chalobah and Nicolas Jackson – both free-kicks – ensured Chelsea ran past Tottenham, and they finally showed the defensive intensity Pochettino is known for instilling during his senior years at Spurs.

On the other hand, Postecoglou was irritated by his side's lack of cohesion, composure, and above all, humanity. They dwindled from the limelight and became Tottenham's latest victims in their Stamford Bridge graveyard.

Ange Postecoglou, Mauricio Pochettino

Pochettino inflicted more misery on Postecoglou / Robin Jones/GettyImages

Pochettino's career has had its fair share of doubts during his first season in west London, but his players have never given up – on the pitch and in the media – and there is a fiery spirit between them that is needed. bridging the talent gap in other areas. The 11 players available to the manager here, mercifully, make sense together on the football field and were the right profiles needed to play in his style.

When he was at Tottenham, Pochettino was an excellent fireman. His sides rarely ran on poor or barren roads, and when they did, he was always able to alleviate the situation and get them back on track. He was the face of the club, even if that meant absorbing bad news and results. He sacrificed himself for the good of the team.

That self-sacrificing quality is on display at Chelsea and the Blues need to stick with him, if only partly due to the lack of a top man available to them. When Postecoglou's stubbornness – especially with Spurs' organized problems – cost the visitors, Pochettino's team found a way to win by any means necessary, fighting for every inch and never giving up.

Spurs passed on Pochettino last year in search of a true and spiritual successor. His first reign unfolded when he failed to start a new cycle. Amidst the hustle and bustle of the Chelsea circus, he still finds a way to calm the storm. They are just three points off the Europa League places going into the final stages of the season despite such stupidity.


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