Mauricio Pochettino has analysed the reasons behind Chelsea’s recent problems converting performances into wins and explained how he is using psychology to solve the issues, leaving him certain it is only a matter of time before the team shows its true quality.
Chelsea suffered a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in the Premier League in our last fixture on Sunday, following on from a 0-0 draw at Bournemouth in the previous match, both games we arguably should have taken all three points from, based on our performance.
With one point from our two games since the international break, Mauricio Pochettino understands it is normal for people to question whether the squad the Blues have built is suffering from a lack of experience or is too focused on youth, but insists that is not the case, with injuries to key players during the early stages of the season giving a false impression of the team’s capabilities.
‘I really believe in the project because I think the balance is good, but the problem is that we cannot show it,’ he explained. ‘The results don’t reflect the balance because we have players who should be important today who are not in the team because they are injured. Even with all the players fit maybe you can lose games but when there are the circumstances that we have now, it is about having patience and trying to recover all the players.
‘When you see the squad I think we have a very good balance. But it’s true now when you see Reece James injured and Malo Gusto out for three games we need to play with a player who is not a full-back, people will ask what is going on. When something like this happens now everyone can talk about how maybe it’s not all right, but I really believe in the project, it’s only about time.
‘We hope to have time to change that perception, because we are going to change that perception. We only need time until we start to be more positive and get some results which help us to increase our confidence.’
However, he is also well aware that building confidence is not something he can just click his fingers and achieve. Instead it is a process of working with the players to help them feel the trust and freedom from pressure to perform at their best, and gave an example from yesterday’s training session to illustrate how he is trying to do that.
‘We cannot buy confidence at the supermarket! It is about time, because that is how our brains work. It is about little by little creating situations that can provide the trust and the confidence and the belief,’ added Pochettino.
‘I like to play hitting the crossbar from outside the box with the players, and today Mudryk was saying he didn’t want to play with me anymore because I always win. I told him it was because I have the belief. The balance between belief and quality I know very well because I am 50 years old, and he is still young and needs to know himself. Today was the first time that we drew, because I always won.
‘So I said to him: “now you start to believe in yourself, now you start to believe in your quality.” Because if there is not a good balance between belief and quality it is difficult. That is important and that is one aspect of that, where you work on the psychology of the player. That can make the difference and can provide the players with the confidence afterwards when they need to touch the ball and score, rather than go outside or inside.’
Although Pochettino is well aware that improving the situation, both physically and mentally, to have the squad all fully fit and confident, will require some patience, he remains optimistic, as he believes there is more right than wrong in the team. In his view, we just need a few pieces to slot into place, and he is leaving no stone unturned in his pursuit of them.
‘All that we are missing is the last touch. We are at the top in everything, the only problem is the last touch. Maybe it’s about practicing more, so we will practice. Maybe it’s about staying more relaxed. There are many things which can affect it. Also we are Chelsea, with the pressure to win, especially after a game when you don’t win and you don’t score, so maybe it can be that.
‘We need to provide them with the possibility to be more relaxed and for sure we will practice more. We are doing a lot of finishing, we are focused on trying to create something for them to be more relaxed, showing them clips and everything. But sometimes when you are pushing, pushing, pushing, it is time to relax. I think for sure when we start to score the team is going to win games.’
Pochettino will be hoping his faith is repaid with some confidence-boosting goals and wins as soon as possible, preferably beginning tonight when we host Brighton in the third round of the Carabao Cup.