Mauricio Pochettino: I do not want to ‘kiss the badge’ to please Chelsea fans

Mauricio Pochettino feels Chelsea’s remarkable victory against Manchester United has played a role in mending his strained connection with Blues fans, acknowledging it was risky to make the move to west London having spent five years as the boss of bitter rivals Tottenham Hotspur.

On a rainy Thursday night at Stamford Bridge, hotshot Cole Palmer scored goals in the 10th and 11th minutes of added time to earn a 4-3 win against United. Not only did it spark jubilant scenes in the stands but also prompted exuberant celebrations from Pochettino and his coaching staff in the dugout.

The Argentine has emphasised his desire not to be labelled as a ‘badge-kisser’ or a ‘populist’, yet his unmistakable passion for the job in west London shone through.

Following a dance on the pitch with his players and coaching staff, Pochettino remarked that he saw Chelsea’s late turnaround as crucial to maintaining support for him and his project with the Blues.

Mauricio Pochettino celebrating with his coaching staff.Mauricio Pochettino celebrating with his coaching staff.

Pochettino was ecstatic after Palmer’s winner / Marc Atkins/GettyImages

“The fans are so important in football,” Pochettino said at a press conference. “I am so happy, not only for the three points or because our performance was better than Manchester United, but because this was my first time here at Stamford Bridge that I started to feel a connection with the fans.

“That will be really helpful for us until the end of the season. That, for me, should be what’s really important.”

“I came from a different club, it’s normal that you need to convince [supporters]. I arrived [here] in a project that is different to the last 20 years. I played with my reputation to come here also, in a project that is to build a team with young, talented players with the potential to become top players.

“We knew that was a massive challenge – a challenge of building a team, of winning games, being competitive and to take the risk with the fans. But I’m not going to be a populist. I said from the beginning that I wanted to build a genuine relationship, not kiss the badge or do stupid things on the touchline to please the fans.

“What I want is to give the team the tools to win games, believe in ourselves and build a very good relationship.”

Next up for Pochettino and his men is a clash with Sheffield United at Bramall Lane. Palmer and Nicolas Jackson were on the scoresheet for Chelsea in a 2-0 win when the two sides went head-to-head in December.


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