Mauricio Pochettino has said that Chelsea need to be “ambitious, and not put limits [on ourselves]”.
In an exclusive interview with TNT Sports’ Glenn Hoddle, the Chelsea manager said that he is eyeing up silverware during his tenure at Stamford Bridge, and he will be disappointed were that not to happen.
“For me, I’m really honest. I want to win,” Pochettino said. “We have the Premier League, FA Cup, and Carabao Cup. It’s about going and lifting the trophy. If not, I’m going to feel disappointed.
“We need to be ambitious, and not put limits [on ourselves]. Even if people can say it’s difficult for Chelsea to achieve what the club deserves or the history says. From my point of view, it’s about creating a winning mentality with this group, not the club.
“The club has this amazing mentality that is about winning. We have a group of players of whom we need to win together; today. It’s not okay because we have this badge [to expect that we are going to win].
“It’s about the everyday standards, and having them high to create the mentality to match the club and the fans. If you ask me, I wanted to win yesterday, not today. That is going to push us to be better every day and why not, to finish [strongly] at the end of the season.”
As Pochettino’s Blues gear up to face Brentford live on TNT Sports on Saturday, they sit 10th in the Premier League table, just two places higher than the club finished last season under interim head coach Frank Lampard.
But under the Argentine, something feels different in a much-evolved, and much more competitive Premier League environment.
“The Premier League was always tough,” Pochettino says, recalling his spells managing Tottenham Hotspur, and before that, Southampton.
He said: “Now, the ideas and the philosophies that we see in the Premier League are more similar than the past. In previous years it was a different style of football. Today, the challenge is [overcoming] the increased level of quality.
“The Premier League is the most powerful league in the world, and you can attract very good players from Europe and the rest of the world. Teams at the bottom of the table can attract good players technically and that makes it very difficult. That is why it is the best league in the world.”
Pochettino believes that recent performances and results are reason to be positive, but he demands time to allow the full potential of his project to be realised.
“No one is magic. We don’t have the magic touch,” he said. “It’s about time and work. Because of the circumstances, sometimes they aren’t the best… injuries, for example, or players arriving at the last moment with no pre-season. That’s why we need time, but we have clear ideas how we deal with all these situations, but we have a plan, project and vision.
“We need time to work, and of course, with time, we can be close in the way we want to work and play, and show the characteristics of the team. I am happy in the last moments, as the players are starting to recognise what we expect from them. When a positive result arrives, you can start to go faster in the evolution. When the results are not there, it creates some doubts.”
Within the Chelsea project, much has been made of the large influx of young talents at Stamford Bridge, on long contracts and for high transfer fees. But the more senior heads in the dressing room are playing their part too.
Sterling ‘starting to feel himself’
One of those is Raheem Sterling, signed from Manchester City for £47.5 million, and who appears rejuvenated and back to his best under Pochettino.
“We are happy with the way [Raheem] is working,” Pochettino said. “He’s doing well. He’s starting to feel himself, and he’s confident in his qualities and talent. It’s not only him, other players we’re starting to see the evolution and individual improvement and now, we’re in the process, where the player improves individually, and then it’s how they can add the quality to the team and how they can perform collectively, and that is when we start to see how we want to perform.”
In defence, Reece James and Thiago Silva are two of the few survivors of a swift change in personnel at the back for The Blues.
James, now captaining his boyhood club, has struggled with injury this term, limping off after 70 minutes against Liverpool on the opening day, but he made his return to the side off the bench against Arsenal last weekend.
“[Reece] is the captain for us and an amazing player,” Pochettino remarked. “He could only play 70 minutes against Liverpool before he got injured, and now, little by little, he’s moving forward. He’s still not able to play from the beginning, but he’s starting to be involved, and he’s going to be very important.
“All this situation was affecting the evolution of the team and sometimes the results. That is why when we have all the players fit, the competition is going to increase between them and we’re going to perform much, much better.”
For Thiago Silva, the 39-year-old centre-back, Pochettino simply wants the Brazilian to enjoy the twilight years of his illustrious career.
“He’s amazing,” Pochettino said. “It’s difficult to talk about him with his performances and the way he looks after himself. He’s professional, and that is why he is 39 still competing in the Premier League.
“Sometimes we talk about being able to train every day or being in the physical condition [to compete], and when you are 19 or 20, you want to run, but for him, it’s about looking after himself. I want him to enjoy playing, because when he stops, he will see how different life is.”
Looking ahead to the game against Brentford, live on TNT Sports, Pochettino believes that his players can take confidence from their recent positive results, while remaining alert of the threats that The Bees can bring.
“The most important thing in that moment is about us; improving ourselves, and with the confidence of the last few games, it’s important for us to trust in ourselves, but of course, we have to pay attention to the opponent. Brentford are doing really well.
“It’s true that you sometimes have to change the structure when you play [a certain opponent], depending on which type of game you’re going to face. We expect that [they] will play either 4-3-3 or 5-3-2. It’s two different shapes they can use, and that’s why we’ve paid attention and prepared things for tomorrow, but I think they’re doing fantastically; very good players, very good coach. They are doing a fantastic job.”
HOW TO WATCH CHELSEA V BRENTFORD
Chelsea v Brentford will be live on TNT Sports 1 and TNT Sports Ultimate with coverage from 11:00 UK time on Saturday, October 28.
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