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Joe Cole plays down talk of make-or-break week at Chelsea

By Sports Desk January 22, 2024

Joe Cole has thrown his weight behind Mauricio Pochettino ahead of a critical week for Chelsea.

The Blues are languishing ninth in the Premier League and trail fourth-placed Aston Villa by 12 points, but turn their focus to the domestic cups this week.

Championship Middlesbrough visit Stamford Bridge on Tuesday holding a one-goal advantage in the Carabao Cup semi-final while Villa await on Friday in an FA Cup fourth-round tie, but Cole does not believe this week is make-or-break for Pochettino.

“Pochettino is doing a great job. I think the club are not there and everyone needs to get behind Mauricio and really get behind his team because it will take that,” Cole told the PA news agency at the launch of Green Football Weekend at Wembley.

“No, I don’t think it is (make-or-break). I really don’t. What I took from the club is an element of ‘we will go with this, they’re young players’. The people at the top obviously believe bringing in these younger players and having a manager work with them will bear fruit later on.

“I think it needs time. ‘Poch’ has held himself impeccably well since he got there and done a great job. He is doing the right thing, he is trying to take pressure off the players because this isn’t the squad of the last 20 to 25 years of Chelsea.

“This is a different squad that is growing. They can become that if they stick together, learn and develop but there has been pain and there will be short-term pain.

“Nobody at Chelsea is happy sitting eighth in the league, let alone 12th like it was a few weeks ago, but you have to stick with them and let them grow. Let them become players in a top team.

“By the end of the season there needs to be improvement in the performances and something you can hold onto. I don’t think there is any requirements for European football, I don’t think there is any requirements for trophies and we’ve had a reality check.

“This is where we are and we have to build up. Unfortunately in football that is step by step.

“It isn’t ‘we’re going to buy another five players’ and all of a sudden we can compete with Man City. We’ll need to go to the summer, get the next two or three signings right, build again, get a little bit better.

“Hopefully if you make more good decisions than bad decisions, you’ll get back up there.”

The pressure would increase if results were not to go Chelsea’s way this week and one of their great managers is back on the market after Jose Mourinho was sacked by Roma.

While Cole played down his old boss potentially replacing Pochettino, he did insist all of England’s top clubs would talk to Mourinho if a vacancy opened up.

“For me, he has been a success everywhere he has gone and is still a top manager,” Cole added.

“All top clubs in England, if any of them change manager in the next six months and he is out of a job, he will be talked about and it will be a real conversation because he can still manage anybody.”

:: Green Football Weekend is on 3-4 February, head to greenfootballweekend.com to find out more on the campaign and score green goals for your club.

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