Mauricio Pochettino finds constant talk of Chelsea’s billion-pound spend tiresome and remains convinced his under-fire players will develop into “an amazing team”.

Blues boss Pochettino has overseen an underwhelming campaign since arriving at Stamford Bridge last summer and his expensively-assembled squad faced further criticism following Sunday’s Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool.

Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville branded them “blue billion-pound bottle jobs” late in their 1-0 extra-time defeat to opponents deprived of a host of star names due to injury.

Former Tottenham and Paris St Germain manager Pochettino is confident he retains the backing of Chelsea’s co-owners Todd Boehly and Behdad Eghbali and is adamant the club’s costly long-term project in the post-Roman Abramovich era is destined for success.

“The problem is so annoying when after eight months always people talk about one billion,” Pochettino said ahead of Wednesday’s FA Cup fifth-round tie at home to Leeds.

“I feel that’s a little bit unfair.

“The new owners arrived with the right intention and they want to build something that is different from the past.

“For me the players have an amazing quality, they only need time.

“It’s not an excuse for me because if I am here or not, it’s not dependent on me, it’s dependent of my job and I think we are doing an amazing job.

“We cannot see maybe great results. But I think with time we are going to have an amazing team because we are young, we are learning, because we create something that starts to appear in the training ground.”

Chelsea sit 11th in the Premier League, 17 points adrift of the top four and 15 above the relegation zone.

European qualification already looks to be a major ask, while the big-spending Blues must overcome the side sitting second in the Sky Bet Championship to progress to the FA Cup quarter-finals and keep alive hope of silverware this term.

“People that work here for many years say they start to feel in a different way how the club is,” said Pochettino.

“But unfortunately we cannot relate in points. Always this type of process needs time.”

Asked if he expects the club’s ownership to remain patient with him, Pochettino replied: “Why not? I am confident until they tell me something.

“I feel the support from them. When I go up (to receive his runners-up medal at Wembley), I was so upset, nearly crying when I arrived there.

“And then Todd sent a very, very nice text to me, and then I met Behdad and he was really, really good.

“Our responsibility is to match the expectation, and when the expectation and the reality is close it’s easy.

“We need to translate to our people that they need to trust and be patient because we are building in a different way to succeed.”

Pochettino has been encouraged by his players’ response to the weekend disappointment and feels they are motivated to prove a point against Leeds.

“Always the pressure is to win and to go through,” he said.

“To arrive to the first final of the season in England is a massive achievement but after you don’t get the title it’s tough.

“Now is a game that is going to be tough. We need to be strong, with good energy and the players want to show that we are in the way that is going to be good for the club.”

Jordan Roberts scored the only goal as Stevenage edged past managerless Cambridge to move back into the play-off places in Sky Bet League One.

Roberts put the hosts in front 10 minutes before the break, firing past U’s goalkeeper Jack Stevens from the edge of the box.

But Stevenage’s opener could have come earlier had it not been for Stevens saving Cambridge on two occasions.

The first stop came after Jamie Reid raced away before Kane Hemmings’ header forced Stevens to parry a second chance.

Boro finally took the lead when Roberts collected the ball and struck on the swivel for his fifth league goal of the season in the 35th minute.

Cambridge, who saw manager Neil Harris depart for Millwall last week, managed to get a foothold in the second half and Jack Lankester hit a volley just over the crossbar.

But Stevenage held on for a vital boost to their play-off hopes, reclaiming a place in the top six after a second successive 1-0 home win.

Leyton Orient kept their Sky Bet League One play-off hopes alive as Ollie O’Neill scored the only goal in the 1-0 victory over Blackpool.

Both teams battled hard in the opening half in a vain attempt to gain supremacy without managing to break down resilient defences.

The visitors almost nosed ahead after 11 minutes when Karamoko Dembele raided down the right side and delivered a cross into the box that just eluded Jake Beesley.

At the opposite end, Orient striker Shaq Forde raced clear but instead of shooting for goal, he opted to overhit a pass which gave the Tangerines chance to retreat.

The second half was just seven minutes old when O’Neill opened the scoring. Collecting a pass from Ruel Sotiriou he drilled a left-footed shot into the far corner to record his third goal since joining from Fulham in January.

Blackpool’s woes continued when, shortly afterwards, substitute Andrew Lyons pulled up whilst chasing the ball and was carried off the pitch on a stretcher.

The visitors failed to manage a shot on target in the second period as Orient’s defence, superbly marshalled by Brandon Cooper, comfortably protected their lead.

Bolton suffered a huge blow to their promotion hopes as Wigan completed a Sky Bet League One double over their neighbours thanks to a Stephen Humphrys goal at the DW Stadium.

Bolton created the first chance when Paris Maghoma burst his way past Luke Chambers only to be denied by Sam Tickle.

The visitors were then hampered by the loss of Carlos Mendes Gomes to injury in pretty innocuous fashion, but they continued to boss proceedings.

And defender Eoin Toal had two great chances, heading over from a right-wing cross before seeing a long-range strike well saved by Tickle.

The second half was the same story as Nathaniel Ogbeta’s shot was tipped round the post by Tickle, who then turned away a dangerous free-kick by Josh Sheehan.

At this point, Wigan had not registered an attempt on goal, but that changed on 69 minutes when substitute Humphrys – who had scored twice in August’s 4-0 away win – played a one-two with Chambers before prodding the ball under Joel Coleman.

Wigan had chances to kill off the game too, with Thelo Aasgaard’s volley forcing a brilliant save from Coleman before another substitute, Martial Godo, poked the ball just wide.

Bolton had a great chance to level with two minutes to go, only for Ricardo Santos to head wide from four yards, with most of the players on the pitch being embroiled in a melee on the full-time whistle.

Substitute Abdul Fatawu scored a stunning extra-time winner as Bournemouth lost 1-0 at home to Sky Bet Championship leaders Leicester.

Fatawu collected Kelechi Iheanacho’s pass on the edge of the penalty area before bending a powerful left-foot shot into the top corner to send the Foxes into the quarter-finals.

Leicester made nine changes from the side beaten at home by promotion rivals Leeds last week but still showed their Premier League credentials.

Dennis Praet had the game’s first shot on target when he put an overhead-kick tamely into the arms of goalkeeper Mark Travers from Marc Albrighton’s lofted cross.

Arjan Raikhy also fired wide from the edge of the box in the opening minutes.

Bournemouth rested top-scorer Dominic Solanke and handed a full debut to January transfer window signing Enes Unal.

Turkey international Unal caught the eye with an industrious first-half display, although his ninth-minute 30-yard free-kick was a touch ambitious as it flew high and wide.

In the 15th minute, Leicester’s stand-in goalkeeper Jakub Stolarczyk had to come quickly off his line to beat Unal to Philip Billing’s through ball.

And three minutes later Hamza Choudhury was on hand to clear Unal’s close-range shot off the line.

Bournemouth midfielder Alex Scott should have done better after being picked out by Luis Sinisterra’s low cross but he blazed over from midway inside the penalty area.

Leicester continued to pose a threat on the counter-attack and Yunus Akgun should have at least hit the target when he headed wide from another Albrighton centre.

The Foxes had another big let-off 11 minutes before half-time as left-back Milos Kerkez drilled a cross-shot towards the six-yard box but Unal could only stab wide.

Albrighton, one of the few survivors from Leicester’s 2021 FA Cup-winning side, was inches away from firing the Foxes ahead in the 41st minute when his low strike from the edge of the area slammed against a post.

Bournemouth goalkeeper Travers then made an acrobatic save to turn Wanya Marcal’s follow-up effort over the crossbar.

In the final minutes of the half, Stolarczyk made a good reaction save to keep out Sinisterra’s header from a corner before Scott put the rebound wide at the far post.

It was Bournemouth’s turn to be denied by the woodwork five minutes into the second half as Marcos Senesi’s long-range curler beat Stolarczyk before hitting a post.

Stolarczyk was called into action again in the 74th minute to beat away Kerkez’s well-struck near-post effort.

Akgun should have won it four minutes from the end of normal time when he found himself one-on-one with Travers but blazed over.

Just as the game looked to be heading for a penalty shootout, Ghanaian Fatawu won it in the final minute of the first half of extra time.

Lasse Sorensen scored a goal of the season contender as in-form Lincoln stretched their unbeaten League One run to nine matches with a 3-0 defeat of Shrewsbury.

The Danish full-back found the top corner from the right touchline to add to earlier efforts from Teddy Bishop and Reeco Hackett as the Imps emphatically tamed the Shrews at Sincil Bank.

Chey Dunkley poked an early effort wide for Shrewsbury before City went down the other end and took the lead.

Hackett’s corner was headed back across goal by Paudie O’Connor to Joe Taylor, whose shot was blocked, with the rebound falling to Hackett whose effort was then kept out, only for Bishop to find the net.

Bishop curled a 20-yard free-kick just over and then Hackett missed a golden chance to double City’s lead nine minutes into the second half, drilling wide when put through by Ethan Erhahon.

Hackett made amends just four minutes later, though, smashing a left-footed shot into the top corner following a delightful back-heeled pass from Taylor.

Hackett and Taylor were thwarted by Shrews goalkeeper Harry Burgoyne within a few seconds and then Sorensen drove into the side-netting as City went for the jugular.

A third inevitably came after 67 minutes with an incredible effort from Sorensen.

The hosts had won a penalty after Ben House was brought down by Burgoyne.

Bishop struck a post from the spot, with the ball rebounding out to Sorensen on the right wing. The Dane instinctively let fly, with the ball arcing into the top left-hand corner of the net.

Taylor Perry finally had the Shrews’ first shot on target after 70 minutes but Lukas Jensen produced a routine save.

Toyosi Olusanya’s last-gasp strike for St Mirren denied Ross County three points that would have moved them out of the relegation play-off place in the cinch Premiership.

Jordan White had given the hosts a first-half lead in Dingwall, making the most of an Alex Gogic mistake to put the Staggies ahead in the 12th minute.

St Mirren fought valiantly for an equaliser but they had to be patient, with Olusanya’s goal eventually coming in the 90th minute.

There was just one change between the two starting XIs – Eli King coming into Ross County’s line-up in place of Teddy Jenks.

The visitors had not settled when a mistake at the back gifted Ross County the opening goal in the 12th minute.

Gogic attempted to pass the ball back to his goalkeeper, only for White to nip in ahead of Zach Hemming and round the Buddies goalkeeper before rolling the ball into an empty net for his sixth goal of the season in all competitions.

County had to be on their guard to prevent a quick St Mirren response, with keeper George Wickens diving to his right to keep out Caolan Boyd-Munce’s deflected strike.

It was a similar story at the start of the second half, with Lewis Jamieson this time cutting inside from the right flank and forcing an acrobatic stop from Wickens.

St Mirren continued to put the pressure on their hosts and as the clock ticked down, Stephen Robinson threw on some fresh legs to give the visitors fresh impetus going forward.

It worked as Keanu Baccus’ header sent Olusanya goal-side of Loick Ayina to finish into the bottom corner in the last minute.

Ross County remain 11th, while St Mirren move to within a point of fourth-placed Kilmarnock.

Hamilton moved eight points clear of third place in the cinch League One table with a 0-0 draw at Stirling.

Albion started strongly and Accies keeper Dean Lyness had to save from Josh McPake and twice from Euan Henderson in quick succession.

However, Hamilton’s Kevin O’Hara was denied by the woodwork when his 36th-minute header came back off the crossbar to ensure the sides remained locked together at the break.

Reghan Tumilty went close for the visitors four minutes after the restart and substitute Michael Hewitt did the same 11 minutes from time.

Jackson Longridge for Hamilton and substitute Lewis Milne for Stirling came closest to breaking the deadlock as time ran down, but the game ended scoreless to end Hamilton’s run of three straight losses.

Beryly Lubala’s stunning strike sealed a 2-0 victory for Wycombe over struggling Cheltenham that eased fears of them being dragged deeper into the scrap against relegation.

The Chairboys were frustrated for most of the night by a superb performance by Robins goalkeeper Luke Southwood, but they were eventually able to record their first win in four games in League One.

Wycombe dominated the first half, with Kieran Sadlier drawing a good save from Southwood, who later tipped a fizzing volley from Dale Taylor on to the top of the bar.

The 26-year-old continued to frustrate the hosts after half-time when he saved Freddie Potts’ penalty before he got down brilliantly to push Garath McCleary’s low drive wide.

But he was finally beaten with five minutes left when Joe Low was on hand to blast in from close range after McCleary’s corner caused havoc in the six-yard box.

Lubala then sealed the win three minutes later when Luke Leahy rolled the ball into his path and he unleashed a thunderbolt that gave Southwood, for so long unbeatable, no chance.

Substitute Jayden Stockley scored two late goals as Fleetwood came from 2-0 down to snatch a 2-2 draw with fellow Sky Bet League One strugglers Port Vale.

Darren Moore looked on course to celebrate his first win as Vale manager as the Valiants looked comfortable with only two minutes remaining.

Instead, it is now four games without a win for Moore since he replaced Andy Crosby.

Stockley, who also scored in the Cod Army’s 3-0 success over Vale earlier this month, pulled a goal back in the 88th minute.

And two minutes into stoppage time he headed in Phoenix Patterson’s corner to earn the visitors the unlikeliest of points.

Moore has now presided over three defeats and a draw, but first-half goals from Jensen Weir and Ethan Chislett suggested it might be fourth time lucky.

Brighton loanee Weir opened his account with an 18th-minute strike from teenager Baylee Dipepa’s assist.

Fleetwood were second best as Chislett won a contentious 42nd-minute penalty which he converted for his ninth goal of the campaign.

The visitors bossed the second half, however, and super-sub Stockley came to their rescue.

Erling Haaland scored five of Manchester City’s six goals in a superb individual display as the FA Cup holders thrashed Luton at Kenilworth Road to progress to the quarter-finals.

City’s top scorer made it 27 for the season despite having missed almost two months with a foot injury, driving his team on to a ruthless 6-2 victory, though the win owed as much to the excellent Kevin De Bruyne, architect of four of his team-mate’s goals.

Mateo Kovacic also scored with a worthy strike of his own late on after Jordan Clark had netted either side of the interval to haul Luton from three down to within a single goal. In truth, though, they never really got close to City.

Pep Guardiola’s side were irresistible in the first half, ripping through Luton from all angles with De Bruyne and Haaland at their electric best. It took under three minutes to make their breakthrough.

Manuel Akanji brought it out of defence and fed Matheus Nunes ahead of him on the left. Nunes stood up Amari’i Bell and played a clever reverse pass that split Luton’s back line and ran through to De Bruyne, and he raised his glance to see Haaland waiting to wrap his left boot around the ball and thump it home from 10 yards.

Luton’s Teden Mengi had competed well with Haaland, matching him for power and strength in one-on-one duels, but after 18 minutes the City striker won out and doubled his side’s lead. De Bruyne again was the creator, receiving it from Haaland on halfway and returning it into the Norwegian’s stride. He burst beyond Mengi and crashed it through the legs of Tim Krul with unerring cool.

His hat-trick nearly arrived soon after, a ball threaded through at pace by John Stones finding his run, but this time Krul raced out and blocked. Nunes was next to go close, thrashing wide at the near post after finding space inside the box.

City threatened to run riot. De Bruyne hit a low volley brilliantly beaten out by the right arm of Krul, who was rewarded with good fortune on the rebound when Haaland’s follow-up landed in his gloves.

Luton wanted offside for Haaland’s third, but VAR showed he had timed his run off the shoulder substitute Joe Johnson expertly. The finish, chipped over Krul as he advanced, oozed confidence.

It looked like being a near-perfect half for Guardiola, marred only by the loss of Jack Grealish just before the break to injury.

Then out of nothing, Luton brought a roar from home fans on the stroke of the interval, a brilliant finish sent spinning into Stefan Ortega’s top corner from 25 yards by Clark.

They came at City at the start of the second half with the same ferocity with which the holders had begun the match, and they were rewarded similarly early. Clark was closer to goal this time though the angle was devilish. A shot across the goalkeeper looked to be on, but instead he lashed it towards the near post and beyond Ortega for 3-2.

It gave Kenilworth Road all of three minutes to dream. That was all it took for Haaland to score his and his team’s fourth, De Bruyne again the provider as he squared for a simple tap-in.

His fifth was harsh on Krul, a left-foot drive squirming through the goalkeeper as though bamboozled by City’s dizzying onslaught. Haaland had scored five in under an hour.

Kovacic added his name to the scoresheet, rifling one in in the 72nd minute to deepen Luton’s misery.

There was at least late respite when Haaland was brought off in the closing stages. It had been his and City’s night.

Teenager Karoy Anderson scored his first senior goal earned Charlton a shock 2-1 win at promotion-chasing Derby.

Eiran Cashin put Derby ahead but Alfie May scored from the penalty spot before 19-year-old Anderson sealed Charlton’s first win since November.

Derby dominated from the start, but did not have a shot until the 25th minute when Korey Smith fired wide from the edge of the box.

Charlton did well to frustrate the hosts, but they fell behind to a set-piece in the 39th minute.

Nathaniel Mendez-Laing swung over a corner and Cashin got in front of a defender to head in at the near post.

Charlton should have equalised in the 61st minute when substitute Chuks Aneke headed a corner against the crossbar, but they were level four minutes later.

Home goalkeeper Joe Wildsmith brought down Daniel Kanu and May stroked the penalty into the bottom right corner.

Charlton stunned Derby in the 80th minute when a mistake by Ebou Adams let Kanu in and although Wildsmith saved, Anderson smashed the rebound home.

Lasse Sorensen scored a goal of the season contender as in-form Lincoln stretched their unbeaten League One run to nine matches with a 3-0 defeat of Shrewsbury.

The Danish full-back found the top corner from the right touchline to add to earlier efforts from Teddy Bishop and Reeco Hackett as the Imps emphatically tamed the Shrews at Sincil Bank.

Chey Dunkley poked an early effort wide for Shrewsbury, before City went down the other end and Hackett’s corner created the opener.

Joe Taylor’s shot was blocked, with the rebound falling to Hackett whose effort was then kept out, only for Bishop to fire his effort into the bottom corner.

Bishop curled a 20-yard free-kick just over and then Hackett missed a golden chance to double City’s lead nine minutes into the second half, drilling wide when put through by Ethan Erhahon.

Hackett made amends just four minutes later, though, smashing a left-footed shot into the top corner following a delightful back-heeled pass from Taylor.

Both Hackett and Taylor were thwarted by Harry Burgoyne within a few seconds and then Sorensen drove into the side-netting as City went for the jugular.

A third inevitably came after 67 minutes with an incredible effort from Sorensen. The hosts had won a penalty after House was brought down by Burgoyne. Bishop struck a post from the spot, with the ball rebounding out to Sorensen on the right wing. The Dane instinctively let fly, with the ball arcing into the top left-hand corner of the net.

Taylor Perry finally had the Shrews’ first shot on target after 70 minutes, but Lukas Jensen produced a routine save.

Carlisle ended a run of eight straight defeats as captain Paul Huntington scored the only goal to seal a scrappy 1-0 win at Burton.

The Cumbrians had to battle hard for their victory as Albion’s home woes were extended to a third straight loss – the Brewers have failed to score in each of those defeats.

Carlisle midfielder Jack Diamond tested Max Crocombe in the Burton goal with an early effort from range after Albion had made a bright promising opening.

Burton continued to enjoy the lion’s share of the play and skipper John Brayford forced an excellent save from Harry Lewis as the home side searched for the breakthrough.

But it was Carlisle who grabbed the lead just before the half hour, Sam Lavelle heading Taylor Charters free-kick on to Huntington and beyond Crocombe.

Deji Oshilaja was denied by Lewis early in the second half before Crocombe produced an outstanding save midway through the second half to keep out Diamond’s curling effort.

Albion threw on all their attacking options at Carlisle, but the visitors clung on for a precious victory.

Trinidad and Tobago's senior Soca Warriors will up the ante on preparations for their upcoming Copa America qualifying assignment, when they tackle Jamaica's Reggae Boyz in a two-match friendly series on Friday and Sunday.

The games which are scheduled to be played at the Ramjohn Stadium in Marabella, and the Larry Gomes Stadium in Arima, are both set to be contested at 4:00pm Trinidad and Tobago time. Both games will assist Angus Eve and his Soca Warriors in gauging their readiness for the upcoming Copa America qualifying encounter against Canada, scheduled for March 23.

They will also assist Heimir Hallgrimsson, and his Reggae Boyz, who are also in preparation mode for their Concacaf Nations League (CNL) semi-final engagement with United States set for March 21.

Trinidad and Tobago and Jamaica met three times last year, twice in friendly matches in Montego Bay, and those were followed by their Concacaf Gold Cup clash in June. The Soca Warriors won the second friendly 1-0, after the first match ended goalless.

However, Jamaica came away comfortable 4-1 winners in the Gold Cup group stage meeting.

Jamaica were also responsible for sending Canada into the Copa America playoff match, by virtue of the away goal rule, after they rallied to secure a 4-4 aggregate scoreline in the Concacaf Nations League quarterfinal in November.

Like Canada, Eve's Soca Warriors also missed out on an automatic place at the 2024 Copa America, as they lost 2-4 on aggregate to United States, despite winning the second leg 2-1 in Port of Spain.

Since then, Eve has backed his team to remain competitive and, by extension, build on that momentum from the win against United States.

“Like the US team, the Canada team is built up the same, (with) a lot of European-based players. Some of the players (are) playing in the MLS (Major League Soccer), some playing back home, but most of the players are playing in Europe and they are playing with good teams,” Eve assessed in a recent interview.

“But we think we can go in there; we think we can compete with anyone right now and we want to show that. We want to show that confidence that we could go out on the park and compete with anyone,” he added.

Eve believes that with the right application, the team will compete strongly against Canada, as well as in the Concacaf World Cup qualifiers, which promises to be both demanding and exciting.

“We just have to be tactically aware. A coach can only give instructions. When the players go out there, they have to have the mindset to play the position, to play the role that the coaches give them to the best of their ability because, a coach could never tell a player what to do for every second of every minute of a game,” he reasoned.

"We will use those games (against Jamaica) as the final two warm-up games going into the CONMEBOL playoff match and when that happens, then we will pick that final squad,” Eve declared.

The winner of the playoff between Trinidad and Tobago and Canada, will join Jamaica, United States, Mexico, Panama and either Costa Rica or Honduras, as the Concacaf representatives at the prestigious Copa America, which will be hosted in the United States from June 20 to July 14.

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