Mauricio Pochettino said club bosses must be “clever” enough to ignore abuse directed at footballers and managers via social media after Reece James revealed that he had been targeted online after undergoing surgery.

The Chelsea captain wrote on his Instagram account on Thursday that he had received “significantly more hate and negativity” since sustaining the hamstring injury that forced him off during the team’s 2-0 defeat to Everton.

It is the second significant injury the 24-year-old has suffered this season, having also missed a large part of the last campaign, with Pochettino indicating a lay-off of “several weeks” possibly stretching to months.

Former Chelsea manager Graham Potter last season gave an alarming account of the abuse directed at him whilst he was in charge, which included emailed threats made against his family.

And Pochettino said that he too had been targeted, albeit to a lesser extent, after matches this season.

The Argentinian, who takes his team to Molineux to face Wolves on Christmas Eve, said: “We are really exposed. Today it’s so easy to try to damage people.

“It’s so easy to write things. It’s very fashionable to speak badly.

“What makes me sad is not the social media, the people that have access to write this negativity. What makes me sad is that the people that are involved in this business pay attention.

“No one is going to damage me. Maybe (club colleagues) can damage me with words. When I have appreciation and respect for someone and they say something, of course it makes me think.

“But if I go on social media and someone abuses me? I don’t care. It’s not going to change my mood or my way to see things. When we lose games I receive abuse on social media, I receive SMS (messages), WhatsApps, emails that I never open. Not too many. A few.

“It makes me sad for the people that are involved.

“If I am a coach, am I going to make a decision (based on) what the people think about this? If there is an owner that follows social media and says ‘that changed my view’, I say ‘come on’.

“People that manage this business need to be clever, and to be clever means to trust in the people that you have. I need to trust in my owner, I need to trust in my sporting director.”

Chelsea are seeking a third consecutive win in all competitions for only the second time since March when they take on Gary O’Neil’s side, having defeated Sheffield United in their last Premier League outing and edged past Newcastle on penalties to set up a Carabao Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough.

After Tuesday’s cup win, substitutes and unused players joined the celebrations – a sign, thinks Pochettino, that his young side are maturing.

“It’s about giving them the possibility to take decisions and be treated like men,” he said. “They are mature enough.

“You provide the capacity for them to decide if they want to be or not. Whoever doesn’t want to be here is open to (leave). It is about creating a natural environment where everyone is going to be strong.

“If you want to belong to the group, you have the opportunity.”

Armando Broja believes Chelsea dramatic penalty shoot-out win over Newcastle in the Carabao Cup shows the strong bond the new-look team are building.

Broja revealed he was set to be Chelsea’s fifth penalty taker, but he was not called upon as Djordje Petrovic’s save from Matt Ritchie’s spot-kick sent Mauricio Pochettino’s men into the semi-finals.

Mykhailo Mudryk capitalised on Kieran Trippier’s mistake to equalise for the Blues in added time, cancelling out Callum Wilson’s opener, before the hosts held their nerve in the shoot-out.

Striker Broja said: “I was (going to take the fifth penalty) and I was quite excited actually.

“But Petrovic put on an unbelievable display, so it didn’t quite get to me.”

Tenth-placed Chelsea head to Wolves in the Premier League on Christmas Eve, with Tuesday night’s win offering a welcome boost after a difficult first half of the season under Pochettino.

And Albanian international Broja feels the manner of the victory is evidence of the character of the side.

“Games like this show our spirit and the bond where we dug deep,” he said.

“We got the equaliser even though it was in the 92nd minute and we got to penalties.

“We’re a new team, with a new manager and everyone’s trying to gel together.

“It’s not going to be easy straightaway because we have a whole bunch of new players, so we need to get that rhythm and get that bond together. It’s not going to happen overnight and people need to understand that.

“We keep playing for the badge.”

Victory in the Carabao Cup would give Chelsea their first piece of silverware since they lifted the Club World Cup in February last year.

Broja added: “This is a chance for us to win and trophy and we want to win a trophy, that’s what this trophy is all about.”

Mauricio Pochettino said Chelsea are a “healthy group” after watching them edge beyond Newcastle on penalties at Stamford Bridge to book a place in the Carabao Cup semi-final.

Newcastle looked to have done enough to progress after holding Chelsea at arm’s length for much of the game following Callum’s Wilson’s first-half strike.

Then at the death, Mykhailo Mudryk appeared inside the box to nick the ball away from Kieran Trippier, clipping a finish inside the far post to rescue Pochettino’s side.

Chelsea were on target with all four spot-kicks as Trippier again was culpable for Newcastle, failing to hit the target before Matt Ritchie saw his effort saved by goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic.

Earlier, Wilson had given Newcastle a deserved lead, taking advantage of a calamitous mix-up between Thiago Silva and Benoit Badiashile and racing clear to score on the counter.

“To concede the way we conceded, when we didn’t deserve to, it can affect any team,” said the manager.

“But we reacted really well, dominated the game against a good team like Newcastle, kept pushing in the second half, made some changes and tried to provide the team some impact.

“The most important (thing) in football is to believe to the end. We kept believing. We know penalties are a lottery, but of course talent and quality (matter). Our objective before the game was to go through and now we’re in the semi-final.

“When you see the whole squad, players that weren’t involved or were injured, they wanted to share their happiness in the middle of the pitch. We’re a healthy group of players, but they need time. We create the platform for them to improve every day. We’re going to build a very good team that can compete.”

Pochettino gave a long-awaited debut from the bench to summer signing Christopher Nkunku after injury with 20 minutes to go, in place of the willing but largely ineffective Nicolas Jackson.

The manager reiterated the need not to lump too much expectation too soon on the 26-year-old’s shoulders after a lengthy spell out.

“We’re talking about players that are young, or who have arrived and suffered an injury, like Christopher,” he said. “They need game time to start to perform and to get their best form. Everyone can judge.

“The expectation is to see the best of Nkunku, but we need time for him to perform the way we expect. It’s one thing to be available, it’s another to perform in the way we expect.”

Pochettino confirmed Enzo Fernandez had been withdrawn in the first half suffering from stomach sickness while Levi Colwill, taken off at the break, was tired but not injured.

Newcastle boss Eddie Howe reflected on a missed opportunity for his team to reach the Carabao Cup last four for the second straight season.

“A tough ending to the game,” he said. “It was a really good away performance until the last moments. I didn’t see a goal coming at that stage.

“It’s just one of those things that can happen in a football match. We covered space well, limited them to half-chances. There are a lot of positives to take but we don’t feel that right now.”

What the papers say

Crystal Palace are interested in a move for Chelsea defender Trevoh Chalobah this January, with the 24-year-old yet to play under Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino, the Daily Express reports. There is also reportedly interest from Serie A teams and Bayern Munich.

The Daily Mail reports Manchester United are willing to sell Jadon Sancho, Raphael Varane, Anthony Martial and Casemiro after their director of football John Murtough spent time in Saudi Arabia this month.

However, the Manchester Evening News says Varane is hoping that the club will trigger their one-year contract extension option for him.

Wolves are reportedly looking to sign Nigerian striker Rafiu Durosinmi from Viktoria Plzen for around £7million, despite reportedly being set to report losses of £65million.

Social media round-upPlayers to watch

Ian Maatsen: Chelsea are reportedly willing to sell the 21-year-old Dutch defender in January, with Manchester City, West Ham, Roma and Napoli among clubs interested in him, 90min says.

Clement Lenglet: The Aston Villa defender’s loan deal from Barcelona could be terminated by the Spanish club as they look to sell the 28-year-old, Football Insider reports.

Mauricio Pochettino praised Chelsea’s response to back-to-back Premier League defeats as they recovered to beat Sheffield United 2-0 at Stamford Bridge.

The hosts fought back from a dour first-half showing – and off the back of losses to Manchester United and Everton – to hit two quick-fire goals in the second period through Nicolas Jackson and the influential Cole Palmer.

The first was well worked between Palmer and Raheem Sterling, the summer signing from Manchester City working the ball wide and continuing his run into the box to tap home Sterling’s low cross.

And Palmer was the architect minutes later as Jackson made it two, lifting the ball into the box for Sterling and Conor Gallagher to attack, and as it was spilled by Blades goalkeeper Wes Foderingham, Palmer was there to knock it back to Jackson for 2-0.

It had been a maddening first half for home supporters to endure, with a single effort on target to show from their side despite racking up 80 per cent possession against the league’s bottom club.

It took Palmer’s intervention after 54 minutes, playing a clever ball to Sterling who shot past his man with a burst of acceleration, starting and finishing the move that finally broke the Blades down after a turgid opening.

His creative involvement for the second was a further reminder of the 21-year-old’s capacity to turn a game single-handedly as yet another scoreless outing loomed for Pochettino’s side.

Afterwards the manager pointed to a change of position in the second half – swapping with Sterling to take up a more central role – as the key.

“I think we talked a lot during the week after Everton about needing drastic change,” said Pochettino. “It was important to confirm that we are in a good way. The team in the first half was frustrated because we couldn’t find a way past the low block of Sheffield United.

“We didn’t show the capacity to be flexible and it was easy for them to identify our position and to block us and make us put the ball in positions that were easy for them to stop.

“The second half we were much better, we fixed things. The team started to find better possibilities to play, to link much better. Cole from the right, going into the space, started to link better with team-mates and be the player that we want to use – a playmaker.”

Pochettino left midfielder Enzo Fernandez on the bench, with Gallagher instead taking up a position in central midfield alongside Moises Caicedo.

The manager confirmed the World Cup-winner is likely to return for Tuesday’s Carabao Cup quarter-final at home to Newcastle.

“You only can play 11,” he said. “It’s a big competition, sometimes you need one profile or another and you choose the players. The combination between Caicedo and Gallagher, using Cole like a number 10, that was the possibility for the best combination for today.

“I’m happy because three points are important and Tuesday we have an important game against Newcastle. To arrive in that game with a good feeling is really important, to have the confidence that we can go through.”

Blades boss Chris Wilder reflected on a game in which his players gave travelling supporters much to be proud of.

“I don’t like when one player goes off to clap supporters on their own, if we’re going to do it we go together,” he said.

“That’s important to me and it was important that they quickly got that message because for a big period, we were in the game and we were fighting our way against an outstanding manager and some top individuals.”

Mauricio Pochettino insists he is “not crazy” for believing in Chelsea’s chances of success despite a growing injury crisis ahead of Saturday’s meeting with Sheffield United.

Chelsea have seen defenders Marc Cucurella and Reece James and goalkeeper Robert Sanchez all join Pochettino’s list of sidelined talent this week.

Pochettino revealed James, who was forced off in Sunday’s 2-0 loss to Everton, is feeling “down” as a result of his latest hamstring problem after already sitting out a lengthy spell of the season with a similar issue, while Sanchez is likely to be absent for at least a few weeks after sustaining a knee problem.

The Blues boss, who looks set to hand goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic his first start and a potential debut to Christopher Nkunku for 12th-placed Chelsea, remained full of enthusiasm for his overall ambitions at Stamford Bridge, maintaining he still considers it an “amazing” opportunity.

Pochettino said: “I think it’s so exciting, this project. We knew that it was going to be difficult and yet it’s more difficult because of the circumstance. You always expect to have unexpected circumstances, but not a lot. We are suffering after five, six months.

“But that is a challenge and it can be a very good thing for us. We are never going to give up and we are going to fight. I think the situation will make us be smarter, cleverer, evolve the coaching staff.

“I think the challenge is massive, but I really believe that we can succeed. It’s only a matter of time, but sometimes it’s a lot to be patient and believe in the way that we are doing.

“The thing, of course, that is the most difficult thing in football is to keep believing when you don’t get the results that you want. For me, [time] is not a problem. We will succeed. For sure, you will see.

“Maybe today you can say ‘this guy is crazy’, but I am not crazy. I know what I am doing.”

The prospect of summer signing Nkunku’s debut was a much-needed boost, but Pochettino warned that Chelsea nonetheless “need to be calm and quiet, not to put all the pressure on him”.

He also insisted the club “have the confidence” in Petrovic to step up in Sanchez’s absence despite the goalkeeper having played just six Premier League minutes.

Meanwhile, the Argentinian boss vowed the club would do all they can for their injury-plagued skipper, whose previous hamstring issue forced him out of action for nine matches to start the season.

Pochettino added: “We need to go in depth in the situation. He is a little bit down because he was very excited to come back and I think his coming back was perfect because it was step-by-step.

“It was a perfect way to build his confidence and be in full recovery. That [injury] for him is difficult to accept. He’s very disappointed, he’s frustrated. Now we need to be careful in the way that we are going to talk, but to also assess and try to find the best solution for him to be consistent.

“We are going to support him and to try to help and of course we are all thinking about trying to find the best solution to be with the group as soon as possible, make a full recovery and then try for that not to happen again.”

Chelsea have confirmed skipper Reece James sustained a hamstring injury in Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Everton.

The England right-back was one of three players who went off injured for the visitors during the Premier League contest at Goodison Park, along with goalkeeper Robert Sanchez and left-back Marc Cucurella.

A statement on Chelsea’s official website on Tuesday said: “Captain Reece James has undergone medical assessment following Sunday’s 2-0 defeat at Everton.

“The defender was withdrawn during the first half at Goodison Park and scan results have confirmed a hamstring injury. Reece will now begin his rehabilitation programme at Cobham.”

Speaking after Sunday’s match – about his disappointment at losing the 24-year-old to injury – Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino emphasised James’ importance, describing him as “one of the best full-backs in the world”.

Pochettino also said Sanchez had departed due to a knee issue, and Cucurella because of a twisted ankle.

Those problems add to an already-lengthy injury list for the west London club, who are 12th in the table.

Mauricio Pochettino admits midfield duo Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo need to improve after Chelsea’s poor start to the Premier League campaign.

The Blues’ recent 2-1 defeat at Manchester United kept them in 10th place, five points behind West Ham in ninth.

And Pochettino believes big-money signings Fernandez and Caicedo need to up their levels but acknowledged the two 22-year-olds’ development is a “process”.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s Premier League clash with Everton on Sunday, he said: “The relationship between them needs to improve of course, between them and individually also.

“They are young, the expectation is massive when you arrive.

“Caicedo had one season in Brighton and Enzo after three months in Europe, he was in Benfica before arriving to the Premier League. Arriving not in the best place to perform quick because they need to be part of the solution.

“They are not the cherry of the cake. When you arrive in a team that is in a building process and you’re young with not too much experience, even if you have good quality and people can see the club paid big money and only for that you need to perform, it is not like this in football.

“Some people think in this way because they don’t know about football. It’s a process.

“It’s going to be a process for different reasons. Chelsea are in a completely different reality in the last years and we need to attack this. We can’t live only thinking in the past.

“We need to keep the culture and understand we are in Chelsea and always it’s about winning, but the reality is completely different.”

Sunday’s opponents Everton are on a high after Wednesday’s 3-0 victory over Newcastle at Goodison Park.

And Pochettino identified Everton’s physical presence from set-pieces and called for his Chelsea players to play more cleverly.

He added: “It can be a problem, yes. But we need to be more aggressive and try to avoid conceding chances like corners or wide free-kicks.

“We need to be clever in the way we are going to work and try to stop them.

“Yes, it can be a problem but maybe no. In football, it’s the way you approach the game, the attitude and then being clever, trying to avoid giving the possibility to the opponents to use their strengths.”

Pochettino highlighted the challenges of keeping his players motivated after their inconsistent start to the campaign.

He said: “When you win it is easy, you jump to train.

“But when you have ups and downs it is really difficult to keep your balance because to translate the capacity to a player to keep pushing and assimilate and to keep the good mood around the training ground is the most difficult thing.

“Because the frustration, disappointment, sometimes in the way we concede, you become upset, angry. “

Erik ten Hag dismissed any talk of Manchester United’s season being in crisis as he stressed “we are going in the right direction” following the 2-1 win over Chelsea.

United went into the contest at Old Trafford on the back of Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Newcastle, their 10th defeat in all competitions this term.

After Bruno Fernandes saw an early penalty saved by Robert Sanchez, a Scott McTominay brace, either side of Cole Palmer’s equaliser, secured United a victory that took them up to sixth in the Premier League table, three points behind fourth-placed defending champions Manchester City.

When asked at his post-match press conference what that said to him about a season that has felt like it has been in crisis, United boss Ten Hag said: “Crisis? Not for us.

“We keep calm, look at the process where we know where we have to build. We are going in the right direction.

“We don’t get distracted (by) criticism around us, but we are very critical on ourselves. We are not quickly satisfied and happy, we always want to do better. We have to improve a lot if we want to be successful – but this team is capable of being successful.”

There had been some reports ahead of the game that Ten Hag had lost the confidence of some of his players.

That led to United banning four media outlets for Tuesday’s pre-match press conference, with the club saying the action was taken for not “contacting us first to give us the opportunity to comment, challenge or contextualise.”

Ten Hag added: “Last week we played three games (a 3-0 win at Everton, 3-3 draw at Galatasaray and the Newcastle match). Two times we played good, and then one bad performance.

“But you see this team is in a good direction. I know sometimes you have a bad performance, but then still, you can get a result. That is the next step we have to make.

“But you see how we play, the style, so dominating the opponent, in and out of possession. That is the way I want to play. I was very pleased, it was very enjoyable how the team played.”

Mauricio Pochettino puts Chelsea’s ill-discipline down to the close-season change of rules with the Blues leading the Premier League for yellow cards this season.

Chelsea have amassed 47 yellow and three red cards, following the dismissal of Malo Gusto against Aston Villa in September and both Reece James and Conor Gallagher being sent off in their last two games.

Pochettino highlighted how the FA’s new rules in targeting petulance such as kicking the ball away or dissent is the reason behind his team’s poor record.

Speaking ahead of Chelsea’s clash with Manchester United on Wednesday, Pochettino said: “Today we were talking in the meeting and we showed the clips of the yellow cards. There are too many because they changed the rules this season.

“We touch and we put the ball from here to there, and that is a tic that we need to change.

“We were talking about Nicolas Jackson, the yellow card because of complaining to the referee. The opponent made a foul and didn’t receive a yellow card.

“But you complain about ‘why is that not a yellow card?’ And it’s ‘Oh, yellow card for you’. We receive like this.

“It’s difficult to understand this rule but now the referees want to apply it.”

Jackson’s seven bookings are the most in the league and that tally saw him sit out of the Blues’ 2-0 win over west London rivals Fulham in October.

Pochettino called for his players to be cleverer if they are to avoid picking up similar suspensions.

He added: “We need to be clever and improve in this area. We cannot be silly to repeat, repeat, repeat the same mistakes.

“When we play football, always if you made a foul, if the opponent came to take the ball quick, boom, you touch. Even when you play football with your friends, that happens. It’s difficult to change.”

The last time Pochettino faced Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag was when he was in charge of Spurs during their dramatic 3-2 Champions League semi-final victory over the Dutchman’s Ajax in 2019.

And the Chelsea manager noted that the match would have been painful for Ten Hag while it was one of his “best nights in football”.

He said: “Of course it was really painful, the situation, but sometimes when you are a coach there are things you cannot control. This is the beauty of football.

“He wasn’t on the pitch. People make you responsible of course. But you cannot change anything from outside. It was difficult.

“One of my best nights in football. For sure it was tough for him. But we all move on.

“For sure he has moved on and he is at a great club now. It’s going to be nice to meet him.”

Erik ten Hag told doubters to look at his record as the under-fire boss spoke with conviction about being the right man to help stumbling Manchester United fulfil their ambitions.

Having won the Carabao Cup, reached the FA Cup final and finished third in the Premier League during a promising first season in charge, things have gone awry during his second campaign.

Saturday evening’s lifeless 1-0 loss at Newcastle was their 10th defeat in just 21 matches in all competitions, leading criticism, scrutiny and pressure to mount on manager Ten Hag.

Reports emerged that the Dutchman had lost the confidence of some players, with concerns over style and tactics mentioned in stories that led to four media outlets being banned from Tuesday’s press conference.

United were furious not to have been given a right to reply to the reports that Ten Hag dismissed as he came out fighting and preaching about togetherness before hosting Chelsea.

“There will be always tough times in every journey,” the United manager said. “We are in the right direction.

“I know we will get there where we want to be. Because – see my record.

“Everywhere where I was, every season, I got my targets, so if we stick together, stick to the plan and the strategy, we will get where we want to be.”

Ten Hag managed Go Ahead Eagles, Bayern Munich II and Utrecht before flourishing at Ajax and earning his move to Manchester.

The 53-year-old won three league titles during his time in charge of the Dutch giants, who he led to the Champions League semi-finals in 2019.

Tottenham ended that unforgettable run and Ten Hag comes up against Mauricio Pochettino for the first time since then, and beating him to the United job, when Chelsea visit.

Asked ahead of Wednesday’s Old Trafford clash what the realistic timeframe is for getting United where they want to go, Ten Hag said: “First of all, I can’t say in this club we are waiting for two, three years.

“This club the aim is, the demand is and the standards should be that you win every game, so we go in every game with the aim.

“I demand of my team, my players to win every game. Doesn’t matter who the opponent is, and I will stick to that. That brought us last year very far.

“We were third in the league, in the FA Cup final – we could even have won this – and we won the Carabao Cup.

“That mentality I don’t want to change this because that will be a drop-off in culture.

“That means, yeah, there is a high standard on me, and me together with the team, so it’s also high standards on the players, and I don’t make compromises on that.”

United’s mentality has been in question as much as the group’s unity this term, yet Ten Hag believes he has the players’ full backing heading into a frantic festive period.

“Oh yeah, I never had the idea they don’t (back me) because I know they would have dropped me against Fulham or Burnley if it was the other situation,” the Red Devils boss said.

“If the situation was not right, if the environment was not right, and that’s not the case.”

It was an eye-catching comment from Ten Hag as he referred to crunch 1-0 wins at Burnley and Fulham that both came after a different chastening spells for the side.

United now need to avoid an 11th loss as the Blues visit on Wednesday as the manager looks to raise levels and “build on the foundations”.

“Of course negativity is never good,” Ten Hag added. “You have to take care it never kills the energy.

“But I don’t care because I know, and all the players know, we are the biggest club in the world, or one of the biggest clubs, then you know you get a lot of attention.

“You know then in the moment results are not going in your way and you’re not performing how you should, there’s coming criticism and you have to deal with that.

“We are together in that. There’s no way that you are alone there. You are together in that boat. We know that, so we will deal with it in togetherness.”

Mauricio Pochettino spoke of his pride after watching Chelsea cling on with 10 men to earn a battling 3-2 win against Brighton at Stamford Bridge.

Captain Conor Gallagher was sent off late in the first half with the hosts leading 2-1, leaving them facing an uphill battle to hold off a fightback from Roberto De Zerbi’s side.

Chelsea had looked to be heading in at half-time two goals to the good, Enzo Fernandez and Levi Colwill each heading in their first Premier League goals three minutes apart to open up a commanding lead but Brighton halved the deficit through Facundo Buonanotte before Gallagher was shown a second yellow card.

The visitors’ fightback was curtailed midway through the second half when Mykhailo Mudryk, in for Cole Palmer who had picked up a knock in training, raced through on goal and drew a foul from James Milner, a penalty awarded following a pitchside review and a second goal for Fernandez clipped home from 12 yards.

Brighton battled gamely against a determined Chelsea rearguard and a goal headed in by substitute Joao Pedro breathed life into the contest at the start of 10 minutes of stoppage time.

Then in the final seconds, referee Craig Pawson was called pitchside again to adjudicate on a possible handball inside the box against Colwill. This time the call was no penalty, and Chelsea saw out the win to banish memories of last weekend’s 4-1 defeat by Newcastle.

“It wasn’t a sending off,” said Pochettino. “That is my opinion. Maybe I am wrong. This type of period where you are building something, it always happens. We are a young team. I want to clarify – not we are young players, we are a young team.

“We need to improve, we need to learn. The Premier League is the best in the world. We have too many players that need to feel what it means to play in the Premier League. We were a little bit more aggressive after Newcastle where we didn’t show our real face.

“We wanted to play well, to be aggressive and show we care. I think the team was really good, I feel proud. After Newcastle it was tough, and a team like Brighton is always difficult to play.

“I am so proud of the players and the character that they showed. I told them at half-time, ‘it’s 2-1 to us, it’s a great opportunity for us – now we need to show that we are a team’.”

The win was the first in six attempts that Chelsea have managed against Brighton in the league, and was notable for a standout performance from Mudryk who has looked increasingly at home in west London this season after a difficult first six months.

Pochettino reiterated the need for young players like the Ukrainian to feel settled before they can be expected to produce on the pitch.

“It’s not only about building the way that you want to play, your philosophy on the pitch,” he said. “Before that, you need to belong to the team, you need to belong to the club, to settle yourself.

“You need to grow, need to get experience. Too many things before you can talk about playing from the back, or play with three or four offensive players, or with three or five at the back. That comes in after.”

Brighton boss De Zerbi reflected on a game he felt his team did not deserve to lose.

“It’s hard because I think we played much better than Chelsea,” he said. “We made three big mistakes, two set-pieces in the first half and we conceded the third goal in an incredible way.

“It was a clear penalty for them, but we can’t concede a counter-attack in that way (from) a corner for us. In that way we are young, but we need to be more focused in that situation and at set-pieces.”

Mauricio Pochettino likened his role at Chelsea to that of a university professor as he seeks to install a more robust mentality in an inexperienced squad.

The team suffered a second-half collapse to go down 4-1 at injury-hit Newcastle last weekend, bringing an abrupt end to their recent run of impressive results.

With an average age of just over 23, Chelsea have the youngest squad in this season’s Premier League, though expectation has been driven sky-high by co-owner Todd Boehly spending more than £1billion during the last 18 months.

That investment had looked finally to be paying dividends after recent results which included a 4-1 victory away at previously unbeaten Tottenham and thrilling home draws against last season’s top two, Arsenal and Manchester City.

But at St. James’ Park they were routed by Eddie Howe’s side, losing captain Reece James to a second-half red card as the hosts scored three times in 23 minutes to inflict a second loss in seven games.

Ahead of Sunday’s meeting with Brighton at Stamford Bridge, Pochettino emphasised his role as mentor in helping his players come of age.

“You need to approach like you’re a professor of a university,” he said. “Sometimes you need to accept it’s not bad intention (from the players).

“Sometime they can’t perform because they didn’t understand our message, so we have to analyse ourselves to explain in a different way.

“They need to learn. On the pitch they need to make decisions for themselves. It’s a process.

“Of course I trust in the club, the players, the squad. It’s only a matter of time.”

The Newcastle loss was marked by an uncharacteristically poor performance from veteran defender Thiago Silva, whose costly error allowed Joelinton to make it 3-1 and effectively kill the game.

Pochettino defended the 39-year-old and insisted on the importance to a young squad of a player with almost 900 professional appearances for club and country.

“The more experienced players can deal better with pressure and with mistakes,” he said. “With (Silva’s) experience, he can deal with mistakes.

“That’s a help because it’s one player less to manage, we can focus more on the younger players. That’s how he’s helping us.”

Pochettino added that the week since the defeat on Tyneside has been spent analysing why the team capitulated so readily in the face of Newcastle’s pressure.

“It’s like when you go to the doctor because you have some pain in your body,” he said. “First of all, the doctor needs to do some analysis, then to detect the problem, then to give the solution, the medicine.

“It’s the same. It’s to identify why that happened. Then you attack the problem with a solution.

“It’s a young team that needs to be more mature and consistent. These ups and downs can happen. But now we need to realise why it happens in a young team, we need to emphasise different areas, to anticipate these type of situations in future.”

Mauricio Pochettino admitted Moises Caicedo’s international commitments with Ecuador have complicated the midfielder’s early Chelsea career.

The club paid a British record £115million to sign the 22-year-old from Brighton in August but frequent trips to South America to play for his country have limited the time he has been able to spend working with coaching staff at Cobham.

He has played 14 times in all competitions since his arrival, recovering from a red card on his first appearance against West Ham to become a steady if not yet spectacular performer in the heart of midfield.

Since joining Chelsea he has been called up three times by Ecuador and played in six matches, with each international window requiring a more than 11,000-mile round trip, sometimes not arriving back in London until the early hours of the day before Chelsea’s next game.

He revealed in an interview with the club’s website this week that he spent much of his first 10 days in England alone in a hotel room in tears and suffering from homesickness, after joining the Seagulls from Independiente del Valle in his home country in January 2021 during the Covid pandemic.

Restrictions on movement for people arriving into the UK meant he was unable to meet his Brighton team-mates until completing a period of quarantine, during which he phoned his parents in Ecuador asking to return home.

He recovered to become one of the standout successes of the team that Roberto De Zerbi led to a club-best sixth-placed Premier League finish last campaign, sparking a bidding war between Liverpool and Chelsea in which Pochettino’s side were victorious.

The manager reiterated a call for patience as Caicedo navigates life at Chelsea amid a hectic World Cup qualifying schedule internationally.

“When we signed him we knew what is going to happen,” said Pochettino. “He’s an emotional guy, an emotional player that needs time to recover.

“It didn’t help also the international games, travelling to Ecuador, to South America. That is really tough every single month, two or three weeks then go 10, 12 days away, then come back sometimes with some injury.

“It’s not an excuse but it’s the reality. Now we need time. Of course I say (the team) always need to perform. That is our mentality. But in some situations like his, we need to give time and not to be unfair in the way that we assess him.”

Caicedo has formed a reliable partnership in midfield with Enzo Fernandez, who the club paid a then-British record £107m to sign from Benfica in January while Graham Potter was in charge.

Pochettino revealed that the Argentinian World Cup winner asked for extra time off during the summer due to fatigue and was granted permission to join up late with the squad on their United States tour.

“It’s different because Enzo arrived last January, he was with different coaches here,” said the manager. “He asked when we arrived for a period of holiday because he was tired after the World Cup and everything. He joined us in North Carolina.

“I cannot judge the past. Only I can talk from when we arrived (at Chelsea). We expect all, not only (these two), all the players, even the ones not too much involved, to push their level.”

Mauricio Pochettino was “angry and disappointed” after watching Chelsea fall apart in their 4-1 Premier League defeat at Newcastle.

The Argentinian was left furious by his side’s second-half capitulation at St James’ Park, which saw full-back Reece James sent off to erase the memories of their creditable displays against Tottenham and Manchester City before the international break.

Pochettino, who watched the game from the directors’ box as he served a touchline ban, said: “We didn’t prepare ourselves in the best way to compete today, that is my concern.

“We thought that we were ready to compete today, but we didn’t in the way that the competition demands.

“Even if Newcastle weren’t great, it was an easy win to prepare for the Champions League today. We had to come here, Chelsea, to show that it’s going to be difficult for them to play, to win the game and to beat us.

“But it was really easy in the way that we conceded and the way that we were so soft in every single challenge. We didn’t show that we were playing for something important.

“That’s what makes me angry and disappointed. We talk about that we are a young team and we have to learn, but I think these type of games make me very, very, very, very, very angry because it’s about showing your personality and character.

“Okay, we are young as a team, but we cannot lose this type of opportunity to show our best.”

Newcastle had 13 players missing after midfielder Joe Willock had been added to the casualty list with a recurrence of an Achilles injury.

But the hosts took a 13th-minute lead when Alexander Isak, back after a month out, span on 17-year-old Lewis Miley’s astute pass and fired past Robert Sanchez.

The visitors levelled before the break courtesy of Raheem Sterling’s sweetly-struck free-kick, only to succumb to goals from Lascelles and Joelinton within three second-half minutes and a fourth from Anthony Gordon after James had picked up a second booking.

Magpies head coach Eddie Howe, who now faces the tasking of preparing his injury-ravaged side for Tuesday night’s Champions League trip to Paris St Germain, was delighted with the resilience his players showed in adversity.

Howe said: “It’s such an important win for us with the position we’re in, the stretched resources that we have.

“To be able to come together and give a performance like that speaks volumes for the character of the players we have, the leaders we have in the group and our ability to just focus on the present, on what’s happening right now.

“You look at the players who were missing and that was a giant performance from the players we have fit.”

However, Howe’s enjoyment was tempered by Willock’s misfortune with the player and his club awaiting a prognosis.

He said: “It looks like a recurrence of an Achilles injury that he had a few weeks ago. It’s a massive blow for us.

“We don’t know how long he’s going to be out, we’re going to have to seek specialist advice, but it’s a huge blow for us.”

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