Pep Guardiola admitted it was “unacceptable” that Manchester City’s 1-0 FA Cup semi-final win over Chelsea was scheduled for less than 72 hours after their Champions League defeat to Real Madrid.

City recovered from their European exit on Wednesday night – when they played extra-time against Real before losing on penalties – to edge past Mauricio Pochettino’s side, thanks to a goal in the 84th minute from Bernardo Silva, but they were clearly fatigued at Wembley.

Chelsea had more than enough chances to settle the semi-final in their favour but, as was the case on their last visit here against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final, wasteful finishing was their downfall, with Nicolas Jackson the primary culprit.

Yet despite seeing his side reach their third FA Cup final in six seasons, Guardiola’s thoughts were dominated by what he considered to be poor scheduling of the match by the Football Association.

“I don’t understand how we survived today,” he said. “People cannot imagine what a punch in the face to be out of the Champions League in the way we are out.

“Why not give us one more day to arrive on Sunday because Coventry and (Manchester) United didn’t play in midweek? For broadcasters?

“OK. Don’t ask me after to do extra (media duties) because we won’t do it. It’s unacceptable to play today.

“What (the players) have done today is one of the greatest things I have seen from a group of players – 120 minutes against Real, you can prepare absolutely nothing.

“Four hours to arrive here and play the game in these conditions. I don’t understand how we survived.”

Three times 22-year-old Jackson had gilt-edged chances to put his team through to the final but each time he was foiled, most glaringly when he headed straight at goalkeeper Stefan Ortega from close range midway through the second half.

Unable to capitalise on their openings, Chelsea tired as the game wore into its final 10 minutes and they were hit with the winning goal for City, six minutes from time.

Jeremy Doku slipped a pass through for Kevin De Bruyne bursting forward down the left of the penalty area and – after running it to the byline – he pulled the ball back centrally.

Djordje Petrovic got a foot to it but could not prevent it from reaching Silva, whose first-time effort at the back post pinged off Marc Cucurella as he dived in to block and span beyond the goalkeeper to win it.

City will play either Manchester United or Coventry in the final on May 25 as they look to retain the trophy they won last season.

Guardiola was pessimistic about the demands made on his players by an increasingly-congested schedule being lessened in the future and criticised what he considered an inflexible approach from competition organisers.

“In this country, they don’t change anything,” he said. “If I pretend it will change next season, it won’t happen. But don’t ask me to make meetings. I’m busy. I have to prepare games every three days.

“It’s unsustainable. We have to perform for the fans, for the prestige of the club. How? I just want to protect my players.

“I don’t have to run. I do this for the players. It is unacceptable.”

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino reflected on a game that, despite their chances, he felt his side had not done enough to win.

“The most important thing is to be clinical and not concede,” he said. “Even if today we competed well, I cannot say we were the better side.”

Mauricio Pochettino believes Cole Palmer will go into Chelsea’s FA Cup semi-final with Manchester City on Saturday with nothing to prove to his former employers, insisting he is the right manager to help the 21-year-old continue his stunning ascendancy.

Palmer, who left Chelsea’s Wembley opponents in a £42.5million deal in the summer, is joint top scorer in the Premier League after his four goals in Monday’s 6-0 demolition of Everton moved him level with City’s Erling Haaland on 20 for the season.

He has netted an incredible seven times in the team’s last two home games, including a hat-trick in the breathless 4-3 win over Manchester United when two of his goals came in the 10th and 11th minutes of stoppage time.

He previously scored from the penalty spot in the fifth minute of added time to snatch a point in a 4-4 draw when City visited west London in November.

Palmer has previously stated his decision to leave the champions – for whom he scored twice in August in the Community Shield and UEFA Super Cup – was based on the belief he would get more first-team game time at Chelsea.

That decision has been thoroughly vindicated, with his performances for Mauricio Pochettino’s frustratingly inconsistent side placing him in the reckoning for the PFA Player of the Year award.

His odds on winning the award have been slashed by as much as half with some bookmakers since his Everton haul.

But his manager said there was no possibility the England international would face City with an axe to grind.

“It’s his first consistent season playing, we need to be careful because he’s still young, he’s growing,” said Pochettino.

“He’s already played twice (against City) in the Premier League. He’s very grateful for Manchester City, with Pep Guardiola. He always talks very highly of them.

“He’s not the type of player that has something inside (to prove). He understood perfectly that for different reasons he wanted to prove himself in another club.

“He’s not the type of person to wants to prove something against his former club.”

Prior to joining Chelsea, Palmer had played only 19 senior league games spread over three seasons, and had not scored in the Premier League.

Yet he is now a genuine contender to deprive his former team-mate Haaland of the Golden Boot won by the Norwegian last season.

There is also the growing prospect of his being selected in Gareth Southgate’s squad for Euro 2024 in Germany this summer.

“He has to absorb the pressure to play in the Premier League consistently,” said Pochettino, who previously enjoyed success at Tottenham stewarding young talents though their early years, including England captain Harry Kane.

“It’s about the demands in his private life. He is top scorer. He maybe needs to pay attention to different things than before. That’s going to have an influence on how he is going to prepare himself, how he’s going to rest and going to sleep, how he spends his energy.

“We need to be careful. We have the experience to manage this type of thing, when a young kid becomes a big star. Why is he not performing in a few months? Because his life has changed. He needs to learn from this experience that is completely different to the past.”

Cole Palmer is grateful for the opportunity Chelsea gave him to join the club after he celebrated successive home hat-tricks when he scored four times in the Blues’ 6-0 win over Everton.

The Manchester City academy graduate, who joined the Blues last summer, scored a spectacular individual goal to open the scoring.

Palmer scored a header and added a third when he capitalised on a Jordan Pickford error before converting a penalty in the second half. Nicolas Jackson and Alfie Gilchrist also got on the scoresheet as the Toffees came completely unstuck.

It was Palmer’s second home triple in a row, following his three goals against Manchester United earlier this month.

Palmer told Chelsea’s official website: “To make the decision to come to Chelsea was a big one for me and my family, but I just wanted to play football. I’m thankful to Chelsea for the opportunity and I’m buzzing.

“We started well and to score a hat-trick, I’m buzzing. I think the team needed that after last Sunday and some previous games. We did well tonight. It was a great game for the team and me.”

Palmer showed wonderful skill for his first goal after he jinked past Jarrad Branthwaite, receiving a flick-on from Jackson before he produced a first-time curled effort from outside the box into the bottom left-hand corner.

The 21-year-old added: “I think my first one was my favourite.

“My right-footed goal was a bit of a swinger, but my first one was probably my favourite. As an attacker, you always want to help the team with goals and assists, but my main focus was playing well and trying to get into the positions to score goals.”

Manager Mauricio Pochettino heaped praise on Palmer, who is now joint top in the Premier League’s Golden Boot race with Erling Haaland on 20 goals each.

He said: “I don’t judge the player when we sign (them) but I expected the best. It doesn’t surprise us, he’s a player who has had the capacity to score goals when he was playing at Manchester City. He has the capacity to score easily.

“The way he’s adapted, playing and performing is fantastic. He behaves like a top scorer and I think it’s amazing for the team and him.”

Cole Palmer’s four-goal haul in Chelsea’s thumping 6-0 win over Everton at Stamford Bridge was overshadowed by what Mauricio Pochettino called “unacceptable” behaviour as two of his players were involved in a physical altercation over who should take a penalty.

The home side were four goals up in the second half when Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke caused the unsavoury scene that left their manager feeling the need to apologise to fans watching the game around the world.

Palmer, the club’s appointed penalty taker, finally took charge following intervention from the captain Conor Gallagher, recovering his composure to score his fourth of the game and move on to 20 Premier League goals for the season.

“The players know, the club knows that Palmer is the penalty-taker,” said Pochettino, who was visibly agitated during his post-match duties.

“I’m so, so upset about the situation. In every country people are watching the game and we cannot send this type of image.

“I want to apologise to our fans. Discipline is the most important thing for the team. It’s a collective sport. I’m not going to accept this type of behaviour. I’m going to be very strong. I promise it’s not going to happen again.

“We need to move on and talk about the game – 6-0 against a very good team like Everton, clean sheet, I think we should be happy, no?”

In a debut season defined by individual excellence, the first half was superb, even by Palmer’s own exceptional standards.

His first goal alone was worthy of winning a Premier League match, nutmegging Jarrad Branthwaite before playing a neat one-two with Jackson, then curling the ball left-footed beyond the dive of Jordan Pickford.

His second was a poacher’s finish, reacting quickest to knock in the rebound after Jackson’s effort had been pushed out by the goalkeeper.

Everton were falling apart, a collapse encapsulated by Pickford’s error, playing the ball straight to Palmer to punt the ball into an empty net from 45 yards.

Jackson scored Chelsea’s fourth, hooking Marc Cucurella’s cross under control and guiding it home with a swing of the right boot.

Then came the sight of Jackson and Madueke pushing and shoving over a penalty awarded in the 63rd minute.

“We don’t talk about punishment,” said Pochettino. “It’s about learning. They are young guys. It was very good the reaction of Gallagher like a captain. But you cannot show that type of behaviour.

“The discipline is going to be stronger. If they behave like kids, it’s impossible. You cannot behave like kids. It’s a shame, it’s an unacceptable thing. We don’t deserve to be talking about this.”

At the end of an excellent display, academy graduate Alfie Gilchrist capped things off by firing home his first goal for the club in stoppage time.

Everton boss Sean Dyche, whose side sit just two points clear of the relegation zone, reflected on a “horrid” night for his team.

“It’s miles off where we want to be,” he said. “There’s no excuses for that. Miles off the mark, miles from where we’ve been.

“The goals were alarmingly poor. It’s just simple tackling, reading and anticipating the game. The basics were out the window. A horrid night without a shadow of a doubt.”

Mauricio Pochettino has warned it will take time for leaders to emerge among Chelsea’s inexperienced squad and rejected comparisons with players who helped shape the club’s illustrious past.

With an average age of just over 23, the Argentinian has worked with the youngest group in this season’s Premier League, and accused his team of lacking maturity in the aftermath of last weekend’s 2-2 draw against bottom side Sheffield United.

Since taking over in May 2022, co-owner Todd Boehly and his Clearlake Capital consortium have pursued a transfer policy exclusively favouring players in their early 20s, while the squad’s more experienced members – many of whom won Chelsea’s last major silverware, the 2021 Champions League – have been moved on.

It has left a squad that has been accused of lacking balance, while at times this season there has been a notable absence of leadership on the pitch, as Chelsea have struggled to climb above mid-table.

But Pochettino, who has repeatedly defended the club’s recruitment strategy, called for perspective, singling out former stars who took time to mature into leadership roles.

“John Terry was young,” he said. “I don’t believe when he was 18, 19 he was already a leader. (Those players) were in a different situation. Maybe they had some help when they were young, maybe they were in another project.

“We are in a project where 80 or 90 per cent of the players are young. They need to grow all together. They need some help. That’s why we are here, to help them in this process to become leaders.

“We’re talking about too many players that only arrived this season at Chelsea and in the Premier League.”

An unbeaten run of seven games, their longest in the league for almost 18 months, has helped drag the team into contention for European qualification.

Victory over Everton at Stamford Bridge on Monday night will put them in a promising position to break into the top eight, likely to be sufficient to reach next season’s Conference League, though they could also seal a Europa League place by finishing in the top seven or by winning the FA Cup.

Nevertheless, Pochettino urged caution, suggesting it is unfair to expect players – such as striker Nicolas Jackson, who has led the line virtually all season despite previously having played only 34 league games for former side Villarreal – to instantly assume the mantel of Chelsea greats.

The 22-year-old has scored 12 goals in 35 appearances since his £32million move from LaLiga, and recent performances have marked a significant improvement on his early weeks in west London.

“We talk about Nicolas Jackson,” said Pochettino. “If we compare with (Didier) Drogba’s first season, there’s hope he can be a leader, but Drogba was a leader in his first season.

“People can find excuses and criticise, but I cannot pay attention. Sometimes you laugh about the opinions you receive from outside.”

Mauricio Pochettino said he doubts whether Chelsea could have handled a European campaign this season as he has grappled with an injury crisis.

The Argentinian could be without 11 players for Monday’s game against Everton, with Enzo Fernandez and Raheem Sterling the latest doubts for the meeting at Stamford Bridge.

It has been the club’s first campaign without European competition since 2016/17, and only their second since 1996/97, following a 12th-place finish in the Premier League last season.

An unbeaten run of seven games, their longest in the league for almost 18 months, has put them in contention to reach either the Europa League or Conference League, whilst they could also qualify by winning the FA Cup.

But Pochettino said the team’s injury problems will need to be addressed if they are to take on more games next season.

“Imagine if we had played in Europe this season, with all the circumstances (injuries)? Oh my goodness,” said the 52-year-old.

“With a squad that is always between eight and 10 players missing in every single game. If you add more games, we would struggle a lot.

“Now it’s about experience, to have all the information to try to help the club to take the best decisions to avoid things like happened this season.

“That is out principal focus, to try to define a squad that can be fit, or have more than 80 per cent availability.”

Teams in previous seasons have benefited from having a season without European competition, taking time to regroup before following up with much improved campaigns the following year.

Liverpool under Brendan Rodgers in 2013/14 came within two points of winning the title whilst not having to contend with a European schedule, whilst Chelsea were crowned champions under Antonio Conte in 2016/17 a year after finishing 10th.

Mikel Arteta led Arsenal to a fifth-place finish in 2021/22, the club’s first without Europe in 26 years, during which the team showed significant progress that has led to them challenging for the title in consecutive seasons.

Pochettino countered that the situation at Chelsea, whose owners have spent over £1billion on assembling a young and largely inexperienced squad, cannot be compared to previous examples.

“Now, it’s completely different,” he said. “You cannot compare to Conte or Brendan Rodgers, it’s not fair. We are in a different Chelsea today.

“The conversation is always to win the next game, then the next and then the next, and see in which position we arrive.

“To have targets is always good. But to have a target it is to have all the elements on (your) side. With all the circumstances we are living (with injuries), it’s about trying to be competitive in the next game, not to put objectives that maybe you will get very frustrated if you don’t win some games that you are supposed to win.”

Chelsea spent more than £75million on agents’ and intermediaries’ fees this season, according to figures released by the Football Association.

The data, which covered the 12 months to February 1 and therefore this season’s two transfer windows, showed the total spend by top-flight clubs was £409.59m – an increase from £318.2m for the 2022-23 campaign.

The Blues head the list paying £75,140,524 – having brought in players like Moises Caicedo, Christopher Nkunku, Romeo Lavia, Nicolas Jackson and Cole Palmer over the period covered – which was almost £32m more than previously spent.

Despite the outlay Mauricio Pochettino’s expensively-assembled squad have endured an inconsistent Premier League campaign – and were branded “blue billion-pound bottle jobs” by Sky Sports pundit Gary Neville late on during their 1-0 extra-time defeat against Liverpool in the Carabao Cup final.

Elsewhere Manchester City – the biggest spenders in the previous list – ranked second on £60.63m.

Rivals Manchester United spent £34.05m, while Liverpool paid £31.50m in fees and Arsenal a total of £24.76m.

At the other end of the spending list, Luton – promoted to the Premier League via the play-offs in May last year – paid the least at £2.02m.

Chelsea’s total exceeded the overall spending on agents’ fees in the Sky Bet Championship of £61.34m – with Leeds top of the list at £13.28m as they push for a swift promotion.

Mauricio Pochettino said it is time to stop talking about injuries and let Chelsea’s academy players show what they can do ahead of Monday’s meeting with Everton.

The Argentinian could have as many as 11 absentees for the game at Stamford Bridge, with Enzo Fernandez and Raheem Sterling amongst the latest doubts.

Training sessions this season have relied heavily on players called up from the academy, and several have been named in matchday squads as the injury crisis has deepened.

The 17-year-old defender Josh Acheampong and 20-year-old Finland youth international Jimi Tauriainen were amongst the substitutes during the 2-2 draw with Burnley at the end of March, whilst 20-year-old Alfie Gilchrist, who penned a new two-year deal this month, has made 13 appearances in all competitions.

Striker Deivid Washington, the 18-year-old signed from Brazilian side Santos last January, has also featured regularly on the bench, as has 21-year-old Cesare Casadei after his year-long loan at Leicester was cut short earlier this year.

Ahead of Everton, Fernandez and Axel Disasi will have their fitness assessed, whilst Sterling and goalkeeper Robert Sanchez are suffering from illness.

Ben Chilwell is training with the first team having not played since the international break but is unlikely to be fit enough to start.

“We need to stop talking,” said Pochettino. “People are waiting for me to talk (about injuries). We need to stop and we need to adapt, and accept the reality. We need to be positive with the players that we have.

“With the young kids that came through the academy, we are going to try to be competitive and to win the game on Monday. We need to accept the (injury) situation.

“If something happens, we need to take the positives. We’re going to have the possibility to train with young guys, players from the academy. Maybe they can step up and show their quality.”

Chelsea’s under-17 side beat Wolves 3-1 at Molineux to lift the Premier League Cup on Thursday, with the under-21s currently fourth in the league and the under-18s top of their division.

“Maybe before the end of the season we can have some surprise from a player we didn’t count on, that can have a good profile for Chelsea,” said Pochettino. “When that happens, another door will be open.

“Chelsea have one of the best academies in the world. It’s our responsibility to pay attention and to care about these guys. Because of the situation, they’re going have the chance to be involved on Monday.”

Pochettino hinted at taking a more measured approach to his post-match media duties after he accused his players of lacking maturity following Sunday’s 2-2 draw with Sheffield United.

“I think I need to be more cautious with my words after the game,” he said. “It’s a fact that we have a young squad but also I need to adapt a different message.

“We are winners. We arrived here knowing Chelsea’s history is about winning. So when you don’t win like against Sheffield, we felt disappointed and frustrated. It’s not easy to face (the media) and be calm.”

Mauricio Pochettino said Chelsea’s status as a big club dictates the style that has helped them loosen their goalscoring inhibitions this season.

With nine Premier League games still to play the team have already scored 15 more goals than they managed in the entirety of the last campaign, when they recorded the club’s lowest return in almost a century.

After failing to find the net in three of Pochettino’s first six games in charge, including consecutive blanks against Nottingham Forest, Bournemouth and Aston Villa, there has been a significant change in the Argentinian’s approach, favouring a more fluid, open style that has seen goals conceded as well as scored.

The 4-3 win against Manchester United on Thursday means there have been a combined 33 goals for and against Chelsea in their last six games in all competitions at Stamford Bridge.

In total there have been 10 games this season in which the team has either scored or conceded four or more goals – or both, in the case of their 4-4 draw with Manchester City – whilst the swashbuckling style has also seen 13 penalties awarded in their favour.

By contrast, the team went the entirety of the 2022-23 campaign without scoring four in a match.

“The quality is our philosophy,” said Pochettino, who takes his team to Bramall Lane to face the league’s bottom side Sheffield United on Sunday.

“We are always thinking to go forward, to create chances. We are in the top four in the Premier League at creating big chances.

“It’s about philosophy. We see different clubs that try to get goals or chances through set-pieces, but we are Chelsea. We are a big club. A big club is about creating a philosophy to play good football, and play in the opposite half.

“It’s about ideas, about how we taste football. We have a lot of attempts in the last third. It’s why we get (so many) penalties. That is a good quality of the team, and of the football we want to apply here at Chelsea.”

Chelsea have forced themselves into the reckoning for European qualification off the back of their longest unbeaten league run in almost 18 months.

Despite not playing they climbed to ninth in the league on Saturday courtesy of Brighton’s 3-0 defeat to Arsenal.

They have games in hand which if won would see them overtake the two teams directly above them, Newcastle and West Ham, and draw to within two points of sixth-place Manchester United, who play Liverpool on Sunday.

Sixth is almost certain be a Europa League qualifying spot, though they could also reach the competition by winning the FA Cup.

Pochettino will lead his team out in the semi-final against City at Wembley on April 20.

Mauricio Pochettino hailed a “turning point” in Chelsea’s strained relationship with their fans after Cole Palmer’s stoppage-time double completed a hat-trick and sealed an unlikely 4-3 win against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

United looked to have the match won until, in the seventh minute of stoppage time, Diogo Dalot fell into Noni Madueke to concede a penalty from which Palmer scored to seemingly rescue a point.

But there was more drama to come. With almost the game’s final kick, Palmer blasted at goal and, via a deflection from Scott McTominay, scored to bury Erik ten Hag’s side and spark joyous scenes amongst home supporters.

Relations between fans and the club have soured as Chelsea’s fortunes have plummeted, but the response at the end was one of unbridled delight, with Pochettino predicting a fresh start off the back of this win.

“It was amazing,” he said. “We were the better team today and it was fair we scored in the the last minute.

“We started really well, 2-0 (up), the game was under control, then we made a mistake and suffered an emotional impact. It wasn’t easy to deal with. In the second half we controlled the game (but) conceded in transitions.

“It was important to finish like that, creating the connection between our fans and players. It’s a very good thing that happened today. It should be a turning point for the fans’ trust in the team.”

It had all looked like being a far simpler affair when his team raced into a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes, Conor Gallagher squeezing a shot beneath Andre Onana’s dive, then a penalty clipped into the corner by Palmer.

United were overwhelmed by Pochettino’s side attacking ferociously, but an error by Moises Caicedo changed the nature of the game as a loose ball straight to Alejandro Garnacho saw the forward race away to score.

The game was level minutes later as Bruno Fernandes stealed away at the far post to nod Dalot’s cross beyond Djordje Petrovic.

Garnacho’s header from Antony’s superb ball midway through the half looked like being the winner.

Then came Palmer’s crazy intervention at the death, as Chelsea breathed life into their bid to qualify for Europe.

“It was really unfair (to be losing),” said Pochettino. “Why were we losing the game. Football is like this. But we always kept believing.

“We were saying to the players ‘two minutes, two minutes’. (At 2-2) we believed we could score the winning goal.

“It was a must-win game if we wanted to reduce the gap above us. It was so, so important.”

A visibly downcast Ten Hag reflected on poor decision-making that led to his team’s defeat.

“We started poor, making individual errors,” he said. “But I had the feeling we were dominating and we fought ourselves back.

“We were in a winning poison with very good football and scoring great goals. Then in stoppage time, we didn’t bring the win over the line.

“You have to do your job, you have to make the right decisions, and we didn’t react quick enough to avoid this situation.

“We dominated the game, especially our wide players were a danger: Garnacho, Antony.

“We have to make better decisions. You saw how we score from counters. We can be such a massive threat and we’ve seen again today an example.

“But we have to read when to keep the ball, especially when you are winning. Keep the ball, pass and move and switch the play instead of giving it way.”

Mauricio Pochettino hailed a “turning point” in Chelsea’s strained relationship with their fans after Cole Palmer’s stoppage-time double completed a hat-trick and sealed a 4-3 win against Manchester United at Stamford Bridge.

United looked to have the match won until, in the seventh minute of stoppage time, Diogo Dalot fell into Noni Madueke to concede a penalty from which Palmer scored to seemingly rescue a point.

But there was more drama to come. With almost the game’s final kick, Palmer blasted at goal and, via a deflection from Scott McTominay, scored to bury Erik ten Hag’s side and spark joyous scenes amongst home supporters.

Relations between fans and the club have soured as Chelsea’s fortunes have plummeted, but the response at the end was one of unbridled delight, with Pochettino predicting a fresh start off the back of this win.

“It was amazing,” he said. “We were the better team today and it was fair we scored in the the last minute.

“We started really well, 2-0 (up), the game was under control, then we made a mistake and suffered an emotional impact. It wasn’t easy to deal with. In the second half we controlled the game (but) conceded in transitions.

“It was important to finish like that, creating the connection between our fans and players. It’s a very good thing that happened today. It should be a turning point for the fans’ trust in the team.”

It had all looked like being a far simpler affair when his team raced into a two-goal lead inside 20 minutes, Conor Gallagher squeezing a shot beneath Andre Onana’s dive, then a penalty clipped into the corner by Palmer.

United were overwhelmed by Pochettino’s side attacking ferociously, but an error by Moises Caicedo changed the nature of the game as a loose ball straight to Alejandro Garnacho saw the forward race away to score.

The game was level minutes later as Bruno Fernandes stealed away at the far post to nod Dalot’s cross beyond Djordje Petrovic.

Garnacho’s header from Antony’s superb ball midway through the half looked like being the winner.

Then came Palmer’s crazy intervention at the death, as Chelsea breathed life into their bid to qualify for Europe.

“It was really unfair (to be losing),” said Pochettino. “Why were we losing the game. Football is like this. But we always kept believing.

“We were saying to the players ‘two minutes, two minutes’. (At 2-2) we believed we could score the winning goal.

“It was a must-win game if we wanted to reduce the gap above us. It was so, so important.”

A visibly downcast Ten Hag reflected on poor decision-making that led to his team’s defeat.

“We started poor, making individual errors,” he said. “But I had the feeling we were dominating and we fought ourselves back.

“We were in a winning poison with very good football and scoring great goals. Then in stoppage time, we didn’t bring the win over the line.

“You have to do your job, you have to make the right decisions, and we didn’t react quick enough to avoid this situation.

“We dominated the game, especially our wide players were a danger: Garnacho, Antony.

“We have to make better decisions. You saw how we score from counters. We can be such a massive threat and we’ve seen again today an example.

“But we have to read when to keep the ball, especially when you are winning. Keep the ball, pass and move and switch the play instead of giving it way.”

Mauricio Pochettino warned his players hard work is still required at Chelsea despite the increase to their status and bank balance that comes with joining the club.

A chaotic campaign that has seen the first-team squad decimated by injuries threatens to peter out, with the club marooned in 12th place ahead of the visit of Manchester United to Stamford Bridge on Thursday night.

It comes five days after the league’s second-bottom side Burnley left west London with a 2-2 draw despite playing the whole of the second half with 10 men, as relations between the club and its supporters seemed to sink further into discord.

The club has an FA Cup semi-final against Manchester City at Wembley to come later in the month, likely to be their only chance of salvaging a dismal season.

Chelsea are on course for their second bottom-half league finish in a row and Pochettino called on his players to use the final weeks of the campaign to follow his own hard-working example and show supporters why they were signed as part of a £1billion overhaul of the squad.

“When I was in Espanyol, my first job as a coach, I was on the training ground at seven o’clock every morning,” said the Argentinian.

“Then I moved to Southampton, six-thirty. Then Tottenham, seven. Then Paris (St Germain), six in the morning. Now six forty-five. You can ask the guy on security.

“It’s not going to change after 15 years. My passion is here. My motivation is football. You increase your bank account but that cannot put me in a comfortable zone to say ‘now I will arrive at nine o’clock and leave at two o’clock’. I need to keep pushing myself.

“If (a player) arrives from another club where there was less money, less expectation but now I arrive here because people believe I am so good, what do I need to do? It’s to arrive early, it’s to work more, it’s to run more, be focused more.

“It’s more responsibility now. We feel that responsibility.”

The Chelsea Supporters’ Trust wrote to the owners and senior management last month to communicate their dismay at the direction the club is taking under the leadership of Todd Boehly’s Clearlake Capital consortium.

The letter warned of potentially irreparable damage that is being done to the relationship between the club and its supporters, as the team has gone from being Champions League regulars to a mid-table side in less than two years.

Pochettino rejected the suggestion players have already adopted the view that the season is doomed and there is little left to salvage.

“If you are in a comfort zone, you drop in your level, you drop in your standard,” he said. “I don’t say that that has happened here. Too many other things have happened.”

Mauricio Pochettino has defended Conor Gallagher after the midfielder received abuse on social media for failing to high-five a mascot.

Chelsea said in a statement that the “defamatory comments” made towards Gallagher were “completely unacceptable” and that the video had been taken out of context.

The incident occurred in the tunnel immediately ahead of kick-off when the Blues played Burnley at Stamford Bridge on Saturday, with the 24-year-old seemingly not noticing that one of the mascots had held up his hand.

Pochettino rejected any suggestion that the player acted intentionally, and condemned the online reaction to the incident.

“It has upset me so much,” he said. “No one wants to do this with this intention. When you are focusing on playing and starting the game, that sometimes can happen.

“People always try to find things to create a mess. I know Conor. Come on – there’s never that intention. Conor is a great kid and always is caring about everything. I hate how people feel free to abuse on social media.”

It is the second time this season that a Chelsea player has been subjected to abuse on social media, after captain Reece James spoke out earlier this year about unfair criticism he had received when he was ruled out with injury.

Pochettino has spoken out previously about the impact of online attacks against players, and re-emphasised the urgency in ridding the game of the problem.

“Today, abuse of people is so easy,” he said. “Whenever this type of thing happens, we (must not) give too much attention to the type of people that want to create it, to insult and abuse other people. Please stop.

“How is it possible to believe that Conor’s intention is to ignore a mascot? Come on. It makes me very sad.

“Our responsibility is to try to ignore this type of thing. The people that try to create it never help our lives. They don’t deserve attention.

“The problem with social media today is it’s like a compulsory thing if you want to communicate. It measures your value, depending on the followers you have.

“It puts value on you in front of society. That is the problem. We’re seeing too many things like this that are so wrong in society.”

Pochettino also highlighted the example of Barcelona defender Inigo Martinez, who this week was filmed getting out of his car to remonstrate with a fan who had criticised him verbally.

The reaction to Martinez’s handling of the situation has been mixed, with some criticising him for confronting the supporter whilst others have offered their backing.

Pochettino suggested the player had been deliberately provoked in order that his reaction could be filmed and posted online.

“It is society that consumes (this material),” he said. “All that people are interested in are bad things.

“We are a bit responsible also. We opened the door, all the documentaries. People want to see when we are fighting but never things that are good, happy things. They want to find the wrong things. That is the society that we are all involved in.”

Mauricio Pochettino admitted his Chelsea players are relying on Cole Palmer to get them out of trouble during games this season.

The summer signing from Manchester City is top scorer at Stamford Bridge after his two goals against Burnley on Saturday took him to 16 for the campaign.

His impact has been one of the few bright spots in an otherwise tumultuous season for Pochettino and his team, who languish in the bottom half of the Premier League table after failing to overcome the league’s second-bottom side at home despite playing against 10 men for the entirety of the second half.

Palmer scored a first-half penalty to break the deadlock then, after Burnley had levelled via Josh Cullen’s volley, looked to have won it with a finely taken finish into the corner with 12 minutes to play.

But Chelsea were immediately undone by a header from a corner from defender Dara O’Shea as Vincent Kompany’s side rescued an unlikely point and doomed home fans to another frustrating result.

Few players have lived up to Palmer’s example this season, with Saturday’s meek surrender after twice taking the lead a prime case study in a campaign that has gone badly awry.

“He’s a good example for the rest,” said Pochettino.

“From day one he has taken responsibility. When the team struggle to find solutions, they give the ball to him.

“It’s a dream (to have him). He brings very positive things for the team. And for him to have the possibility to play games he didn’t play in the last year for Manchester City.

“Now he has the continuity and consistency, he’s showing the capacity that we thought he could add to the team.”

Chelsea looked to have the game firmly under control when Clarets defender Lorenz Assignon was red carded for fouling Mykhailo Mudryk just before half-time, conceding the penalty from which Palmer scored with an impudent Panenka chip.

But despite peppering the visitors’ goal with 33 shots they failed to stymie Burnley’s threat and never really looking comfortable when out of possession.

That they extended their unbeaten league run to five games, their longest in almost 18 months, was of little consolation to supporters at the final whilst – nor, thinks Pochettino, to Palmer.

“It’s a collective,” he said. “He cannot be happy (after a result like this). He is disappointed.”

Mauricio Pochettino conceded Chelsea are missing something after they failed to defeat 10-man Burnley in what he reflected had been a “must-win” game at Stamford Bridge, which ended 2-2.

Cole Palmer’s goal, drilled into the bottom corner from Raheem Sterling’s delightful flick with 12 minutes to play, looked to have nicked it for the hosts, restoring the lead after Josh Cullen had whacked Burnley level on the volley early in the second half.

Palmer had earlier given Chelsea the lead from the penalty spot, converting after Lorenz Assignon had fouled Mykhailo Mudryk and been shown a second yellow card, whilst a furious Vincent Kompany was also dismissed from the touchline for remonstrating.

But Pochettino was left to rue another frustrating result when, minutes after Palmer had made it 2-1, Dara O’Shea got forward from a corner, evaded everybody in blue inside the box and headed the ball through the clumsy grasp of goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic to salvage the visitors a point.

“Today we didn’t show the capacity, the energy, the hunger,” said Pochettino. “Not the minimum to compete in the Premier League. In defensive phases, we concede too much.

“That is why I’m so upset and disappointed. It’s more here (in the heart) and here (in the head) than in your legs. It’s about being strong like a group, strong like a team.

“We are too slow evolving in this area. That was the key today. The team played well, we had energy. When we have the ball, we go forwards.

“But when we didn’t have the ball, we don’t have the same energy. Today, sorry, I am not happy with the performance when we don’t have the ball.

“It’s difficult to accept not to win. It was a must-win game to be in a position to attack (the table).”

At five games, Chelsea’s unbeaten league run is now the longest they have enjoyed in almost 18 months, but there was little positive cheer shown by fans at the end towards Pochettino and his players.

In failing to beat the Premier League’s second-bottom side, they lost further ground in what looks an increasingly doomed bid to qualify for Europe via their league placing.

Pochettino felt that his team’s problems in turning performances into points ultimately had a psychological root.

“(The players) need to realise that competing is different to playing football,” he said. “We can be there and play, but we need to increase our level.

“It’s not about blaming the players. Maybe we (the coaching staff) need to be tougher with them.

“We need to be more ruthless, find better communication, be more competitive.

“We are missing something. That’s why we are where we are. When we don’t have the ball we need to increase our capacity to recover it.”

Burnley’s assistant manager Craig Bellamy reflected on a performance of which the travelling supporters could be proud.

“To be able to show the patience they showed, working together, the organisation, the commitment, you couldn’t be nothing short of proud watching it,” he said.

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