Troubled Chelsea hire Mauricio Pochettino on two-year deal

The 51-year-old Argentinian is tasked with reviving Chelsea’s football fortunes after its worst Premier League campaign since 1994.

Pochettino points from the sidelines
The former Spurs and PSG manager will take over from Chelsea's interim coach Frank Lampard on July 1 [File: Benoit Tessier/Reuters]

Chelsea have confirmed the appointment of Mauricio Pochettino as head coach after the former Tottenham Hotspur and Paris Saint-Germain manager signed a two-year contract with the option of a further year.

Pochettino will take over from interim boss Frank Lampard on July 1, the club said on Monday.

“Mauricio is a world-class coach with an outstanding track record. We are all looking forward to having him on board,” Chelsea’s owners said in a statement.

Pochettino, who favours a high-pressing and attacking style of play, garnered a reputation for fostering young talent and led Southampton to an eighth-placed finish in his first full season in England before moving in 2014 to join Spurs, where he had an impressive 5 1/2-year spell that included a run to the Champions League final.

The 51-year-old Argentinian will be tasked with reviving Chelsea’s fortunes.

The London club won the Champions League in 2021, but ended this season without any silverware and finished 12th in the league – their worst campaign since 1993-94, when they finished 14th under Glenn Hoddle – despite their new US owners’ huge outlay on players.

Pochettino is the third permanent Chelsea manager since their sale in 2022 to a consortium led by LA Dodgers part-owner Todd Boehly and backed by Clearlake Capital, a private equity firm.

Graham Potter was fired in March after nearly seven months in charge. Frank Lampard has led the team on an interim basis since and co-controlling owners Boehly and Behdad Eghbali said the ex-Chelsea midfielder was brought in so the club could conduct a “thorough and exhaustive process” to hire a permanent manager.

Chelsea lost eight of their 11 matches under Lampard, finishing in the bottom half of the table and without European football for next season after their quarterfinal exit from the Champions League.

Pochettino has been linked with some of the biggest clubs in European football since leaving Tottenham in 2019, including Manchester United and Real Madrid.

He won the French title with PSG, but left last year and has been out of work until now.

Pochettino emerged as the favourite for the Chelsea job after the club held talks with the former Spain manager Luis Enrique and Julian Nagelsmann, who was sacked by Bayern Munich in March.

Pochettino verbally agreed to take charge at Chelsea in April, but the appointment was put on hold until the end of the season.

With the Blues wrapping up their lacklustre Premier League campaign with a draw against Newcastle on Sunday, Pochettino flew into England to officially seal the deal.

Kweku Amonoo-Quyst, from the Chelsea Supporters’ Trust, told Al Jazeera that fans were relieved to have a permanent appointment in place.

“I think the first thing is to build a sense of unity between the support and the team because the performances have been so bad over this season that many of our supporters have lost faith in the team and a number of players,” he said.

“I always refer to sports journalist Tim Vickery on this, that a manager has three jobs: the first is to set the team, the second is to pick the strategy and the third is to develop the emotional tone for the team … [if Pochettino] is able to do those three things then I think we’ll be well on the way to arresting a really, really concerning period of time in the history of Chelsea.”

Source: Al Jazeera and news agencies