Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino goes back on his word after Mudryk promise

Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino goes back on his word after Mudryk promise

Mauricio Pochettino has publicly stood by Mykhaylo Mudryk whenever the Chelsea winger has come under fire after experiencing some difficulties in adjusting to the fast and furious nature of the Premier League. He also promised him the chance to win over the fans after speaking of how he is trusting the coaches in their attempts to help him eradicate the weaknesses in his game. But there are signs that Pochettino might be starting to go back on his word.

It was clear to the Argentinian that there was a talent with enormous potential that just needed to rediscover his confidence and get acquainted with a tougher league than he was used to. Pochettino, as a nurturing presence with a proclivity for giving youngsters a chance to earn their stripes, recognised Mudryk’s efforts and decided to narrow his focus on the Ukrainian.

“It’s about time and to have patience, to trust these guys and these young, talented players, and to build their confidence,” Pochettino said in October after beating Fulham 2-0. “It’s about maturity, adaptation. We need to understand that young people need time, need to settle.”

Yet, for the third game running, Mudryk was left on the bench amongst the substitutes as the Blues were soundly beaten in a heavy 4-1 defeat by Newcastle. Only when they were two goals and a man down did the Chelsea coach – sitting in the stands as he served a touchline ban – instruct his assistants to bring on the winger, and by then it was too late.

It was certainly understandable if he wanted to ease Mudryk back into action after he suffered a slight muscle problem earlier in November. But the manner of his introduction against Tottenham, where he sparked the game into life against their nine-man opponents, suggested he had fully recovered.

He played a part in one of the goals with a pass into Conor Gallagher, who then set up Nicolas Jackson. He also had some role in Gallagher’s assist for Jackson in the 4-4 draw with Manchester City, with a quick burst of pace before passing inside.

It was another example of how the 22-year-old has shown a marked improvement this season since he started working with Pochettino individually. He scored the opening goal against Fulham in a 2-0 win, which was a well-taken goal and highlighted the very ability that convinced Chelsea owner Todd Boehly to lay down £88million and an eight-year contract for the Shakhtar Donetsk trainee.

Then, against Arsenal, Mudryk produced a moment of magic – or great fortune depending on who you ask – by catching out Arsenal goalkeeper David Raya with a lob from an acute angle. He claimed he meant it, and his manager believed him.

In both games, Mudryk started in his natural position and rewarded his boss with two goals. At last, he had a manager at Chelsea that believed in him.

Graham Potter wasn’t convinced, aside from an exciting debut cameo against Liverpool, while Frank Lampard left him as an unused substitute at times during his terrible run as caretaker. Only Pochettino has shown a vested interest in helping the forward reach his potential, but his words of praise have gradually faded and his actions are starting to speak louder.

But by leaving out Mudryk of his starting lineup for three consecutive games, it casts doubt on whether Pochettino truly believes Mudryk can become a Chelsea great. In addition, it also devalues the meaning of his own promise to the winger to give him the chance to improve. If he doesn’t deserve a place in the XI after scoring twice in two starts, when does he?

The awful second-half display against Newcastle might now give him a lifeline, with Pochettino’s anger likely to trigger a host of changes for their next clash against Brighton. Nicolas Jackson could be sacrificed after an anonymous display, while the Conor Gallagher experiment as a No 10 was quickly ditched and he was shifted out to the right, changing places with Cole Palmer.

Mudryk has already proved once this season he can inflict damage on Brighton, scoring a sensational solo effort from 20 yards in pre-season. With his promise ringing in his ears, Pochettino has got little to lose and much more to gain by unleashing him at Stamford Bridge on Sunday.