On his first day at Cobham, new head coach Mauricio Pochettino spoke exclusively about why he joined the project at Chelsea, building on the club’s winning culture, the importance of his staff, and his excitement to work with the squad.
Welcome to Chelsea, Mauricio. Firstly, what attracted you and your team to the project here at the club?
‘Thank you very much. For me, it is a pleasure and honour to now be involved with Chelsea Football Club. We are so excited, and I know Chelsea very well, it is one of the greatest clubs in the world. So of course, it was easy for us to make the decision to move here.
‘We are so happy that today we can start here at Cobham in the training ground and meet the people and the staff. It is exciting for us and what we want is to bring the happiness again to this great football club. We will work hard, play in a way the fans can enjoy football, and the history of Chelsea is to win – but it is important also in the way we are going to build those victories.
‘We are excited, so happy, and are very grateful to all the people. Of course, it starts with [chairman] Todd (Boehly), [co-controlling owners] Behdad (Eghbali), Jose (E. Feliciano), and after all the people really welcomed us today and a few days ago when we arrived for the first time at Cobham.’
You mentioned the history, how important is that and the culture of the club?
‘I think it’s important and it’s a culture of winning. In the last 10, 12, 15 years, Chelsea is the greatest team in England. I know very well the Premier League and what the culture of Chelsea means. I think our fans are excited to again be on the road of trying to win.
‘Of course, we are excited. We are excited to work with a very young team, with a different approach than in the past. But I think we all need to understand that we have to work really hard and create a very good atmosphere at the training ground to build success for the team in the next few years.’
The profile of the squad has changed a lot over the past 12 months, how big an opportunity does that give you and your coaching team?
‘It is exciting for us because we love good players, players with the capacity and then talent, but also we want people who want to be with us at this club and be really open to help the club achieve what we want.
‘From the beginning, the owners and sporting directors were very clear about the project and we were very excited to join them in this project. We are here to try to help the club and the fans. In the end, the most important thing in football is for them to be happy and to feel proud of us and in the way we approach games. The players need to know that.
‘Of course, there are always up and downs in the history of football, but Chelsea is a club that it is impossible to have these up and downs. We need to be sure that we bring what the club needs to be at the top because the history of the club is to be at the top.’
What are your expectations of the players while they are here at Cobham?
‘The expectation is to for them to be open and to let us manage. They need for us, first of all, to create a platform so they can feel comfortable here. They need to have their space and feel important.
‘Our expertise is to give Chelsea the best tools for the players to be successful, to improve individually and collectively. We have the experience and together we can create a fantastic journey. That is what we want: to be together, to work together, and be part of this football club.
‘If we are all together, we are going to be very strong. We have an unbelievable squad and for sure are going to bring players with commitment who want to be part of it also. With the fans and everyone, we can find again the way to be successful.’
What are your first impressions here at Cobham?
‘It’s a fantastic, really nice training ground. The most important thing is players and staff need to feel that it is our home. It’s not only a place to come to work, it’s to come here and feel like home. Our responsibility is to help create this feeling and we are fully committed to trying to create a big atmosphere where people can feel really happy to work.
‘I always believe that together we can achieve everything – you can’t put a limit. We are going to try to fight with this to be all together on a fantastic journey together.’
How important will pre-season and the tour to the United States be?
‘It’s a different objective in pre-season. The results need to arrive in the Premier League and the competitions we are involved in. Now we must provide the players with the best tools for them to grow, feel better, and start the pre-season in perfect condition.
‘It is not closed, the squad, and the club is doing a fantastic job to finish the squad so we have the players here to work with us as soon as possible. Together, we are going to be in a perfect situation to work and develop the way we want to apply ourselves on the pitch.’
Tell us about your coaching team and how important your relationship is?
‘It’s so important, and that is our philosophy we want to share here at Chelsea. I need to feel that you all are my staff, my people, and you need to feel I am your colleague. We need to work together, and all need to feel important.
‘Football has changed in the last few years, it is important in every single area to have people with quality and the capacity to push us and myself to be better. We need leaders, not followers, in every single area and we will push every person to bring their best and give their best for the club.’
How do you feel you have evolved as a coach over the last few years?
‘I am much, much, much better! No, I think it is an important experience to analyse. We have had times in the past to analyse everything and to be better. Evolution is every day, trying to be better. Experiences are something you must capitalise on because if not, experience is nothing.
‘I think we are in the correct way to try to add things and help the players to be better. We are a better coaching staff and a staff that loves to innovate, be ahead of everything, but also share and mix with the football of the past.
‘We are responsible to keep the values of football from the past, they are amazing and why we are in love with football. Football is a contact of emotion; it is so important. The emotion can’t only come through the fans. That is our responsibility.
‘The players also have to also send the message and emotion. The team sends to the fans, the fans to the team, and the staff to the players.
‘We all move through the emotion, but that is why it is important to have clear ideas about new technology to help and provide better tools to the player. But at the same time, the smell, the eyes, the skin, it’s so important to keep these human senses in the same way.’
There will be more from Mauricio published later today!