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Gary Neville says Mauricio Pochettino has unrealistic expectations from his players

Published: Updated: 03:53, 12 Mar 2024
United legend has criticised Pochettino for his ineffective tactics for player

Former Manchester United defender and current pundit, Gary Neville, has raised concerns over Mauricio Pochettino's tactical approach with his Chelsea side. According to Neville, the Argentine manager is asking his players to execute a strategy they are not equipped for.

During his coverage for Sky Sports, Neville expressed doubts about the ability of Chelsea's current goalkeeper and centre-backs to play out from the back with their goal kicks. This tactic involves defenders receiving short passes from their goalkeeper and building attacks from deep within their own half.

Pochettino fielded a defensive duo against Newcastle that had never previously played together for Chelsea. Trevoh Chalobah made just his second start of the season alongside Axel Disasi - one of only a few players available throughout this campaign for the Blues.

The lack of experience working together was evident in this match-up, further complicated by Marc Cucurella making his first appearance of 2024.

Neville backed his claims with team’s vulnerable display from back

In just the opening minutes of the Newcastle match, Djorjde Petrovic was forced into an uncomfortable position due to this risky tactic. After a goal kick routine put them under real pressure, he had no choice but to give away a throw-in right in his own corner.

Neville seized on this incident as evidence that playing out from the back is simply not feasible with Pochettino’s current squad selection.

Former Man Utd player, Gary Neville, said

“You watch some teams do that goal kick where the centre-back passes to the goalkeeper and they’re full of confidence, but you’ve got a Chelsea back four which are changing at best, and you’re asking them to do something they’re not even capable of.”

“This is actually my main worry for Chelsea. These six-yard goal kicks.”

The Blues came on top despite hiccups in the game

Despite these criticisms and early game hiccups, it wasn't all doom and gloom for Chelsea fans. The Blues managed an impressive start when Nicolas Jackson cleverly diverted Cole Palmer’s shot towards goal using a deft touch. This gave them an early lead in what marked Premier League football's return at Stamford Bridge after international break.

The Senegal international has now scored three goals in as many games for the club, providing a bright spot amidst concerns over Pochettino's tactics.

While Chelsea managed to secure a win against Newcastle, Neville's critique of Pochettino’s tactical approach raises important questions. Will the Argentine manager adjust his strategy to better suit his players' capabilities? Or will he persist with his current game plan and hope that his squad can adapt? Only time will tell how this tactical conundrum unfolds at Stamford Bridge.

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