Pochettino on Chelsea boos: I’m in charge, fans must trust me

Mauricio Pochettino has urged Chelsea fans to show “unconditional” support and trust his judgement after many supporters criticised his decision-making and the performance of Raheem Sterling during Sunday’s FA Cup quarterfinal win over Leicester City.

Chelsea required two goals in stoppage-time to win 4-2 at Stamford Bridge as substitutes Carney Chukwuemeka and Noni Madueke struck late to see off the Championship side, who were reduced to 10 men following Callum Doyle’s 73rd-minute red card.

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Marc Cucurella and Cole Palmer had earlier given the home side a 2-0 first-half lead either side of Sterling missing a penalty and then a golden chance when sent clear just before the interval.

Pochettino’s decision to introduce Chukwuemeka for Mykhailo Mudryk on 78 minutes was greeted with chants of “you don’t know what you’re doing” from angry Chelsea fans, who also turned on Sterling by shouting “get him off” after he skied a free-kick.

“I am not the manager here to do what the people want,” Pochettino said. “Also, I am not stupid. I did it to go again. For me, I saw Mudryk. We analyse, he was tired and doing some stretching. We thought maybe he will not finish the game and we decide to go first for Mudryk and then for Raheem.

“That is because we need to see everything. We are professional. We want to win but of course, completely understand the situation. That doesn’t mean that I agree. But look, we are going to support Mudryk, Raheem, and all the players in the squad.

“I not only ask the [fans] to trust me. They need to trust the club because in the end if I am here it is the decision of the club and they need to trust the project of the club, as well as me and the club. They need to trust that the club is doing what they think is good for the club and for the fans. It is about trusting everyone.”

Chelsea were pegged back when Axel Disasi scored a comical own goal six minutes after the break before Stephy Mavididi curled in a brilliant equaliser just after the hour mark.

But Chelsea found a way to win and book their second appearance at Wembley this season after losing the Carabao Cup Final to Liverpool.

Pochettino defended Sterling and called for unity among the club’s supporters with many fans frustrated after a campaign which currently sees them lying in 11th place in the Premier League despite spending more than £1 billion since Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital completed their takeover in May 2022.

“It is obvious, I cannot hide nothing,” Pochettino said. “The feelings weren’t good for him [Sterling] but I am going to support him.

“Today is a great opportunity to support him. He has an unbelievable CV, a player who has played in big teams, experienced player.

“Of course, today he missed the penalty and some chances. But look, I am happy with him, we are going to support.

“Maybe I need to explain also to the fans. We need to accept. It doesn’t mean that we agree or not agree. But we need to accept. All the fans in football live with expectation and always wanting the best for the club and the player.

“When you don’t match the expectation, that is the difficult thing for our fans to understand. I was talking also in the past: I am strong, I have no problem. We are going to keep moving in the same direction. Of course, we want to create better atmosphere. I cannot lie.

“I hope next game our fans will be always unconditional in [being] behind the team because we are representing Chelsea. The players also, they want to give their best for the club and for the fans. We are in a process where we want to make our fans happy. I hope we can create until the end of the season, a good connection with the fans. I am not going to criticise them, never because they are entitled to say what they want.”

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