BREAKING NEWS:”All what he said were false, I never treat any player unjustly or let being bias set in my decision, I will never start him even if all players playing his position are injured” – Mauricio Pochettino gives reason why he doesn’t count on Chelsea Loyalist and Regular Bench warmer

Mauricio Pochettino had hoped that the injury to Christopher Nkunku in pre-season wouldn’t be too serious. Two months on from the friendly clash with Borussia Dortmund, the last of Chelsea’s tour of America, the Frenchman is still some way from a return.

Nkunku went down in the second half clutching at his knee, looking sheepishly around like a player that knew something was up. Pochettino’s words afterwards were said with desperation rather than confidence.

It became apparent quickly that Nkunku would be missing the opening game against Liverpool, that was already a blow for the Blues after they had built around their glamour signing, and then disaster struck. Slowly but surely it emerged that Nkunku’s injury was worse than first feared and that one game turned into weeks then months and now the reality is that the 25-year-old will be lucky to play first team football before 2024.

Although Nkunku’s recovery appears to be going well, he is pretty transparent with the work being done and transmits regular updates on social media of his gym work and progress, this cannot be rushed. Chelsea have been hit with follow-up injuries too often in recent times to make the same mistakes and the former Paris Saint-Germain and RB Leipzig star will be managed extremely cautiously.

He has had issues in the past two years himself and missed a large chunk in the middle of last term with knee trouble in Germany. Pochettino, though, was hanging his hopes on Nkunku and had plenty to say about his plans for the forward. “We are working in the market because we are going to miss an offensive player like this,” the Argentine said at the time.

The club is working, trying to find a solution for maybe short term, medium and long term to add the right profile for the team to perform from now. We feel very sorry about him. He was doing well, he is very important for us. Now it’s about not thinking too much about the injuries and to be positive about when he can be back with us.”

Chelsea ended up turning to Cole Palmer after attempts to sign Mohammed Kudus stalled during the Moises Caicedo and Romeo Lavia saga but it is still Nkunku that offers the most when fit and Pochettino didn’t shy away from opening up on the flexibility and opportunity that he provides.

“I think for the possibility today and the different players we have available and I think it’s a position we decide today, we only have [Nicolas] Jackson and him with the possibility to play as a striker,” Pochettino said explaining his frontline choices. “We are working hard to try to create this dynamic that will become natural and to share time

“I think the two help to know each other. It is good that they feel well, that they feel already part of the team and the group and they share a lot of time together. It is important because you need to start the Premier League in a good condition knowing each other and try to fight for each other to create a real team that is prepared to go and face opponents like Liverpool, Man City and different teams like this.

“Today I think we are happy with the performance and they can complement each other really well. Yes, of course, maybe we can add some different profile or different player who can help us, of course we are open.

“I am so happy with both and we have younger players like Mason [Burstow] today and [Armando] Broja in the UK recovering from his procedure. We need to analyse now in the next weeks until the transfer window closes. We will take the best decision for the team.”

Things have changed drastically since then, not to mention the continued absence of Nkunku himself. Broja is now back but Burstow has been sent on loan to Sunderland. Jackson has managed to impress, to score but also to frustrate and be suspended for yellow card accumulation already.

Without Nkunku the attack has taken a lot of different forms already with Carney Chukwuemeka, Conor Gallagher, Enzo Fernandez and Ben Chilwell all operating out of position in order to fill the gaps left by Nkunku and other injured players. There is, however, a feeling of unity and cohesion in this group that hasn’t been present for a while.

For sure we will arrive in the next few games at the possibility to play them together,” Pochettino said of how Nkunku and Jackson would come together on the pitch. “It is that the circumstance of the physical condition mean we need to use both to share the minutes.

“For Jackson and [Mykhailo] Mudryk, it’s important to score. Nkunku also. Attacking players need to score to get their confidence and trust themselves. It is important to score goals and then we try to improve.

“Today, we maybe had more capacity to stay calm and create more chances and score more goals. These areas we have to work, we’re going to focus our work. It takes time to believe and trust in the process to arrive in the best condition.”

Now with a completely different attack and different names there are new relationships being formed on the pitch, doing a lot of good even without the leader in the team. It only goes to add to the optimism building around Nkunku and how he will eventually take this team on to the next level when he’s back.

About The Author

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *