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In their first season under new leadership, the Blues found themselves in a disappointing 12th place, despite wearing the FIFA Club World champions badge as a stark reminder of their rapid descent. Mauricio Pochettino was brought in to revitalize Chelsea after cycling through four head coaches in the previous season. With a bloated squad in need of trimming, the focus shifted towards retaining and improving the club’s younger talents.

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Last spring, there were murmurs that Pochettino might return to his former club Tottenham Hotspur, who were seeking a progressive successor to Antonio Conte. Despite fans chanting for Pochettino’s return, Spurs ultimately opted for Ange Postecoglou. However, when Chelsea faced Tottenham in November, Pochettino’s return to Tottenham Hotspur Stadium ended in a 4-1 defeat for Spurs, more due to their own collapse than Chelsea’s brilliance.

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In the reverse fixture, Pochettino’s Chelsea emerged victorious with goals from Trevoh Chalobah and Nicolas Jackson, showcasing a defensive solidity reminiscent of his peak years at Spurs. Meanwhile, Postecoglou’s Spurs struggled to maintain coherence, composure, and personality, falling victim to Tottenham’s historical struggles at Stamford Bridge.

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Throughout his tenure, Pochettino has faced scrutiny, but his players have shown resilience on and off the pitch. His selfless approach, evident during his time at Tottenham, has carried over to Chelsea. While Postecoglou’s stubbornness, particularly regarding set-piece issues, cost Spurs, Pochettino’s side demonstrated adaptability and determination, fighting for every inch.

Spurs’ decision to pass on Pochettino last year in search of a successor reflects his initial reign’s unraveling when he failed to initiate a new cycle. Amidst the chaos at Chelsea, Pochettino continues to navigate the storm, keeping the team within reach of a Europa League spot despite the challenges along the way.

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