After Chelsea’s humiliating 1-0 loss to Middlesbrough on the road in the first leg of the Carabao Cup semi-final on Tuesday, manager Mauricio Pochettino is under tremendous pressure once again. The 51-year-old witnessed his team succumb to the same problems that have dogged them throughout the season, necessitating a turnaround at Stamford Bridge in two weeks.
After 20 games, Chelsea is currently in the middle of the table with as many losses as wins, and Pochettino’s troubles are becoming worse. Despite only taking over in the summer, this is not the first time he has faced criticism in his role as manager.
The club stuck with the former Tottenham head coach following a 2-0 loss to Everton in the beginning of December, but after just one month, several supporters began to question his managerial abilities as well. There is waning hope despite the second leg still to come, a minor improvement in league form, and an FA Cup fourth-round encounter imminent.
On a different day, Chelsea might have scored three goals at the Riverside Stadium despite Middlesbrough’s early lead, but Cole Palmer’s hat-trick of huge chances before halftime forced Chelsea to respond. Hayden Hackney’s game-winning goal was the result of Michael Carrick’s tenacious Boro team making them pay for yet another sluggish start.
Chelsea enjoyed almost total possession in the aftermath, creating many chances to tie the score but ultimately coming up short. Although Pochettino still has the opportunity to make amends, his patience is growing thin. It is only halftime in the semi-final.
At 14/1, the manager is the least likely to be fired in the Premier League, behind only Roy Hodgson, Erik ten Hag, Eddie Howe, Vincent Kompany, and Thomas Frank. However, a sign of how badly things have gone is that all of these managers have been in command for far longer than Pochettino.
Chelsea is determined to stick with Pochettino, who still has 18 months left on his initial contract, but no manager in recent memory has been able to endure the club’s collapse out of a cup competition to lower league opponents and struggle in 10th place.