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Mauricio Pochettino has rejected suggestions he said Chelsea’s players are not good enough, claiming his words following Sunday’s defeat by Wolves were taken out of context.
Immediately after the 4-2 loss at Stamford Bridge that left his team in the bottom half of the Premier League table, the Argentinian appeared to say he did not have the squad to significantly remedy the club’s plight.
Chelsea were booed off at half-time and again at the final whistle, with audible anger directed against both the players and Pochettino personally, while the name of former owner Roman Abramovich could also be heard being sung.
A visibly emotional Pochettino said at the time he understood supporters’ fury in the aftermath of a 10th league defeat in the 23 games of his tenure, and intimated neither he nor the team have been good enough this season.
He has now, before Wednesday’s FA Cup replay at Aston Villa, moved to clarify his position, criticising reports which he felt deliberately took his words not in the spirit in which they were meant.
“Now (when) I’m watching TV and media, some guys take advantage of some situations to take my words out of context,” he said. “That question came from my post-match press conference – are the players good enough to be in the top four or top six? I said, ‘today, we were not good enough, and me the first’.
“Then they said, ‘Pochettino said the players aren’t good enough’. What? It’s taking it out of context, my words. In that game, we were not good enough. I don’t want to hide the reality.
“Be careful. Some people take advantage, when we lose a game, to say things that never appeared in my mouth. That upset me a little bit.
“The most difficult thing is to explain to my wife. ‘Why did you say the players are not good enough?’ I never said that. You know what I had to do last time? To show her the press conference. That is not a joke. It is the reality we live in.”
Pochettino also defended Ben Chilwell, who captained the side in Sunday’s defeat, after he appeared to suggest in a post-match interview that Wolves had shown more desire for the victory than Chelsea.
The defender told Sky Sports: “I think they probably showed that they wanted it more than us.”
However, Pochettino contested that Chilwell intended to question his team-mates’ will to win.
“He said, ‘we didn’t win the 50-50 duels’. That was my interpretation. The result we suffered against Wolves, we are Chelsea and everything is bigger than normal. I was talking with him and it was never his intention to say we didn’t show desire.”
Pochettino added that Thiago Silva had met with him privately to discuss a post sent by the defender’s wife on social media on Sunday that appeared to call for the manager to be sacked.
“He came today to talk with me. I’m not going to talk about (what we said). He came and wanted to talk with me.
“That was private. That’s it.”