Welcome to soccer.london‘s live coverage of Mauricio Pochettino’s press conference ahead of Chelsea’s match with Brighton.
It will be the Blues’ second friendly of the summer after an opening win against Wrexham in North Carolina, but transfers are likely to be on the agenda. Chelsea will be close to target Moises Caicedo and can hope to make some progress with Tony Bloom and the Brighton leaders in getting the midfielder.
Progress has been slow so far after managing to sell Mateo Kovacic, Ruben Loftus-Cheek, Mason Mount and Ethan Ampadu, all of whom can play in midfield. Youngsters Andrey Santos and Cesare Casadei took to the bottom of midfield against Wrexham, with Lewis Hall occupying the position in the second half against the Welsh side. Enzo Fernandez is not yet included.
Pochettino received some good news when Reece James landed in America after he was delayed from joining due to illness, and the defender has already been involved in training.
Scott Trotter is in Philadelphia to hear every word from the Chelsea boss and will bring all the updates below.
Poch Spanish translated.
We are very happy to be here. We came to prepare. I knew the away team and are in a different zone compared to the other teams with their continuity. We are working on preparing for next year and preparing a base for next season.
We want Chelsea to get back to where we belong and want it to be. Newcastle are preparing for the Champions League, Brighton have continuity, that’s not an excuse. We just want to try to win.
Pochettino responds in Spanish
Aubameyang transfer confirmed in the background of all this.
Could all the teams in the Premier League Summer Series be challenging?
Certainly yes. Clubs that will challenge the top five and top four and top six. It’s going to be tough. They showed last season that they are there. You can see Chelsea or another club expecting something they didn’t achieve, that’s why it’s so important now. It’s hard, it always has been. That is why it is so exciting to be here.
A year of expensive transfers? How do you handle players who come for such fees?
Maybe the number of transfers is not true?
It’s the same, the option is the same. I don’t think they care if the club plays big money or not. They only want to play or they want to improve. We are not going to treat people because they pay 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 or 100. We will treat them as a person and a profession.
They all have to do their best. It’s just to be careful about it because sometimes we have to guide in a different way because they do something more than the others because of the investment. We demand the best from them, they arrived, but they have a lot of commitment.
Young team against Wrexham, need to play harder?
I also want to mix, we need players who have time to train. Enzo arrived on Monday after a long holiday period. Now we have to play Brighton on Saturday.
Is it better to have younger guys on the bench?
If they deserve yes. It is not a problem to have them in the squad. Now is a situation where we are not going to compete in Europe, but it is a period we have to deserve next season. The opportunity is to win, and for that we need good players. Either you are good enough, but not because they will be easy to manage. I want players who can perform on the field and bring good things to help the team win. I don’t want people who are easy to manage, I want people who care and want to compete and can bring success.
You had a number in mind for the squad, is it small because of no European football?
You need 23,24, max 25 keeper included. We don’t need 30-35 players. We have to be right in how we choose the profile, and balance is most important. Sometimes you get the balance with less rather than more. It’s not that you can’t do it, the problem is players who aren’t going to play, where are they going to get the motivation. It won’t be easy for them at first, we can’t ask them to be happy every day, we can’t blame the players, we have to be strong in our decisions.
Are they a regular contender for Europe?
Of course. They play so well that they finished above us. They bring in good players with experience in the squad. I think it will be a tough team. Now is the time to build up the team so they can see young players playing and always better to win, but we are trying to develop.
A great season, great coach and also a great guy, we have a great relationship. He was fantastic what he did for Brighton last season. It will be exciting to meet them. We have good friends like Adam Lallana, who we know very well from Southampton.
Big weekend for football in America and Philly, Messi debut. How important is it for America to be a successful soccer country?
Now that’s the focus. I think it is important, the development of football. I think it is important, it is a sport that Messi’s arrival will now help to develop. Maybe it’s hard because it’s cultural. Football is improving and people are excited to watch matches. The whole tournament, the Premier League is doing a fantastic job here. Soccer will increase the demand in America, it is really important, the MLS market as we see in different countries, soccer is a great sport that can bring joy if not help people.
Hope you can pick up players while you’re here?
What do you think? As soon as possible of course. Every coach wants to close the squad as soon as possible. If that’s not possible, that’s no problem. I’m happy with how we work.
Many changes, Aubameyang on the way? An update?
No, nothing has changed. As I explained the other day. As you say, maybe for you it is a special situation, but I don’t think it affects us. We arrive in a new environment and we have the player we have and we are so happy. We have to improve the team, we are working on that.
Do you talk to individuals about it?
We are a coaching team that tries to care about all our areas. We try to help with our advice, we trust the staff that are here. We must add to our experience to try to be perfect.
Interesting to listen to Raheem there and his change of diet?
I also need to change my diet.
I will not name a captain before Liverpool. I need to see the reaction, how they react on and off the pitch. It’s time to rate everyone.
He is an important player for us. He can give us many different things. We are convinced that we can get the best from him.
What do you think makes a good leader? More responsibility on many?
My leadership is not necessarily one that talks a lot. When there are concerns, I will give my input. The most important thing for me is to lead on the pitch, to try to come up with things in difficult situations.
Want a cheesesteak?
I don’t know if we have days off. If one is on sale and looks good, why not?
Do you need some context in the club?
We are in a transition phase. Not always good to use the excuse, a lot happens internally, it’s all in the past and we have to focus on the future.
Reaction when Mauricio took over?
When I first headed, I think it was exciting, I know how difficult it is to play against your team. I knew he would be a coach that would bring what we needed. Having someone like him to lead us in the difficult last season would have been good.
You wanted to focus on recovery, how did you feel and what have you done?
Towards the end of the season I changed my diet, went to do something else and with extra weight I had some problems with my hamstring. Me and the manager made the decision together.
What was the dietary change?
Clean slate going into the season?
I wouldn’t say a clean slate. Just perform, perform at the level I can and that’s it.
I think it’s done on the training ground, around the hotel. Team morale is high and we just have to keep building.
Good to finish well last year?
Back to last season when I was in a position that I was familiar with, it was nice to be in. Actions I’ve made over the last couple of years.
Mauricio makes you run?
The most I’ve run in a long time. It is well. My position and at my best is to do these actions over and over again. It is well.
One of the more experienced players?
I wouldn’t necessarily say looking after younger boys, but more trying to do what I’ve always done. When match day comes, lead by example.
Here we go- biggest differences Raheem?
With many players going out, it is of course a younger team. A different feel to it.
Raheem Sterling first
He will then be followed by Pochettino.
Just another 10 minutes to wait for Pochettino.
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Thank you for attending what is sure to be an interesting press conference.