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  • By Matthew Ferris at Cobham training ground

Chelsea boss Poch: I never look at Silva’s passport

By Matthew Ferris at Cobham


Mauricio Pochettino was adamant that his exclusion of Thiago Silva in Chelsea’s FA Cup 4th round replay was not a sign of things to come for the Brazilian.

The Blues lined up with Axel Disasi on the right side of defence and Benoit Badiashile on the left.

While Chelsea’s defence still predictably gave away some big chances for Aston Villa to squander, there was undoubtedly an extra bit of energy and mobility in the defensive display.

Of course, this is only natural; Silva turns 40 this year, and despite former head coach Thomas Tuchel once referring to him as Benjamin Button, he can only go on for so long and the Brazilian himself has already strongly hinted that it will be his last season at the club.

When asked whether Silva’s role will change between now and the end of the season, Pochettino said: “Why [would it change], nothing [has] happened.

“All the players are in the same position as him. We always assess after every single game the performance of the player and then we take a decision.”

The Argentine did not want to be drawn into making any negative comments about Silva, and ever the diplomat, he instead spoke about the importance of keeping balance to the team.

“I don’t look at the passport or the age of the player – I think it’s always about quality and how we can get the best balance for the team.”

He spoke of the injury issues that have plagued the Chelsea defence, and the different partnerships that they have had to create because of the continuous forced rotation.

Even if Pochettino may agree that slowly phasing out Thiago Silva would be beneficial in the long term, his decision to refrain from voicing an opinion to the media is a wise one.

Silva is a fan favourite at the Bridge. After signing what initially was meant to be a one-year contract under Frank Lampard back in 2020, the Brazilian is now quite unbelievably in his fourth season with the club.

He has been one of the mainstays of the team throughout all the different managerial reins, and the only regret about his signing was that it didn’t happen a lot sooner.

Whilst at points this season his lack of acceleration has been exposed, most recently against Wolves, he has also produced some brilliant performances and has still consistently featured in the Chelsea defence.

His age and natural decline of pace make him an easy scapegoat, but clearly Pochettino does not believe that he is one of the main problems.

Rather, he said that the problem is that “with 16 or 17 new players that arrived, we need to build a team and always I talk about a team…we need to be more consistent as a team.”

While initially he spoke about players like Silva, Raheem Sterling, and Christopher Nkunku providing some balance to what is a very young squad, Pochettino did admit that Chelsea’s league position shows that even more balance is needed.

“At the moment maybe it is not so good [the balance], because if not we could be in another position…it’s obvious.”

He was also asked about the young team that played on Wednesday night but said: “I’m not picking the team because they are young…I don’t want to be the coach that picks the youngest team in England.”

Pochettino was in a fighting mood in his press conference, and Chelsea fans should be buoyed by his defiance.

The club needs a manager with a backbone to oversee what is a major project, and the hierarchy will be hoping that the Aston Villa performance, as well as Pochettino’s fighting talk, is a sign that a corner has finally been turned.

 

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