CHELSEA manager Mauricio Pochettino has forced the law on his big-money stars and urged them to prove their worth.
Poch has to put together a bloated squad after Todd Boehly’s wild first year as owner, which has included £606million in signings and a revolving door of managers.
And the Argentine tactician has warned £106m world champion Enzo Fernandez, £47.5m Raheem Sterling and Mykhailo Mudryk – who signed an £88m deal in January – on promotion after poor starts.
Pochettino said: “Now is a fresh start, a fresh start and they have to show their true quality.
“We have to give them a chance to show they can take the pressure at Chelsea and compete with the best.
“We can’t just blame the players, we have to see what’s going on and why they aren’t performing as we expect.
“Once everything is clear, we can’t give them any excuses not to perform.”
When Chelsea eyed Arsenal to sign 22-year-old Mudryk, it was hailed as a major coup – but the Ukraine winger failed to score and managed just two assists in 17 games.
Pochettino said: “I will meet him before he starts pre-season.
“I would really like to get to know him and design the best strategy with the team that will help him reach the level expected from Chelsea.”
Fernandez, 22, became a record British signing after helping Argentina win the world championship.
But his season came to an end with the Blues finishing 12th in the Prem, and Poch said: “It was the circumstances – he came from Argentina to Portugal, from Portugal to the World Cup and from the World Cup to England and never stopped for 18 on months.
“He’s full of energy, but the boys also need rest and a clear mind.
“He needs to learn something about the Premier League. It changed everything – culture, language – and it’s difficult to adapt.”
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Former Manchester City star Sterling, 28, was Chelsea’s top scorer last season but his tally of nine goalscorers, including just six in the league, summed up the struggles he and the club had for the goal.
Pochettino said: “We’re talking about a really good player.
“But sometimes, due to the circumstances at a football club, it’s not easy for a player to adapt quickly and perform in the same way as at the other club.
“We have to reduce the number of people in the squad because it was so big. People have to find their place on the training ground, then in training, then in the team.”
That’s quite literally the case, as last year there were so many stars at Cobham’s training ground that they couldn’t fit into a dressing room or all take a seat at team briefings.
Chelsea have worked hard to sign players but the futures of strikers Romelu Lukaku, 30, and Pierre-Emerick Aubameyang, 34, remain uncertain.
Some of ex-boss Graham Potter’s trainers are still at the club and the search for a shirt sponsor continues after fan protests scuttled a deal with a gambling company.
There are still a lot of problems buzzing around like flies at Stamford Bridge, not wanting to leave Pochettino alone while he was talking.
But for now, the former Spurs boss is taking the stance of Bob The Builder: ‘Can we fix this?’ Yes we can!’
Poch added: “I’m not worried – or maybe unconsciously!
“Various circumstances in recent years have brought the club into this situation. That’s why we’re here – to try to make things right.
“I think we will find the tools to create a very competitive team with a chance to win.”
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