LONDON: Under-fire Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino says the club's owners are welcome to visit the dressing room -- as long as they leave the talking to him.
Chelsea co-owner Behdad Eghbali went into the Stamford Bridge dressing room on Sunday after a 1-0 defeat against Aston Villa extended their woeful start to the Premier League season.
Eghbali is not the only member of Chelsea's hierarchy to have entered the team's inner sanctum -- co-owner Todd Boehly and co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart have also paid visits.
With Pochettino under scrutiny following Chelsea's run of one win from their first six league games, Eghbali's appearance in the dressing room was interpreted as a sign the pressure is mounting on the Blues manager just weeks into his reign.
But the Argentine boss said he was happy to see Chelsea’s powerbrokers sharing in the team’s “suffering”.
“I like when the owners come -- in all my career as a coach, at Espanyol then Southampton, Tottenham and Paris Saint-Germain also, before and after,“ Pochettino told reporters on Tuesday.
“It’s good that the owners came to the dressing room. It’s in the way that they approach the players that is the most important. If they are in a good way, I think they’re very welcome.”
Last season, Boehly reportedly told Chelsea’s players their season was “embarrassing” during his dressing room speech after a home defeat against Brighton towards the end of a miserable campaign.
But there was apparently no repeat after the Villa game, with Pochettino adamant that it was up to him or the captain to address the players.
“It’s not a job of the owner to come to the dressing room and give some speech after the game,“ he said. “But they know very well how they need to behave.”
Chelsea are languishing in 14th place in the league, just four points above the relegation zone, and Wednesday's League Cup third-round tie against in-form Brighton might not offer any respite for Pochettino.
European champions just two years ago, big-spending Chelsea have made their worst start to a season for 45 years.
Boehly ruthlessly axed Pochettino's predecessors Thomas Tuchel and Graham Potter last season when results dipped.
But Pochettino struck a positive note, saying his injury-hit team are still a work in progress.
“Every single football person in this country sees Chelsea deserve more but we have missed (scoring) goals, the most important thing in football. We cannot forget that,“ he said.
“We need to get criticised, of course, because we are not winning games but we need to keep being strong in the belief.
“It’s not worse than I thought. We always knew the new project is difficult.” - AFP