Mauricio Pochettino is ‘waking up’ winning mentality at Chelsea – Malo Gusto

By Sports Desk February 23, 2024

Malo Gusto believes Mauricio Pochettino is “waking up” a winning mentality in Chelsea’s young squad as they prepare for Sunday’s Carabao Cup final.

The Argentinian’s resurgent team face Liverpool at Wembley looking to claim the club’s first silverware since co-owner Todd Boehly took over in May 2022.

In that time there has been an almost total overhaul of personnel both on the pitch and behind the scenes, with over £1billion spent on assembling a team with the youngest average age in the Premier League.

After a slow start there was been notable improvement in recent weeks, culminating in a fine performance in ending champions Manchester City’s winning run at home with a 1-1 draw on Saturday.

However, Pochettino and his players are yet to convince everyone. The team were booed off by fans following their last home game, a 4-2 defeat to Wolves at Stamford Bridge, with supporters’ frustrations also being directed at the manager personally.

Sunday’s final could be a key indicator as to whether a corner has truly been turned following the City draw and impressive wins away at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace.

And defender Gusto – a key figure during the recent upturn in results, deputising at right-back for injured captain and England international Reece James – praised his manager for working to instil a winning attitude.

“He (Pochettino) is here for this,” said the 20-year-old. “He knows he has to wake up our mentality, to wake up our desire to win everything. We are Chelsea and a big club like Chelsea has to win everything, to keep fighting.

“He helps us a lot. He has tried to show us the desire to win, to keep fighting against every team. He talks to us a lot about tactics, technique and everything.

“He is a good person as well. He tries to help us a lot on the pitch and off it as well. He is a good coach for this young team.”

Gusto has been one of the outstanding performers of Chelsea’s recent recruits.

Signed from Lyon for £30.7million in January 2023, he was loaned back to the Ligue 1 side for remainder of last season before making his mark during the current campaign.

He has made 24 appearances in all competitions, after a recurring hamstring injury limited James to just nine.

A forward player in his youth, he has evolved into an effective attacking full-back and he has made four assists in the league, most recently setting up Conor Gallagher’s equaliser in the 3-1 win at Palace with a pinpoint low cross.

He made his senior debut for France as a substitute in a 2-1 win against the Netherlands in October.

He said he was not daunted by the prospect of dislodging James from the team before signing for Chelsea, adding: “I wasn’t thinking about what could happen. I just wanted to take my chance.

“If I can play, I play. I’ve stayed focus on my football. I work every day to become better, to improve. That’s what I do.

“We are not similar, (James) and me. He’s a bit different, but when we are on the pitch we try to keep a mentality to score and to assist.

“I work for (getting better going forward). I have good cardio, good legs. This is my football. When I was younger, I was the same, running every day. When your team-mates see you run a lot, you want to run a lot with them.”

The defender came in for particular praise for the way he dealt defensively with City’s Jeremy Doku during Saturday’s draw at the Etihad Stadium.

“I came to Chelsea because I wanted to play against great players. I think the game was complicated, but it was good for me to learn.

“(The praise) is nice, but I don’t really care about it, I just want to to become a better person and better player.

“The game against Doku, people talk about it, but it’s just one game. Maybe this weekend I could be s*** and the game after I could be better.”

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