Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has apologised to fans who were upset that many Blues players failed to go over and acknowledge them at the Riverside in the aftermath of the team’s Carabao Cup semi-final first leg defeat to Middlesbrough a fortnight ago.
Chelsea underwhelmed in the north east and lost the match 1-0, but will be aiming to overcome their Championship opponents in the second leg at Stamford Bridge on Tuesday night.
“I think we all need to learn,” Pochettino said. “If it was our mistake we need to apologise to our fans. I can understand our players. When you are so upset, you want to go inside to the dressing room and go home because you feel angry.
“But we need to recognise the effort of our fans and if we need to apologise I am the first one to apologise if they didn’t feel cared for.”
Chelsea have endured a miserable time on the pitch since Todd Boehly bought the club from Roman Abramovich in May 2022 and have failed to lift a trophy since winning the Club World Cup under Thomas Tuchel two years ago. But the Blues will book a showdown with either Liverpool or Fulham at Wembley if they can get the better of Boro on aggregate.
And Pochettino, who took charge of Chelsea last summer, has insisted Tuesday’s clash is his biggest one as Blues manager to date as he continued: “Yes, because it is access to the final. We need to be convincing if we are going to win. It is the opportunity to play in a final so it is the most important so far. There is pressure. But it is good pressure. I like this kind of challenge.
“We want to be in that situation and play in a semi-final but for Middlesbrough it is going to be tough also. They need to defend their 1-0 lead. We suffered some criticism after the first leg, which was good, and now it is the chance to be free and play and go and show the road to the final.”
And Pochettino added: “We need to send the first signal that we care. That’s about our attitude and our commitment. If the fans see this energy from the team they are going to be behind us.
“Some games were very good. Some games were a little bit flat. It’s normal because we started the season with massive expectations and it’s normal for the fans to feel a little bit disappointed. But this is a semi-final with the possibility to go to Wembley, so for sure our fans are really motivated to help the team reach the final.”