Poch slams Chelsea kids’ pen feud: ‘Can’t happen’

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A 6-0 win — including a four-goal night by one of his star players in Cole Palmer — should have left Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino with no issues following the game.

But that was far from the case, as the Argentine coach took his team to task for an incident regarding who would take a penalty kick in the second half with Chelsea already up 4-0 on Everton on Monday night at Stamford Bridge.

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Captain Conor Gallagher had to intervene to shove away Nicolas Jackson and Noni Madueke as they squabbled for the ball after the latter was brought down in the box. Gallagher secured the ball then handed it to Palmer, the team’s designated penalty taker.

“The players and staff know that Cole Palmer is the penalty taker,” said a furious Pochettino after the game. “I am so, so upset about the situation. Discipline is the most important thing in our team.

“We all agree they [Jackson and Madueke] were wrong. They are not experienced players. They are young. It was very good the reaction by Conor Gallagher [to defuse things].”

“We can’t show that type of behaviour,” he continued. “It’s like we are in a school, and our job is to show them they were wrong so they can learn. There will be no punishment, but this can’t happen again. If Palmer is on the pitch, he is the penalty taker.”

Pochettino went on to apologize for the incident and the “bad image” of the club that it presented.

Palmer calmly slotted home the penalty — bringing his tally to a perfect 9-for-9 from the spot this season — to make it 5-0 and move alongside Manchester City’s Erling Haaland at the top of the Premier League scoring charts with 20. The goal also brought Palmer’s tally in all competitions to 23 as he became the first Chelsea player to reach 20 since Eden Hazard in 2018-19.

“He was a player always with the capacity to score when at Manchester City, but I think the way he has adapted himself is fantastic,” Pochettino said of Palmer. “He is amazing for the team, for him, and he is showing that the club made the right decision in signing him.

“Overall, I am happy with the performance. We showed a different approach than against Sheffield United [a 2-2 draw last Sunday]. We improved in different areas, and today was the perfect game.”

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With Chelsea, who have struggled all season in Pochettino’s return to England, finally rounding into form and chasing the European places in the Premier League, the former Tottenham Hotspur coach said it was time for his team to grow up and learn from its mistakes.

“It’s impossible after a performance like this to have this type of behavior that shows that we are in a process, and we will learn a lot,” Pochettino added. “We are a great team fighting for big things. We need to change and think more in a collective way.

“I thought we behaved like kids today. When this happens, we need to learn and learn quick. Perform like today but behave much better.”

The result keeps Chelsea in ninth place on 47 points but only trailing the teams in front of them by three and with games in hand as they look to move up the table before the season finale on May 19.

Information from Reuters was used in this story.

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