‘Really good’ Chelsea fans give Mauricio Pochettino treats while walking his dog

Mauricio Pochettino insisted he has received positive feedback from Chelsea supporters on the work he is doing at Stamford Bridge, but only while he has been out walking his dog.

The Argentinian has regular 90-minute outings with his Rhodesian Ridgeback, Sansa, during which he said he has enjoyed frank exchanges with fans about the state of the club across what has been a difficult first season in charge.

And much of the word has been positive, helped he believes by a more relaxed setting where he is able to give a more genuine account of himself than sometimes comes across in the media.

“When I am on the street the people are really good and appreciate,” he said. “They give us the credit (for) working in a project and a process that is so difficult.

“People that understand football know what is going on here and appreciate our commitment and the way that we behave, and support our decisions that we are taking.

“Sometimes I meet the fans in different places and they ask me. I can tell the truth.

“Sometimes the fans get some image that is not real. It’s in the way that (the media) sometimes takes my words, or the photographer sometimes takes me sad, but I am not sad. I laugh a lot, I smile, I am very positive. I am not acting. I try to be natural.

“Sometimes people get the wrong idea. But if you face me on the street, for sure you (will know).”

Chelsea are ninth in the table and require a strong finish if they are to end their season-long absence from European competition.

A win at home to Pochettino’s former club Tottenham on Thursday night would see them move to within three points of sixth-placed Manchester United with four games to play, likely to be the necessary threshold for reaching the Europa League.

Despite a turbulent campaign that has seen them concede more goals than any previous Premier League campaign, it is likely they will qualify for at least the Europa Conference League if they take close to maximum points on the run-in.

After Spurs, they welcome West Ham to Stamford Bridge on Sunday before away games at Nottingham Forest and Brighton, finishing up at home to Bournemouth.

Victory over Ange Postecoglou’s side will see the Blues climb to their highest league position since New Year’s Day 2023 when a 1-1 draw at home to Forest left them eighth.

It would also emphasise the maddening nature of Chelsea’s inconsistencies.

Their longest unbeaten league run in more than 18 months was ended by a 5-0 hammering by Arsenal in late April during which they were accused by away fans inside the Emirates Stadium of lacking fight, but they recovered days later to respond from two goals down to earn a draw at Champions League-chasing Aston Villa.

Pochettino was asked whether after recent results he finally felt ‘more Chelsea than Spurs’.

“We cannot compare nearly six years with 10 months,” he said.

Asked whether he felt there was still work to do, he replied: “Yes. I hope, yes.”