Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino has urged his players to “enjoy” their EFL Cup semi-final against Middlesbrough as they seek their first piece of silverware since 2021.
The Blues come into the two-legged on the back of good form, having won four of their last five matches in all competitions.
But Pochettino‘s side were slow out of the blocks against Preston North end in the FA Cup at the weekend before eventually beating the Championship outfit 4-0.
The Argentine wants his squad to unburden themselves of the pressure of making their first major final in over two years.
“The most important thing is we need to enjoy the semi-final, not to feel like it’s compulsory for us to be in the final,” he said in his pre-match press conference.
“Football is not about that. You cannot play if you feel pressure and you don’t feel fresh in your mind.
“If you feel it’s compulsory (to win), always with some restriction – you need to take the semi-final as a great opportunity to enjoy playing football, performing well, running, being aggressive, being all together. Not to feel it’s compulsory to go to the final. You start to limit yourself.”
After a tough first half to the campaign Pochettino insisted Chelsea are still a process in the works and need time to become a cohesive unit.
He said: “One of the most important things is to create this chemistry between us (club staff). “We are maybe 120 people (at the club) seeing us every single day, it’s so important to work well together.
“And then the players, they need to trust. Always it’s a process. When there are so many new players on the team, in some ways it’s good, but it’s also about creating a chemistry. That is not easy. We need time.
“We don’t know if it’s two or three months, or six months or one season. We need to feel the trust, feel the confidence, to care for your team-mate. You are going to be there if something goes wrong.”