Sunday Sport


Gusto: Boss is starting to make us winners


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 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 £ 30.7m 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.”

Meanwhile, Liverpool midfielder Wataru Endo believes victory in the Carabao Cup final will provide the extra energy required to maintain their challenge on three other fronts.


Sunday’s meeting is a repeat of the Reds’ 2022 encounter with Chelsea at Wembley which Jurgen Klopp’s side won 11- 10 on penalties with only one player – goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabala­ga – missing.

However, only four of that Liverpool XI are likely to be in this weekend’s team – Mohamed Salah would be a fifth but is currently doubtful with a minor issue after making his comeback from a hamstring problem at Brentford – as a result of some high- profile departures and a raft of injuries.

The extent of the injury crisis

was laid bare in Wednesday’s 4- 1 win over Luton, in which Klopp named a bench with three defenders and four academy players.

But Endo said nothing gives players a boost like winning a trophy and for a large number of the Reds’ team – the Japan internatio­nal included – Sunday will be their first chance at the club.

“If we could win this first one I think it would have a really positive impact on the other competitio­ns we’re competing in,” said the £ 16m summer buy.

“Winning at Wembley would give us extra energy for the challenges ahead. I’m so excited to play there.

“It will be my first time at such a special stadium.

“It would mean a lot to me. It would be my first title with Liverpool and I’m focused on doing everything I can to help the team win the final.

“The manager has spoken to us about staying positive and needing to show that we are

Liverpool. We did that against Luton.

“We don’t think too much about injured players, we just focus on the next game in front of us.”

Sunday is the first significan­t milestone in Klopp’s long goodbye after he announced his decision to leave at the end of the season.


Endo was away at the Asian Cup when the news broke but the 31- year- old, who has proved his critics wrong after being viewed as an emergency stop- gap holding midfielder, is keen to repay the manager’s faith.

“I was sad to hear about that. I really enjoy playing for him and playing football the way he plays,” he said.

“It’s disappoint­ing but I really want us to achieve titles for him before he goes.

“I’ve only played for Jurgen for one season. Others have been here a lot longer so maybe they have more emotion but he has helped me so much.”

 ?? ??
 ?? ?? EMOTIONAL: Endo with team- mate Konate
POINTING THE WAY: Pochettino and Gusto
EMOTIONAL: Endo with team- mate Konate POINTING THE WAY: Pochettino and Gusto

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from United Kingdom