Mauricio Pochettino expressed frustration that Chelsea’s injury problems are being unfairly ignored in assessments of his team’s poor performances this season.
The Argentinian has rarely had fewer than seven players unavailable to him during what has been at best a patchy campaign.
Results have fluctuated drastically and the last week has been a stark example, with Wednesday’s 3-1 win at Aston Villa in the FA Cup coming directly off the back of a 4-2 loss to Wolves at Stamford Bridge.
That defeat, the 10th of Pochettino’s 23 Premier League games in charge, left the team 11th in the table.
The manager is unhappy that the impact of absences on his team’s form is not being acknowledged by critics.
Chelsea could have as many as nine players out for Monday’s game away at Crystal Palace, with defender Benoit Badiashile the latest name added to the list after he was forced off with a groin problem against Villa.
Both he and Levi Colwill will be assessed ahead of the meeting at Selhurst Park, though Trevoh Chalobah could be in consideration after missing the entirety of the season so far.
Other players to have missed significant periods include summer signings Christopher Nkunku, who required surgery on a knee injury sustained in pre-season and was made to wait until December to make his debut, and Romeo Lavia, who has played just once since joining from Southampton.
Marc Cucurella, Robert Sanchez, Lesley Ugochukwu and captain Reece James are also out whilst Wesley Fofana, who the club paid £70million to sign from Leicester in 2022, has not played this season.
Ben Chilwell, Carney Chukwuemeka and Malo Gusto have also spent time out injured.
“The perception is one thing, but if you don’t have your best players, it’s difficult,” said Pochettino. “You’re judged on results, (but) circumstances are there. Always we play with different circumstances.
“When you only see the result, people criticise because you lose the game. But never you go into the analysis of why.
“Before, I was focusing on giving good information to (the media) to put it all in context, to provide the argument what is going on. But now, after seven months, I don’t say ‘I give up (with the media)’ but if people want to understand OK, if not (then) focus, move on and try to win games.
“After seven months, I need to still explain and explain and explain. Unless people want to listen, that’s it. I’m not going to spend too much energy in keeping going, explaining and explaining.
“If you want to understand, perfect. If you want to help Chelsea, perfect. I’m not saying you are helping me. It’s helping Chelsea.”
Pochettino offered his backing to under-fire Palace boss Roy Hodgson, with whom he has maintained a friendship during his years in the Premier League.
Hodgson was the England manager whilst Chelsea’s coach was at Southampton between 2013-14, with a number of Saints players called up to the national team in that period.
“Roy is my friend, I admire him,” said Pochettino. “He’s an unbelievable coach. When you lose one or two in a row, always arrives the pressure. No doubt he’s going to be successful with Palace.”