Mauricio Pochettino thanked Chelsea supporters for the reception given to Nicolas Jackson during the 2-1 home win against Crystal Palace, as the striker prepares to play for the final time before departing for the Africa Cup of Nations.
Pochettino takes his team to play Luton on Saturday lunchtime looking to build on Wednesday’s victory at Stamford Bridge and end a run of four consecutive away Premier League defeats.
Jackson was jeered by his own fans when he was substituted during the second half of the loss to Wolves on Christmas Eve, but recovered to give one of his more impressive performances for the club against Palace.
He had a goal disallowed for a fractional offside, finishing brilliantly on the volley from Axel Disasi’s cross, and showed good movement to get on the end of a pass from Conor Gallagher before shooting wide.
He also set up Mykhailo Mudryk in the first half with an intelligent back heel, but the Ukrainian’s effort was blocked by Palace goalkeeper Dean Henderson.
The manager emphasised that the 22-year-old Senegal international, who is the team’s top scorer with eight in all competitions, does not yet have the experience that previous Chelsea strikers brought with them when joining the club.
“(Against Palace) he was really good,” Pochettino. “He was only missing a goal. In the way he worked for team and ran and pressed, he was amazing.
“We are putting too much focus on him. We need to give him time, we need to believe in him. I think it was really nice the fans in the moment he missed the chances, they were very supportive. I really appreciate the fans that support him.
“Only with time he is going to be more relaxed and calm. Already he has scored goals, it’s not that he doesn’t score. If we check in the past, strikers that arrive at different clubs in England, if they can perform in the first season.
“We’re in months (since he joined), but (people) want that he score goals like (Didier) Drogba or (Jimmy Floyd) Hasselbaink. They came with different experience. You have to look at the background of the player. He’s young, came from Spain, not playing too much. He’s a very good prospect, amazing potential.
“Playing for Chelsea is not the same as playing for a different club, with all respect. The pressure is always when you took the ball to be fantastic.”
Pochettino said that he expected to play a role in any transfer business the club might conduct in January.
Previously targets have been selected by co-sporting directors Paul Winstanley and Laurence Stewart but the manager confirmed he will have a say over possible new recruits.
He has spoken in recent weeks about a possible need for reinforcements if results and performances do not improve.
“It’s obvious that a head coach or manager is going to be involved,” he said. “It’s crazy to think I won’t be involved in any decision for the future in my area.
“We are going share (opinions) with the owners and sporting director. I cannot conceive the idea of not being involved.”