Mauricio Pochettino has stepped up to defend Mykhailo Mudryk after the Chelsea forward’s underwhelming display in their recent loss to West Ham United on Sunday.
Despite being a significant £88 million acquisition during the January transfer window, the 22-year-old Ukrainian failed to make a substantial impact after coming on as a halftime substitute for the injured Carney Chukwuemeka.
At the time of Mudryk’s entry into the game, Chelsea had been maintaining control and dominance over the match, with the score tied at 1-1.
Assigned an unusual No.10 role behind Nicolas Jackson, Mudryk was typically accustomed to operating from the left wing.
Regrettably, his performance in this new position fell short of expectations, leading to his relocation back to the wing in the second half.
During his time on the field, Mudryk had two clear opportunities to score, both of which were squandered, contributing to a frustrating offensive performance by Chelsea.
One instance saw him maneuver the ball onto his right foot in what appeared to be a promising shot attempt, only to lose his balance and fall.
Another chance, set up by Raheem Sterling’s delivery, resulted in a misguided volley that drew jeers from West Ham fans.
Dissatisfaction with Mudryk’s performance surfaced among Chelsea supporters on platforms like Reddit. One user expressed dwindling patience, stating, “I’ve lost my patience with him. I’ll still support his success, but I can’t defend this purchase anymore.”
Another commenter indicated potential future setbacks for Mudryk if improvements aren’t swift, saying, “If he doesn’t improve ASAP, he’ll likely be shipped out next year (probably on loan). Pochettino was right not to start him, and I don’t think he deserves to be a sub.”
Mudryk, who arrived during the January transfer window amid high expectations, initially impressed with a brief appearance in a goalless draw against Anfield.
However, his subsequent performances have not met the same standard. Despite 19 appearances across various competitions, he is yet to secure his first competitive goal for Chelsea.
Pochettino has opted to deploy Mudryk as a substitute in both of Chelsea’s initial matches this season.
The Argentine coach attributed the player’s struggles to the need for time to acclimate, expressing confidence in Mudryk’s potential in a Chelsea jersey: “He has enormous quality and talent; it’s only a matter of time for him to better integrate with the team and perform as we anticipate.”
Following a lackluster showing against West Ham, Mudryk may find himself in the starting lineup for the forthcoming match against Luton Town.
With Chukwuemeka sidelined due to injury and Christopher Nkunku out for months, Chelsea is grappling with limited attacking options.
Although the club continues its pursuit of an additional forward in the transfer market, sources suggest Mudryk may seize the opportunity to start in the Luton clash at Stamford Bridge on Friday night.