Football News

Scoring milestone would reward Mauricio Pochettino for his Nicolas Jackson patience

By Mohamed Moallim

Published: 13:30, 14 May 2024

Earlier in the season, Mauricio Pochettino came to Nicolas Jackson’s defence following his poor display against Brentford, which feels light years away with the Chelsea forward on the cusp of an impressive Premier League milestone.

Striker-turned-pundit Alan Shearer criticized the 22-year-old former Villarreal player for his “complete lack of movement.” He further emphasized that “goalscorers don’t hang around on the edge of the box like he does” since their primary role is to be in a position to find the net.

Early into his Chelsea tenure, Pochettino saw the analysis on Match of the Day, and while conceding some of the criticism was fair, he felt it wasn’t right to make judgments based on a single game.

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The meeting against Thomas Frank’s men was Jackson’s ninth league appearance for the Blues, netting two goals. Having joined last summer, the Senegalese international wasn’t expected to lead Chelsea’s attack, but a pre-season injury sustained by Christopher Nkunku accelerated Jackson into an important role in Pochettino’s starting lineup.

Incredibly enough, Jackson’s next outings saw him bag an incredible hat-trick against London rivals Tottenham, in which he attempted no fewer than six shots on goal with five on target. However, across his following twelve Premier League outings, Jackson registered two goals, which preceded an incredible run of form he’s currently enjoying.

Heading into Chelsea’s penultimate match of the 2023/24 season, Jackson has scored seven goals in his last eleven Premier League appearances while creating three more. Interestingly, before enjoying this purple patch, Pochettino discussed Jackson’s development and the role he undertakes in his team.

“Nico’s 22 years old, he has arrived from a different country and a different league and everyone has put responsibility on him to score goals,” he opened.

“For me, he is doing fantastic. I really appreciate his effort. He is very tough and plays football with maturity in the way that he accepts and deals with the pressure. You can see a player who fights, runs and wants the ball even when he has asked for the ball and made a mistake.

“He never gives up. He is scoring goals. If we see him in his first season here in England, I think he is doing well. Better maybe than people think – much better. We are not at the top and it is difficult to say that he is fantastic, but that has happened with the whole team.”

No stranger to coaching Europe’s elite forwards, Pochettino revealed that Jackson has been studying notes from other forwards as he develops his own game. He said: “Jackson loves to watch different strikers and he is in the process of learning. He is very humble to listen and accept when we show him different strikers and advise him on the game.

“It’s always like this – it’s a process to learn. From the beginning, they listen to us and when they start to score goals – the same happened with Harry Kane – and then when they become 30 they teach you. Of course, Jackson is, for me, doing well and he is in the process of learning.

“I have shown him strikers in the Premier League for him to see how they behave. All the strikers, like Gabriel Batistuta, Didier Drogba, [Jimmy Floyd] Hasselbaink – big players, experienced players.”

The process has undoubtedly paid off, as mentioned with Jackson’s output since March began. Furthermore, Jackson has been directly involved in five goals in his last three Premier League games for Chelsea (four goals and one assist), as many as in his previous 11 such games (three goals and two assists).

Indeed, with 14 league goals already this term, none of which have been penalties, he could be the first player for the Blues to score 15 non-penalty goals in a Premier League season since Tammy Abraham in 2019-20.