Source: CNN

As the old adage goes, “a picture is worth a thousand words.” However, these days, perhaps an emoji is worth more.

Chelsea’s players have been full of praise for departed manager Mauricio Pochettino, who somewhat surprisingly left his position by mutual consent on Tuesday after only 11 months in the job.

Pochettino had been under pressure for much of the season due to Chelsea’s erratic form, but there had been signs of improvement towards the end of the campaign.

Chelsea produced five straight wins to finish sixth and secure a Europa League football place, a huge improvement on last season’s 12th-place finish. Pochettino also took Chelsea to the League Cup final, where it lost to Liverpool, and the semifinals of the FA Cup.

“On behalf of everyone at Chelsea, we would like to express our gratitude to Mauricio for his service this season,” sporting directors Laurence Stewart and Paul Winstanley said in a statement.

“He will be welcome back to Stamford Bridge any time and we wish him all the very best in his future coaching career.”

Chelsea has spent more than $1 billion on player transfers since American businessman Todd Boehly bought the club in 2022 – including around $500 million last summer after Pochettino was appointed – but that investment has yielded mixed results so far.

The majority of the players Chelsea have purchased in the Boehly era have been young and inexperienced, while key senior players – including César Azpilicueta, N’Golo Kanté, Mateo Kovačić and Mason Mount – left before the season started.

Despite Chelsea’s rollercoaster season, Pochettino clearly remained well-liked among the squad, with several players expressing their thanks to the Argentine, as well as surprise at his departure.

“Love you coach. Wish we could stay together more,” striker Nicolas Jackson wrote on Instagram, followed by a facepalm emoji, which followed three more facepalm emojis in a previous post.

“But may God continue to bless you and your family. Thanks for the advices and support, you’re a true lion and a fighter, wish you all the best.”

Chelsea’s British record signing Moises Caicedo said it had been “a pleasure” to work with Pochettino, accompanied by a sad emoji.

“I wish you all the best for the future!” the Ecuadorian wrote. “What a person and what a coach.”

Cole Palmer, undoubtedly the most successful transfer under Boehly so far, enjoyed a spectacular first season at Chelsea after arriving from Manchester City, being named the Premier League’s Young Player of the Year.

“Gaffer, thank you for everything you have done for me & making my dreams come true,” Palmer wrote on Instagram. “All the best.”

Defender Marc Cucurella posted his message beneath three shocked emojis. “Thanks for everything Mister. Good luck in the future,” he wrote.

In a statement, Pochettino thanked Chelsea’s owners for “the opportunity to be part of this football club’s history.”

“The Club is now well positioned to keep moving forward in the Premier League and Europe in the years to come,” he said.

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