June 22, 2024

We all know the old saying: “When life gives you lemons, use them to eradicate the negative energy affecting your lavishly expensive sports team.”

Actually, it might have been something about making lemonade, but new Chelsea head coach Mauricio Pochettino believes that lemons serve a much grander purpose.

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He keeps a large box of them in his office at the Premier League club’s training ground in Cobham, south of London, having begun doing so several years ago on the advice of a friend. It is a manifestation of his broader spiritual belief in “energia universal”, a higher form of energy that people can connect with and even harness if they open their minds.

Lemons have been bestowed with a wide range of symbolic and spiritual meanings and utilities in cultures around the world over the centuries.

They are considered a sacred fruit in the Hindu faith. Elsewhere, they have been used to ward off evil spirits. And you can also cut them in half and put them in your refrigerator to help avoid unwanted odours. They have been credited with healing and purification properties, and it has even been claimed they spark positive energy, inspiration, personal growth, prosperity, luck and love. It is unclear at this time whether they can heal muscle or serious ligament injuries.

Pochettino adheres to the belief they can soak up negative energy like a sponge from their surroundings, and even the people who visit his office.

He was also known to keep a tray of lemons on his desk while Tottenham Hotspur manager and tends to replace them every 10 days, or sometimes sooner, as they apparently become contaminated with all the bad vibes they have absorbed.

Pochettino talks Conor Gallagher and Levi Colwill through his thinking (Darren Walsh/Chelsea FC via Getty Images)

There has been precious little evidence of their positive impact in his brief Chelsea reign so far.

The club have won only one of Pochettino’s first six Premier League matches in charge and are 14th in the 20-team Premier League despite advanced data suggesting performances have been markedly better than results. There is also an injury crisis at Cobham, with nine senior players sidelined.

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But when asked during a press conference last week if this deeply underwhelming start to the season — despite owners Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital committing more than £1billion ($1.2bn) in transfer fees for new players over the past year — had shaken his belief in the power of lemons, Pochettino remained bullish.

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“They started to work after two years at Tottenham,” he said. “Give time to the lemons. It is a thing that we all believe. If you want to have good energy, you need to implement all the things that you believe.

“I believe in the lemons, but at Tottenham they started to work after one and a half, two years. They need a long time, they are not magic, but more than ever I still believe in them.

“Today in my office, I have yellow ones, green ones… different types, from Spain, from Italy. I don’t want to lie, there is a big box of lemons. I always thought the yellow lemons worked much better than the green but now I believe in any colour — any colour can help. If I could get a blue lemon (to match Chelsea’s kit), it would be even better.”

In keeping with the philosophical tone of the press conference, journalists present asked whether a green lemon is simply a lime. Pochettino, however, dismissed that notion. “A lime is not a lemon,” he insisted. “It is a brother, maybe with a different mother or different father.”

A compelling riposte, but perhaps the bigger question for Pochettino to ponder is whether Chelsea’s owners and supporters can tolerate the bitter taste left by his team’s struggles long enough for his lemons to have their desired effect.

(Top photos: Getty Images)

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