Ahead of last weekend’s 3-2 victory over Nottingham Forest, the 52-year-old – who is set to meet with the owners and sporting directors to assess the team’s progress after their final Premier League game – appeared to suggest he could walk away from Stamford Bridge at the end of the campaign.

Only the division’s top three have collected more points than Pochettino’s side since they were beaten by Wolves on Christmas Eve, a run which has thrust them into contention to qualify for next season’s Europa League.

Asked about his future beyond the end of the season, he said: “We are planning. We are working. We cannot take some comment from my side (ahead of the Forest game) in a negative way. Always I try to be positive and try to translate my feelings to the people.

“I never said I’m not thinking in the future. Already the plan is there to start pre-season. In the end, it’s not in my hands to be here or not to be here.”

The Argentinian has come under fire from sections of supporters during the season as the team has taken time to settle and find form, but he insisted he intends to win over any remaining doubters.

“We (the coaching staff) are not fake people,” he said. “We are not going to say we love something when we still don’t have an emotional link. It’s easy for me to arrive and after the first game start to kiss the badge. I respect the people that can do this, but it’s not my nature. I want to create real feelings.”

Chelsea’s improvement in recent months has been stark. Having picked up 22 points from their first 18 matches, they have gathered 35 in the 18 since, and despite their poor start, victories against Brighton on Wednesday and Bournemouth on the final day will be highly likely to earn them a European place.

After a season ravaged by injury, Pochettino is close to having a full squad to select from, with Ben Chilwell and Carney Chukwuemeka the latest players who could return to the bench for the game at the Amex Stadium.

Enforced absences were a contributing factor as an inexperienced squad struggled to find form early in the campaign, forcing the manager to depend on young players who were yet to find their feet in senior football.

“The problem is we are punished because of the first 10 games,” said Pochettino. “After our first 10 games I think we are in the top four. That’s the problem. We’re punished because of the first 10 games.

“Right now (the conversation is) stuck, like the Coldplay song. Stuck in reverse. Stuck and going back. You remember the song? ‘Fix You’.

“From now on, I’m going to stop talking about a young squad and injuries. I hope next season we can have all the players fit and be competitive, to fight between them for a place and (show they) deserve to be in the starting XI. I am dreaming of that.”