Poch defends ‘billion-pound bottle-jobs’ Chelsea

Mauricio Pochettino defended his team after Gary Neville’s description of Chelsea as “billion-pound bottle-jobs,” and said it is impossible to compare the Blues with Liverpool following their Carabao Cup final defeat at Wembley.

Virgil van Dijk‘s glancing header from Kostas Tsimikas‘ 118th-minute corner handed Liverpool a 1-0 win on Sunday despite Jurgen Klopp missing 11 first-team players through injury and relying on three teenagers to finish the game — the highest number in a League Cup final since 2007.

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Chelsea ended normal time strongly with Conor Gallagher, Christopher Nkunku and Cole Palmer all spurning late chances before dropping their level in the additional 30-minute period, prompting Neville in his role as a Sky Sports pundit to suggest that “in extra time it’s been Klopp’s kids against the blue, billion-pound bottle-jobs.”

The former Manchester United player’s jibe was in reference to the overall amount spent since Todd Boehly and Clearlake Capital bought the Blues in May 2022.

In response, Pochettino said: “I don’t hear what he said, but if you compare the age of the two groups, I think it is similar. But look, I have a good relationship with Gary and I don’t know how I can take this but I respect his opinion.

“Of course, we made a few changes like Gallagher and [Ben] Chilwell in extra time, but it is true we didn’t keep the energy that was how we finished in the second half. I don’t know how you can describe this situation, but for sure I feel proud of the players, I think they made a big effort.

“We are a young team and nothing to compare with Liverpool because they finished also with a few young players. It is impossible to compare and he knows that. He knows the dynamics are completely different. I think it is not fair to talk in this way if he says that.

“But we are going to keep strong and believing in this project and see what we can do in the future.”

The Carabao Cup was Chelsea’s best chance at silverware during a disappointing first season under Pochettino, with his side sitting 11th in the Premier League after 25 games. They are still alive, however, in the FA Cup, where they play a fifth-round tie against Leeds United on Wednesday.


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