Gary Neville: Chelsea are the blue billion-pound bottlejobs after Carabao Cup final defeat by Liverpool

February 25, 2024

Gary Neville described Chelsea as "Blue, billion-pound bottlejobs" as they were beaten in the Carabao Cup final by an injury-hit Liverpool.

Virgil van Dijk - who had seen an earlier goal controversially ruled out - headed in the winner in the final minutes of extra-time. Already deprived of the likes of Trent-Alexander Arnold, Mo Salah and Darwin Nunez, Liverpool won the final with a host of youngsters on the pitch.

Liverpool finished the final with two 19-year-olds in James McConnell (19) Bobby Clark (19), Harvey Elliott (20) and Jarell Quansah (21) all on the field. Conor Bradley (20) had started in defence.

In contrast, Chelsea fielded Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo - both of whom cost over £100m - in the centre of their midfield. Raheem Sterling (£50m) was in attack, while Mykhailo Mudryk, who cost £88.5m, and £52m Christopher Nkunku stepped off the bench.

Todd Boehly has spent over £1bn on players since taking charge of the club in the summer of 2022.

Neville said: "In extra-time it's been Klopp's kids against the blue, billion-pound bottlejobs.

"Liverpool have been absolutely sensational. Those young players have been incredible. Klopp must be so proud.

"However, for Chelsea, I have no sympathy for them whatsoever. Mauricio Pochettino's players have shrunk. They have shrunk right in front of our eyes and in front of their fans."

Sky Sports pundit Jamie O'Hara also castigated Chelsea: "Chelsea absolutely bottled it in extra-time. Pochettino, what an opportunity to win a trophy! Awful from his players.

"You've got a reserve team for Liverpool out there and they've played Chelsea off the park in extra-time for 30 minutes.

"I can't believe what I've seen. Chelsea miles off it in extra-time.

"Pochettino will be kicking himself. He'll have sleepless nights after this! He will not have a better chance to beat Liverpool in a final."

Neville: This will sting for Chelsea

Neville added: "Before the game, with Liverpool's injuries, you think Chelsea could have won. The Liverpool kids come on and you think they should win. But then there was just something holding you back because you couldn't see Jurgen Klopp watching Chelsea go up and lift the trophy.

"The Chelsea players will regret that extra-time for a long, long time. I thought they played quite well and punched hard in normal time. They were a little unlucky. But in the real crux of the game in extra time, where they had Liverpool by the scruff of the neck with those young kids, Chelsea didn't turn up. They didn't perform. You cannot do that.

"It was in half time of extra-time Pochettino had to get them in a huddle and try to rouse them. What was up with them?

"I'm really disappointed with Chelsea in that extra-time period. You can lose any final and you can lose any game of football, but you cannot play like that. You cannot shrink and go back, particularly when Liverpool had five kids on the pitch.

"They had to go for their throats."

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