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Poch backs beaten Blues after Neville's 'bottle jobs' jibe
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Mark Mann-Bryans
Press Association
Mauricio Pochettino saw his Chelsea side suffer late heartache at Wembley
Mauricio Pochettino saw his Chelsea side suffer late heartache at Wembley

Mauricio Pochettino defended his players after Gary Neville labelled Chelsea "blue billion pound bottle jobs" following their Carabao Cup final loss to Liverpool.

Liverpool captain Virgil van Dijk's glancing header secured a 1-0 win for Jurgen Klopp's side, who were missing 11 injured players for the Wembley showpiece and relied on inexperienced youngsters to come on late in the game.

Chelsea had the likes of £100million midfielders Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo on the pitch and were able to turn to almost £150m worth of talent from their own bench.

After Van Dijk — who had controversially seen a header chalked off by VAR in normal time — headed in the winner, Sky Sports pundit Neville was scathing in his assessment.

He said: "In extra time, it has been Klopp's kids against the blue billion pound bottle jobs."

Pochettino, though, defended his stars and pointed to the age of his own players as a comparison to Liverpool's teenagers.

The Chelsea boss said: "I didn'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 [Conor] 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.

"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."

Pochettino, who has now lost the three major finals he has reached while managing in England at both Chelsea and Tottenham, told his squad they needed to feel hurt by the setback.

He said: "They need to feel the pain.

"We played for a trophy we didn't get and now, it is the same. What can you tell me to feel better? Nothing.

"They need to feel the pain like us and of course, they need to realise we need to work more, do better things, we need to improve."


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