Chelsea’s ‘blue billion-pound bottlejobs’ blew it – they could not beat a team of kids

Chelsea's players are dejected as Liverpool celebrate at the final whistle at Wembley

It is going to take some time for Chelsea to shake off the “blue billion-pound bottlejobs” tag bestowed upon them by Gary Neville – however unfair Mauricio Pochettino might think it is.

Chelsea blew the best chance they will have for some time to end the club’s Wembley final curse and head coach Pochettino is still waiting to lift his first trophy in England.

Much has been made about the average age of Chelsea’s young squad, but at Wembley, it was Klopp’s kids who came through the test of character.

It is now six consecutive Wembley finals that Chelsea have lost, with the latest watched by co-owners Behdad Eghbali and Todd Boehly, who have spent over £1 billion on Pochettino’s squad.

Neville was typically blunt in his assessment on Sky Sports, saying: “In extra-time it’s been Klopp’s kids against the blue, billion-pound bottlejobs. 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.”

Asked about the label given to his team by Neville, Pochettino said: “I didn’t hear what he said but if you compare the age of the two groups, I think it’s similar. I have a good relationship with Gary. I respect his opinion.

“Of course, we made a few changes like [Conor] Gallagher and [Ben] Chilwell in extra-time, but it’s true we didn’t keep the energy how we finished the second half.

“But I feel proud of the players, they made a big effort. We are a young team and there is nothing to compare with Liverpool because they finished with a few young players. He knows the dynamics are completely different. I think it’s not fair to talk in this way.”

Pochettino said his players must now “feel the pain” of this final defeat and prove they can come again, but there was little on show at Wembley to suggest they have the steel to do so.

Caicedo and Fernandez disappeared

Chelsea’s £220 million central midfield of Moises Caicedo and Enzo Fernandez simply disappeared in extra-time, when they should have run the game.

Caicedo turned down Liverpool to join Chelsea, but it was the man the Reds signed for £100million less, Endo Wataru, who kept his composure on the big stage. Caicedo could easily have been sent-off in the first half for a challenge that forced Ryan Gravenberch out of the game and was caught in possession too many times.

Fernandez – a World Cup winner with Argentina remember – offered almost nothing defensively and simply ran out of steam.

Axel Disasi, so good against Manchester City, looked like Bambi on ice from almost minute one. Three times he gave chances to Liverpool and three times he got away with it.

Given how badly he had played, the central defender had some front to give Mykhailo Mudryk a rollocking after Virgil van Dijk had headed the winner. Sure, Mudryk could have done more, but leadership is taking responsibility – as Van Dijk demonstrated – not blaming others.

Every time Jurgen Klopp threw on another kid, Chelsea seemed to feel the weight of pressure on their shoulders increase and they crumbled. It is a concern that Pochettino admitted his team started to play for penalties, when it really should have been Liverpool hanging on.

“The players felt disappointed because they were so close to winning after 90 minutes,” he said. “They started to lose energy, some started to feel really, really tired.

“We needed to change Gallagher and Chilwell, and the team started to feel the penalties would be good for us. I cannot blame or say nothing, I think the effort was massive. I am happy with the effort. Now we have to feel the pain and keep moving.”

The only two Chelsea players to come out of the final with any real credit were goalkeeper Djordje Petrovic, who made an incredible save from Harvey Elliott, and Levi Colwill, who produced one outstanding block.

Conor Gallagher played well in midfield, but he will remember this final for the chances he missed to win it, while Raheem Sterling may be thinking what might have been if his goal had not been disallowed.

But, however harsh his wording, Neville was essentially right. Chelsea blew it.