Liverpool’s ‘severely depleted kids’ beat even younger Chelsea side with almost as many injuries

Editor F365
Gary Neville, Liverpool defender Virgil van Dijk and Chelsea manager Mauricio Pochettino
Gary Neville set the tone for some wonderful Carabao Cup final coverage

Liverpool overcame an injury crisis and the subsequent use of ‘kids’ to taste Wembley glory. Full-strength Chelsea’s notoriously old squad bottled it.


The kids are alright
Fair play to Gary Neville for coming up with a commentary line so iconic it captured the very essence of the 2024 Carabao Cup final and set the narrative for any and all discourse surrounding it.

“Klopp’s kids against the blue billion-pound bottle-jobs” is how the game will forever be remembered, despite the 15 players Chelsea used having a lower average age (23.5) and median age (23) than the 17 who featured for Liverpool (24 for both average and median age).

Mediawatch understands the wider context around most of Liverpool’s youth being academy-developed and the majority of Chelsea’s being assembled at great expense, but it feels important to point out when that is pretty much the only angle anyone uses when writing about the events which unfolded at Wembley.

‘But what a damning indictment for Chelsea whose £1billion pound squad could not beat injury-hit Liverpool. Todd Boehly’s bottle jobs beaten by Liverpool’s kids,’ writes John Cross in the Daily Mirror, before noting that the Reds ‘had ten players missing through injury’.

READ MORELiverpool’s Carabao Cup glory is a true underdog story after ‘perfect’ final

Liverpool are indeed in the grips of an injury crisis which was worsened during and after their victory, but Chelsea were hardly without their own issues. They have had similar problems throughout the season and eight players were sidelined on Sunday, including by far their most senior and experienced player. The impact of Thiago Silva’s absence was only underlined by the brilliant leadership of Virgil van Dijk. They were and are just as ‘injury-hit’; Liverpool just did and have dealt with it far better.

Oliver Holt picks up that baton, keeps his head down and sprints towards the sunset in the Daily Mail, slamming Chelsea’s ‘collection of record signings and extravagant busts and individuals who fit all the number-crunchers’ algorithms but do not play as a team,’ while praising the ‘bunch of kids and a couple of giants’ who shone for Liverpool.

No real point citing those median and average ages again, is there?

Kids so young that Alan Shearer remarked he had played against the dads of some of them. Kids who made this look like the team Liverpool might turn out in the FA Youth Cup. Kids who stepped up when their club needed them.

Yep. They fielded quite a few young players. So did Chelsea, even if Alan Shearer never played against Levi Colwill’s dad. Yet the Blues were apparently not similarly inexperienced – they were ‘World Cup winners and walking pay-packets on the other team’.

Fun facts: Liverpool fielded as many World Cup winners as Chelsea; and they rank fifth and fourth respectively for highest Premier League wage bills.

There follows a great many references to Liverpool being ‘severely depleted’ and no such mention of Chelsea’s injury issues, with 14 uses of the word ‘kids’ to describe the older of the two teams.

And then there is Chris Bascombe writing in the Daily Telegraph of a ‘circumstance-defying’ win for his beloved Liverpool.

‘For so long it seemed like the football Gods were smiling on Chelsea,’ he says, hailing Van Dijk for channelling Steven Gerrard and ‘refusing to accept the logic that his side would be beaten by greater experience, pedigree, reputation and – in Chelsea’s case – massive salaries and transfer fees’.

Any logic which suggested Chelsea had ‘greater experience, pedigree and reputation’ is ever so slightly flawed. The salaries and the transfer fees you can have, although the £75m match-winner is hardly earning a pittance of a wage at Anfield.

But Van Dijk ‘guaranteed this would not be remembered as a luckless tale of injuries’ and dragged these actual children to victory over a full-strength Chelsea side full of seasoned pros. Are we doing it right?

Klopp Liverpool
Jurgen Klopp celebrates Liverpool’s Carabao Cup final win.


Crossed wires
‘But whereas the previous finals between these two clubs – Liverpool won both domestic cups after beating Chelsea in 2022 – were dull and boring, this one was gripping and exciting until the bitter end’ – John Cross, Daily Mirror.

The 2022 FA and League Cup finals were many things, with ‘dull and boring’ absolutely not among them.


The Kidds are alright
In The Sun, Dave Kidd largely avoids the dominant themes and instead goes for the most low-hanging of all fruits: VAR.

‘That mistake was evened up by a dodgy offside call which ruled out a Raheem Sterling goal.

Palmer’s through-ball fed Jackson, who squared for Sterling to find the net.

But Jackson was flagged offside and despite the Chelsea striker looking to be onside, Brooks again refused to get involved.

He ‘refused to get involved’? What on earth are you on about? The offside was checked and confirmed to be an incredibly marginal but excellent call by the fourth official.

And he didn’t ‘refuse to get involved’ with Moises Caicedo’s awful tackle on Ryan Gravenberch; the VAR cannot intervene on perceived yellow-card offences so literally the only thing Brooks could have done was recommend a red card, and he deemed it reckless rather than serious foul play, and thus not worthy of such punishment.

There were more than enough interesting strands of discussion to pursue from that final before laying into the officials for a) correctly disallowing a goal for offside, and b) deciding a probable yellow-card offence was not a red-card offence. But VAR = bad – even though it was widely accepted the problem in those instances if anyone was referee Chris Kavanagh – so crack on.


Poch on the belt
Back to the Neville ‘bottlejobs’ quote, Pochettino was inevitably asked about it post-match and had this to say:

I have a good relationship with Gary and I don’t know if that’s how I can take this opinion. But I respect his opinion. [Neville] knows the dynamics are completely different. I think it’s not fair to talk in this way, if he said that.

And that obviously spawned the following headlines:

‘Mauricio Pochettino bites back at Gary Neville “billion-pound bottle jobs” jibe’ – Daily Mirror.

‘Mauricio Pochettino hits back at Gary Neville’s ‘billion pound bottlejobs’ jibe after Chelsea lose Carabao Cup final’ – The Sun.

‘Mauricio Pochettino bites back at Gary Neville after the Man United legend called Chelsea ‘billion pound bottle jobs’ for losing the Carabao Cup final to Jurgen Klopp’s injury-hit Liverpool’ – MailOnline, who get top marks for including ‘injury-hit Liverpool’ again.

‘Pochettino hits back at Gary Neville’s Chelsea ‘billion-pound bottle jobs’ jibe’ – The Guardian.

”Not fair’ – Chelsea boss Mauricio Pochettino fires back at Gary Neville’s scathing ‘billion pound bottle jobs’ criticism after Carabao Cup final defeat to Liverpool’ –

Pochettino hits back at ‘unfair’ Neville after ‘blue billion pound bottlejobs’ jibe in Liverpool loss‘ – Football36…ah bollocks.


Ask a simple question
‘Did Mauricio Pochettino BLANK Todd Boehly?’ – MailOnline.

‘Nope’ – Mediawatch.