‘Klopp’s kids vs billion pound bottlejobs’ narrative stunted by Carragher missing the obvious

Will Ford
klopp carragher caicedo mcconnell
Jamie Carragher analysed 'Klopp's kids vs the billion pound bottlejobs' on Monday Night Football.

Jamie Carragher could not get his head around James McConnell and Bobby Clark getting the better of Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo in extra time of Liverpool’s win over Chelsea. There’s one very simple explanation.

It’s possible that Chelsea-supporting writers should take a beat or two after their team loses a Carabao Cup final. They might have been a tad bitter, and having been told to ‘cry more’ among other more X-rated jibes on social media in response to what was written about Liverpool and their Sky Sports cheerleaders, there may even have been a couple of moments of introspection. Until Jamie Carragher appeared on Monday Night Football, that is. In for a penny…

His criticism of Chelsea was all about their performance in extra time. And fair enough. They had four or five very good chances in the last 20 minutes or so of normal time but were passive in the added period. By Mauricio Pochettino’s own admission, they sat back and played for penalties. “90 per cent of teams play like this in extra time,” but given Chelsea’s ascendency after 90 minutes, they should have gone for Liverpool’s throat.

It was Carragher’s attempt to pin the blame entirely on Enzo Fernandez and Moises Caicedo that missed the mark. In an attempt to give credence to his pal’s “billion pound bottlejob” line he selected stats and VT to exemplify one specific point, that a pair of Liverpool 19-year-olds – James McConnell and Bobby Clark – got the better of £220m duo Enzo and Caicedo. Again, no arguments. We’re not looking to disparage the teenagers – they were very impressive.

It’s Carragher not understanding how or why they managed to get the better of “A WORLD CUP WINNER” and “THE MOST EXPENSIVE BRITISH TRANSFER” that bears closer examination.

He could not get his head around how Enzo and Caicedo had “allowed them to grow in confidence”, using a slow-motion replay of the build-up to the corner from which Virgil van Dijk scored to illustrate this. The clip featured Clark getting tackled by Caicedo, McConnell controlling the ball and passing it, twice, and – most extraordinarily – Clark pointing to his own foot. “That’s a sign of confidence,” Carragher eulogised.

Again, we’re being churlish and we’re not saying they weren’t playing well, odd though it was to see Carragher waxing lyrical over a simple pass and a point.

“That corner comes because Chelsea’s midfield players allowed that to happen,” he added, and we don’t necessarily disagree, though we assume Trevoh Chalobah got a pass despite being the right-back and doing very little about an attack down the right because he’s technically a “free bottlejob” rather than one that fits the monumental money narrative.

Liverpool celebrate their Carabao Cup final triumph.
Liverpool celebrate their Carabao Cup final triumph.

But the reason (or at least a possible reason surely worth mentioning) that McConnell and Clark got the better of Enzo and Caicedo is incredibly simple. It’s also the reason they were on the pitch to get the better of them. Players get tired.

Alexis MacAllister and Conor Bradley were replaced because they were tired. Enzo and Caicedo were tired but weren’t replaced. Unless the freshness of legs is price tag dependent, Enzo and Caicedo will have been significantly more knackered having played 117 minutes of football, plus any added time, by the point the corner was won, compared to 48 minutes for Clark and 33 for McConnell.

By Carragher’s own admission “if they play that game ten times, Chelsea win eight of them”, which suggests – given such dominance – that Enzo and Caicedo got the better of the more senior opponents before they were taken off. But Wataru Endo was impressive, so maybe not. It’s not as easy as pitting one midfielder against another, or a pair against another pair, to illustrate how or why a game is won or lost.

And sometimes, in a desperate attempt to find analysis to fit a narrative – “Klopp’s kids against the billion pound bottle jobs” – you can miss the most simple of explanations for the supposedly inexplicable. Carragher mate, they were tired.