Pochettino reveals why he substituted Gallagher, Chilwell, reacts to other issues

Mauricio Pochettino put on a brave face as he spoke to the media after seeing his Chelsea team fall agonisingly short at Wembley against Liverpool. The Blues were beaten 1-0 in the Carabao Cup final thanks to a late Virgil van Dijk header.

The Reds captain headed past Djordje Petrovic to send half of Wembley wild. For Chelsea, though, it is yet another heartbreaking final in the capital, becoming the first team in English football history to lose six successive domestic cup finals.

Pochettino, as you can imagine, looked very glum in the press conference room at Wembley. Here is every word the Argentine had to say.

How crucial were those chances at the end of the second-half?

“I think so. That was the key. Today we created, I don’t know, four, five or six big chances and we didn’t score. And in a game like today, a final, to score first maybe will be a big advantage.

“Then we conceded in the last minute and it was difficult to react. Yes, finals are finals, it’s about to win, it’s not about to talk too much and go back.”

What do you say to your players? How do you pick them up?

“Nothing, nothing. No. They are professionals, they are very competitive and now we need to move forward, but they need to feel the pain. We play for a trophy and we didn’t get, and now it’s the same. Nothing you can tell me can make me feel better.

“They need to feel the pain like us. And of course to realise we need to work more, we need to do better things, we need to improve. To compete at this level against a team that is in the last six or seven years is competing for things.

“It’s about to arrive here first and then feel what it means to play for a big trophy. I remember after three or four years, Liverpool lost the Champions League, lost the Europa League, and they believe in the project and in the next season were stronger until they got what they wanted.

“That is a good example, Liverpool, if we want to challenge a team like Liverpool, it’s not to be frustrated today because we didn’t get the trophy. It’s about to take the example to keep believing, that is the most important thing.”

Did you expect a bit more from your players in extra-time?

“Look, of course that was difficult. Of course always some experience, some leadership inside the pitch helps but of course, after to be frustrated. The players feel the disappointment because we were so close to winning the game after 90 minutes and we feel a little bit to lose our energy.

“Some players like Gallagher and Chilly start to feel really, really tired and maybe use different players to go with and help. We need to change Gallagher after five minutes and then in the start of the second 15 minutes, I think Chilwell. The team started to feel that maybe the penalties will be good for us.

“But we cannot blame, we cannot say nothing. I think the effort was massive. I am happy with the effort. It’s about to keep believing in that. We didn’t get the reward we wanted, but now we keep moving.”

What were your emotions like?

“My emotions, I feel the same as the players. If you ask the players how they feel, I feel the same. I am so disappointed, so painful. I am older, less time to win titles and they are younger than me and for sure have time.

“In football it is always about when you have the opportunity. When we arrive for the final, already it should be good, to challenge the opponent, but after when you don’t get what you want, all of the effort you made for seven or eight months, it’s tough. That is difficult to manage, and to deal with this.

“We are competitive. If we want to win, we need to move on. I think tomorrow we need to train and recover for Wednesday.”

Thoughts on Gary Neville’s accusing your players of ‘bottling’ it?

“I don’t hear what he said but I think if you compare the age of the two groups, I think it is similar. Look, I have a good relationship with Gary. I don’t know how I can take his opinion, but I respect his opinion.

“Of course we made a few changes, like Gallagher and Chilwell in extra-time. It’s true, we didn’t keep the energy like how we finished in the second-half. That is, I don’t know how you can describe this situation. But for sure, I feel proud of the players. They made a big effort.

“We are a young team. Nothing to compare with Liverpool because they also finished with young players. It’s impossible to compare. And he knows that the dynamics are completely different. We were playing today Liverpool and Chelsea, Chelsea and Liverpool, and I don’t think it’s fair to speak in this way.

“We are going to keep strong, believe in this project and see what we can do in the future.”