Jürgen Klopp’s Liverpool showed Chelsea how to win with young players | Jonathan Wilson

LIt must be very confusing right now if you’re a Chelsea manager. You spent a billion dollars buying kids and got ridiculed for it, and then you lose 1-0 in the Carabao Cup final to a whole bunch of kids from Liverpool, and somehow everyone praises them before that.

But even towards the end of extra time, when Liverpool appeared to have raided the club’s nursery for bodies to throw into battle, the XI Chelsea had on the pitch had a combined age 16 years lower than that from Jürgen. Klopp’s. However, it was Liverpool who were praised for their belief in youth, while Chelsea were mocked as bottlers who had lost a great opportunity. But that’s the difference between urgency and what might loosely be described as the plan. Klopp was rightly praised for having faith in his young players – 19-year-old midfielder James McConnell in particular stood out for his presence and composure on the ball – but he only used them because of injuries.

Klopp did not want to turn to three teenagers, but after accepting that this was essential, he embraced the situation and threw them aside before the 90 minutes. If a key element of management is a confidence trick, what better way to boost the confidence of those players than by trusting them all the extra time and more? Klopp turned necessity into a virtue. It would have been very easy to use them reluctantly, to show that they were only being used because others were exhausted, but instead he made full use of their energy and the result was that the flow of the game, as with Chelsea, went. The team’s favor returned to Liverpool towards the end of the ninety minutes.

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It is then fair to wonder why, when Chelsea’s legs went into extra time, Mauricio Pochettino had no option to rely on. He had the right to make six changes, but he only made four. And that is perhaps the difference between a settled squad and a youth system that has been put together over a decade and that has a sense of common purpose so that, even with eleven injuries, it has a clear direction of travel, and whatever it is . Chelsea have spent the past two years purging products from their academy, leaving behind a mismatched group of inexperienced talents.

There remains bewilderment as to what exactly this Chelsea project is. Despite all of Liverpool’s injuries, it was surprising to hear so many suggesting before kick-off that Chelsea were favourites. Memories of what they were like before the Todd Boehly/Clearlake takeover may linger, the realization of how chaotic their spending may not yet have fully sunk in – and Chelsea under Roman Abramovich, it is true, has somehow thrived despite constant intrigue and unrest. , as if they were a football version of the Borgias, but this is a side that started the day ten places lower and 25 points behind Liverpool in the Premier League.

It is also true that the underlying numbers suggest that Chelsea are not as bad as their league position would imply, but there comes a point where the actual numbers are just the numbers. The reason Chelsea scores fewer goals than xG would suggest they shouldthe reason they concede more than xG would suggestis that their attackers are wasteful in the opponent’s penalty area and their defenders make mistakes themselves – but that is normal for young players, who lack the experience to make the right decision and perhaps even more so if they miss more established figures of who we can learn.

The age profile of the two teams on the field at the end is instructive. Every Chelsea player was between 20 and 26 years old; eight of them between 21 and 24 years old. Liverpool still had a 31-year-old and a 32-year-old plus two 27-year-olds and a 26-year-old to provide a structure, tactically and emotionally, within which the three teenagers could thrive. Perhaps Thiago Silva should have been the leader like Virgil van Dijk, but that’s a huge ask for a 39-year-old who understandably needs protection from players running straight at him.

But perhaps what Liverpool had above all else was a story and a narrative and a wave of emotions to ride – and that is something that has to be earned over time; it cannot simply be purchased. It may be that the emotional energy of Klopp’s farewell tour cannot be sustained over the next three months and that all the injuries – leaving Ryan Gravenberch and Wataru EndÅ Wembley on crutches to further compound any pre-existing problems – will ultimately put unbearable pressure on the squad . But for now, Liverpool has momentum. Klopp has a trophy in his final season with the possibility of three more. There is a feeling that a club stands together behind a respected manager.

For Chelsea, such harmony, such a sense of purpose, seems a world away.