Brendan Rodgers cries foul over Chelsea’s tactics
Liverpool boss says club will never resort to Chelsea’s “stopping” or time-wasting tactics under his management
Liverpool’s Steven Gerrard reacts during his team’s costly English Premier League defeat to Chelseat at Anfiled. Photo: Peter Powell/EPA
Brendan Rodgers could not hide his disdain for José Mourinho’s methods or Chelsea’s time-wasting as the Premier League title race tilted yet again courtesy of Liverpool’s first league defeat of 2014.
The close friendship between Rodgers and Mourinho, who hired the Liverpool manager as Chelsea youth-team coach a decade ago, came under strain after the visitors recorded a 2-0 win at Anfield due to goals from Demba Ba and Willian plus a resolute defensive display.
The result loosened Liverpool’s grasp on a first league championship since 1990, with Manchester City winning 2-0 at Crystal Palace, but Rodgers claimed it provided ideal preparation for an aerial assault by Tony Pulis’s team next week.
He also insisted Liverpool would never resort to Chelsea’s “stopping” or time-wasting tactics under his management.
“José is happy to work that way and play that way and he will probably shove his CV and say it works but it’s not my way of working,” said Rodgers.
“I like to take the initiative in games and let players express themselves. We tried everything we could but our game is based on being offensively creative as opposed to stopping.”
Asked if Chelsea represented the most negative visitors to Anfield this season, the Liverpool manager replied: “I’m not going to say. This game will prepare us for Crystal Palace. We will have to deal with long balls forward which we did very well today and we will have to deal with long throw-ins and got the chance to do that today. I can’t fault the players, we just didn’t find the breakthrough. Credit to Chelsea for that, they sat in really deep. There were probably two buses parked today instead of one.”
Mourinho and Rodgers did not shake hands after the final whistle, the Chelsea manager having disappeared down the tunnel after the chest-beating celebrations that followed Willian’s stoppage-time goal.
Rodgers was more aggrieved at how referee Martin Atkinson dealt with obvious time-wasting by the visitors.
“It was disappointing,” he added. “I think they got a booking for time-wasting in the 92nd minute [Ashley Cole] but you could see from the first whistle that the plan was to frustrate. Teams work in a different way. We are a team that tries to win in a sporting manner, that tries to initiate the game with the ball. Today it just wasn’t to be. . .There is still a way to go. Manchester City now will feel they can go on and win their games. For us, we will just recover now and focus on our next game.”
Mourinho’s team showed no ill-effects as they stuck to his game-plan rigidly before picking off Liverpool at the end of each half. Chelsea’s opening goal followed a calamitous error by Steven Gerrard but Mourinho recoiled at suggestions he had overseen a defensive masterclass.
“Defensive display?” Mourinho asked. “I’m a bit confused with what the media thinks about defensive displays. When a team defends well you call it a defensive display. When a team defends badly and concedes two or three goals you don’t consider it a defensive display. The team played brilliantly. The best team won. Every player was brilliant, we made no mistakes, we had zonal play which is more difficult than man to man and we covered spaces. It was a fantastic performance.”
Asked if his side could win the title Mourinho said “No. Because we have no chance.”