Rafa's dignity overshadows
Jose's mad moments
By Echo Sports Editor John Thompson - Liverpool Echo
Almost felt sorry for Jose Mourinho as he bathed in
the afterglow of Chelsea's victory at the Millennium
Stadium last night.
Or rather, did anything but. He started well enough,
when asked about his analysis of the dramatic match
which had just concluded.
He said his players deserved their win. Liverpool worked
tremendously hard to keep his side out. They were
organised and valiant, as you'd expect from a Benitez
team, and he felt sorry for them. But the better team,
which had enjoyed much more possession and which kept
going until it got its reward, came through.
A fair enough assessment. And then . . .
Flanked by his spin doctor, one foot clambering onto the
podium of the private, untelevised press conference, a
British journalist asked him to explain why he put his
finger to his lips at the Liverpool fans behind him.
Cue one of those 'If looks could kill' moments from the
Portuguese Man o' War. How dare he ask that! "No, no I
was gesturing to the press," Mourinho insisted, teeth
clenching and brow furrowing even more now as it was
then pointed out the press were actually on the other
side of the stadium.
And when asked why he later waved at the Liverpool fans,
his explanation was that he was waving to his wife.
Clearly in a spin himself, the concerned manager's
minder intervened constantly to insist these were the
real reasons behind behaviour which saw a British team's
manager sent to the stands in a major cup final like a
naughty boy to his bedroom.
Good job nobody mentioned his string of expletives aimed
at Jamie Carragher during the game. Presumably, the
answer would have been: "No, no I just said 'Fair cop,
When Mourinho suggested he might fight the pressman who
dared ask him such impudent questions, I prepared for
him to blow and leap at him.
I was in the middle of row one for this semi-private
after-match sideshow, as close as anyone to him, and
believe me, he seemed that angry, that ready to explode.
Here was a manager who should have been enjoying the
moment, not being tortured and tormented by it. He
should have been accepting congratulations, not sitting
there spitting mad.
But that, perhaps, is Mourinho's problem.
Like a spoilt child always seeking attention and
demanding his own way, it seems he wants to be the
He is a great football manager, of that there is no
doubt. Forget Chelsea now buying the title and other
trophies as Abramovich feeds him with everything he
wants. Mourinho won a Champions League and a UEFA Cup
with a little known Portuguese side who didn't enjoy
such riches. His ability as a boss is beyond doubt in
But contrast his big-day behaviour to that of Benitez,
who had taken the same platform moments earlier.
He looked bitterly disappointed as he entered, but
refused to blame his players or his captain, telling
journalists he was proud of their efforts but so upset
for them and the supporters who he praised so highly.
Despite his detectable pain, Benitez was a picture of
dignity in defeat.
What followed was absolute and stark in comparison.
In rolled the winner, no sense of pleasure or pride in
his players. Detached and distant from their achievement
- just as he was when he ripped his Champions League
medal from his neck in Germany and left them behind to
head for the tunnel.
This display at Cardiff was so much worse. Jose Mourinho
shamed himself, his club and the game of football
yesterday when he had every opportunity and every right
to do exactly the opposite.
He's got what he deep down obviously wants - all the
headlines himself today.
And it doesn't make pretty reading.
Gerrard future not decided by Cardiff loss
By Alan Hansen - BBC Sport football expert
Steven Gerrard's own goal in Liverpool's Carling Cup
defeat against Chelsea sparked yet another round of
speculation about his Anfield future.
There was no denying the irony of Gerrard's mishap,
coming as it did in a cup final against the club that
almost paid £30m for him last summer.
And that irony was not missed by the media - or indeed
But to suggest the incident, and the defeat, will shape
whether he stays or goes from Liverpool, is wrong.
It was just one of those things that could have happened
anywhere at any time, in any place and in any game.
It wasn't even a mistake, although you could say the
mistake was in three Liverpool defenders going for the
But to pull together a sub-plot or conspiracy theory
that the own goal, combined with Liverpool's defeat, has
finally put Gerrard on the road to Stamford Bridge is
It was inevitable that because it came against Chelsea,
there would be speculation, but I believe Gerrard will
be concentrating on one thing and one thing alone.
And that is ensuring Liverpool qualify for the Champions
League by getting that fourth place in the Premiership.
I don't think any decision has been made, and will
certainly not be influenced by anything that happened in
Cardiff on Sunday.
Liverpool must hope they clinch fourth place and that is
enough to persuade their massively influential captain
From Liverpool's point of view, the defeat was a bitter
disappointment, but when the disappointment has
subsided, they can take heart from a week of
encouragement both at home and abroad.
Liverpool had an excellent win against Bayer Leverkusen
in the Champions League, when they got it down, played
and scored goals.
And in Sunday's Carling Cup final, they showed real
defensive resilience when they were pinned back for long
I think Rafael Benitez is on the right lines and speaks
with a lot of confidence about his team and what he
wants from them.
But there is no doubt Liverpool's next two games will
shape their season, at Newcastle away in the league and
then Bayer away in the Champions League second leg.
What they cannot afford to do is produce any
performances like they produced at Burnley, Southampton
If they slip up at Newcastle then Everton beat Blackburn
24 hours later, that will be an 11-point gap and that's
an awful long way back for them in the race for the
Champions League place.
There is added spice because Everton are fourth. They
had an impressive win at Aston Villa, and you cannot
take away from them what they have done.
They've had an uncertain spell recently, but they've
picked up points here and there and that is a great
tribute to manager David Moyes and his players.
And in Tim Cahill, they've paid £2m for a player from
outside the Premiership who has proved himself in the
Liverpool will still be a massive magnet for top
players, but they may also need to seek out the type of
signings that Moyes has pulled off with Cahill.
He has been excellent since arriving from Millwall and
has been a very sound purchase by Moyes.
While the battle for fourth hots up, Manchester United
turned the screw a little tighter on leaders Chelsea by
beating Portsmouth and reducing the gap to six points -
albeit with a game in hand for Jose Mourinho's side.
The Carling Cup win against Liverpool was massive for
Chelsea, because it stopped all the inevitable questions
that would have been posed if they had lost three games
in a week.
I don't think they answered all the questions, because
for all their long periods of possession they were
struggling to score until Gerrard's unfortunate
Obviously a lot of focus has been centred on Mourinho
for events on and off the pitch, but I think he will be
more than happy with that because it means the heat is
taken off his players.
If people are asking questions about the manager, they
are leaving the players in peace, so Mourinho will
settle for that.
And while United are showing once again there is no-one
better when it comes to the chase, I don't think there
is any shift in the balance of power in the Premiership.
It is all Chelsea's to lose, with a six-point lead and a
game in hand. Throw in that their next four league games
are against the bottom four sides in the table, and you
can see they are in a strong position.
They must keep their eye on the ball because Manchester
United are masters of this situation - but the balance
of power still lies with Chelsea.
Gerrard down after OG
By Alex Dunn - Sky Sports
Liverpool captain Steven Gerrard admits that Sunday's
Carling Cup Final defeat to Chelsea was a bitter pill to
The influential England midfielder scored an own goal
with just over ten minutes remaining, to take the game
into extra time.
Chelsea prevailed in the second period of extra time,
with Gerrard left desolate at the final whistle.
"Losing cup finals and scoring an own goal is a bad day
for myself," Gerrard said.
"But I'll look forward to the next game now.
"We scored early on and tried to see the clock out
because we were 15 minutes away from lifting the cup.
"But credit to Chelsea they came back and deserved the
Liverpool boss Rafael Benitez has told his skipper that
he should be proud of his efforts, along with the rest
of his team-mates.
"I have talked to Steven and to all the players and said
to them they must be proud,'' concluded Benitez.
''If you run, if you work, if you try your hardest you
cannot do more.
"It's a pity for the team, it's a pity for the
supporters because they are perhaps the best in England,
and the players did their best so you cannot say
anything except that they must be proud."
regrets for Jose
By Alex Dunn - Sky Sports
Jose Mourinho insists he has no regrets despite being
sent off in Chelsea's 3-2 success over Liverpool in the
Carling Cup Final.
The cocksure Portuguese tactician was sent from the
Chelsea bench after being seen putting his finger to his
lips, directly in front of Liverpool fans, following
Steven Gerrard's own goal that sent the game into extra
Mourinho was forced to watch the rest of the game from a
TV room inside the stadium but despite the hindrance
caused, the Chelsea chief remains defiant in his
Chelsea's ability to last the course this season has
been questioned after two defeats in recent weeks, with
Mourinho claiming his 'silence' gesture was directed
towards the media and not Liverpool's travelling
"I don't regret it (his actions)," Mourinho told Sky
"The only thing I have to understand is I'm in England,
I have to adapt, so maybe even when I think I am not
wrong I have to adapt to your country and I have to
"I have a lot of respect for Liverpool fans and what I
did, the sign of silence, 'shut your mouth', was not for
them it was for the English press.
"They speak too much because Chelsea lost two matches in
a week (the FA Cup defeat at Newcastle and the UEFA
Champions League loss to Barcelona).
"In my opinion you (the media) try to do everything to
disturb Chelsea and try to take some confidence from us.
"The sign was for you (the press). Don't speak too soon.
We have the first title and almost for sure we will have
the second one.''
Mourinho also denied that he was feeling pressure and
dismissed the comments made by his managerial rivals in
"I'm not feeling the pressure. I have read a lot of
times this week I have to prove a lot in English
football," he added.
"Sir Alex is the only European champion in this country
so I have to prove what?
"I'm very happy not just for me. For me it is not so
important but for the fans, the club and the players -
especially for the players who were in the squad for a
few years without silverware.
"It is very difficult to win for the first time."
We were unlucky
By Alex Dunn - Sky Sports
Liverpool boss Rafa Benitez believes his side were
unfortunate to miss out on the Carling Cup after a
pulsating game in Cardiff.
Chelsea needed extra time to eventually claim the
silverware and were it not for a Steven Gerrard own goal
12 minutes from time, Benitez would have been returning
to Merseyside with his first trophy in English football.
The Spanish chief believes his side were not outplayed
by their West London counterparts and that on another
day, they would have finished off Chelsea
"If you have clear chances at 1-0, if you get a second
goal you finish the game,'' Benitez told Sky Sports.
''We made mistakes and in the end we conceded a goal.
"I said to the players we must be proud, we have had a
good game, they controlled the game but we were
organised as a team and had opportunities.
''It is difficult to play against Chelsea, but we scored
two goals and worked hard.
"I think that after the game we need to analyse things,
the players must be proud - they had a good game."
Chelsea triumph in thriller
By Alex Dunn - Sky Sports
Chelsea's new era under the ownership of Roman
Abramovich and the management of Jose Mourinho has
yielded its first silverware after an engrossing 3-2
success over Liverpool in the Carling Cup final.
Liverpool had looked to have earned Rafa Benitez his
first trophy in English football when John Arne Riise
struck after just 45 seconds but an own goal from Steven
Gerrard took the game into a pulsating period of extra
Goals from Didier Drogba and Mateja Kezman put a
tentative blue hand on the trophy before Antonio Nunez
caused palpatations for those in West London with a late
strike of his own.
Managerial talk this season has primarily revolved
around the musings of Mourinho but in Cardiff it was his
counterpart, Benitez that landed the first tactical
Harry Kewell, a player who has languished at Anfield
through injury and a lack of form, having only just
returned from a prolonged spell on the sidelines was
handed a start - Milan Baros left looking glum on the
Liverpool crowded the midfield from the onset and with
Chelsea, for once, lacking cohesion, Benitez's side went
for the throat of Mourinho's men early.
From the kick-off, when Luis Garcia failed to spot Riise
drifting free off the left channel, the Norwegian looked
disgusted at his Spanish team-mate.
Chelsea, and in particular Paulo Ferreira, would not
heed the warning. After Garcia lost possession, Fernando
Morientes made his way down the right channel but only
this time Riise was found.
After Morientes' cross made its way over the head of a
ball-watching Ferreira, Riise connected gloriously to
arch an arrow of a hit across the body of Petr Cech to
send the red half of Cardiff into ecstasy and further
sink those in blue.
Chelsea without Arjen Robben have become somewhat of a
bird with clipped wings and at times in the first
period, the explosive pace and penetration he offers was
Having ascertained a lead so early, Liverpool were
caught in a quandary of whether to sit or to continue
with a positive pressing game.
For the most part they found a suitable balance between
the two, as while Chelsea bossed possession, Liverpool
were thunderous in the tackle and not without wit when
It would take 20 minutes before Jerzy Dudek was called
into action, clasping on to a Frank Lampard free kick
hit with power but too straight to ever cause real
Gerrard, fresh from an enforced absence in midweek,
looked pleadingly at referee Steve Bennett after being
hauled down by Claude Makelele in the penalty area on
the half hour mark, before at the opposite end, Chelsea
conjured their best chance.
A previously peripheral Joe Cole showed a glimpse of his
maverick capabilities with a cute through ball but when
closing on goal, Drogba could only stab into the body of
Dudek for a corner.
From the resulting set piece John Terry found Lampard
but his towering header was cleared off the line by
As the half drew to its close, the Premiership leaders
began to grind out control with some sharp passing but
created little in terms of genuine opportunities.
Chelsea's lack of guile in the final third had not gone
unnoticed on the bench and it came as no surprise when
Mourinho summoned Eidur Gudjohnsen to replace surprise
inclusion Jiri Jarosik at half time.
The tempo was immediately upped in the second period,
with Mourinho animated on the touchline - urging greater
and greater exertions from his on-field troops.
With Liverpool retreating deeper, Cole clipped a great
cross onto the head of Gudjohnsen but from the
Icelander's connection Dudek flung himself to his right
to save in some style.
From the rebound, William Gallas fired at goal but again
the much-maligned Pole was ready to thwart for a corner.
After Kewell was withdrawn for Nunez, Morientes was left
as an isolated target man and it was he that was the
architect of Liverpool's best move of the second period.
The former Real Madrid favourite disguised an astute
pass beyond the Chelsea back-line to find Garcia and
from his compatriot's cross, a surprisingly advanced
Didi Hamann bent a classy effort with the outside of his
right foot but Cech was equal to it to keep Chelsea in
Gallas saw an inviting cross cleared over his own bar by
Riise before Ferreira partially atoned for his earlier
error by denying Gerrard a certain goal from Nunez's
With Chelsea legs looking heavy after a midweek trip to
Barcelona, Ferreira swung in a nothing free kick from
the right, Gerrard beat Riise in the air to head the
ball backwards and beyond his own goalkeeper, for the
most unlikely of levellers on 78 minutes.
Mourinho's exertions on the touchline proved too much
for the match officials with ten minutes remaining and
he was sent off before Dudek again saved his team-mates
with a superb stop from Duff after an excellent Lampard
With Liverpool's morale understandably sunk, Chelsea
made strides for a winner that saw Duff denied by an
important deflection and Lampard ping a snap-shot
On the counter, Baros failed to beat the angle in injury
time when he fired a shot over on the stretch from Igor
Biscan's lobbed pass.
Extra time mirrored much of what had preceded but whilst
the ball spent most of its time in Liverpool's half, it
was Hamann that forced the opening period's only save
when he tested Cech from distance.
Biscan will also be left ruing an opportunity squandered
when he could only power his header over the top from
Garcia's cross, following a cleverly worked free kick.
Then came Drogba's first real installment on the
investment made for his services by Abramovich. When
Sami Hyypia failed to deal with Glen Johnson's long
throw, the powerful hit-man cushioned the ball on his
knee before poking past Dudek.
With Liverpool broken, Gudjohnsen fired the ball across
a crowded box and after a deflection caused panic,
substitute Kezman was on hand to stab home for Chelsea's
The Carling Cup was in all likelihood already being
etched with Chelsea's name when with five minutes
remaining, Gerrard's whipped delivery from the left was
not dealt with - leaving Nunez to stoop to head over an
Liverpool cannot be faulted for their efforts in the
final moments but it is Chelsea who remain on course for
a Treble, after what was one of the best League Cup
finals in its 45-year history.