Brendan Rodgers took the gloves off with a stinging attack on Jose Mourinho’s “defensive” tactics after the 2-0 defeat for Liverpool at Anfield on Sunday, claiming that the away team “parked two buses” in a performance that was the “polar opposite” of his own attacking principles.
The Liverpool manager has enjoyed a good relationship with Mourinho since he was recruited as a coach by the club’s academy director Neil Bath during the Chelsea manager’s first spell at the club. However, there were no punches pulled during Rodgers’ post-match press conference after goals from Demba Ba and the Brazilian Willian took the title race out of Liverpool’s hands and brought an end to a run of 11 victories for the club
The defeat means that Manchester City, who beat Crystal Palace 2-0, will win the league on goal difference from Liverpool should City win their remaining three games.
With constant complaints from his players about time-wasting by Chelsea, Rodgers said that there “were probably two buses parked instead of one,” in reference to Mourinho’s approach to the game. Asked it was similar to Chelsea’s Champions League performance against Atletico, he added: “You don’t just see it against Atletico, it’s against most.
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“It’s the style of football, it’s defensive, and the polar opposite of the way we work. It gets results, Jose has got his today and he will be happy with that. It’s the opposite to how we work and hopefully over time and with preparation it will get us long-term results.
“Credit to them they got the results, bodies back in. It’s not difficult to coach to just get 10 players right on your 18-yard box and it is difficult to break through but they defended well.”
Rodgers said that the two managers had not shaken hands at the end of the game. He suggested at one point that the Chelsea’s performance would “help us prepare for Crystal Palace”, with that slight unlikely to be lost on Mourinho. Asked whether his teams would ever play the same way, Rodgers replied: “What do you think?”
He added: “Jose 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. I like to take the initiative in games and let players express themselves. They have some fantastic players. They defended well. We tried everything we could but our game is based on being offensive, being creative as opposed to stopping.”
Mourinho, who gave the first of the two press conferences, denied that his side has been defensive. “I’m a bit confused with what the media thinks about defensive displays,” he said “When a team defends well you call it defensive display when they defend badly and concede two or three you don’t consider it a defensive display.
“The team played brilliantly. Every play was magnificent, no mistakes, [working as] zonal play which is more difficult than man to man. They covered spaces, fantastic performance by my players.”
Earlier in his Sky Sports interview he had appeared to reference what he perceived as criticism from the broadcaster’s pundits, including Jamie Redknapp, saying: “Speak with Jamie Redknapp, he tells you everything about it.” He added: “We deserved to win, no doubts about it. It is so simple as this. With the result 1-0 for 45 minutes we were always comfortable and never in trouble against a fantastic team that has beautiful players.”
Mourinho also suggested that Liverpool’s decision to bring their former players Luis Garcia on the pitch before the game - it was the Spaniard who scored the controversial winner in the two sides’ Champions League semi-final nine years ago - was deliberately provocative. He continued to deny that Chelsea are contenders for the league title despite moving within two points of Liverpool.
There was some sympathy for Steven Gerrard, whose mistake led to Ba’s goal. “That’s football,” Mourinho said. “Nobody enjoys it when somebody makes a mistake. I prefer to look at that goal and say that Demba Ba was fantastic in front of a good goalkeeper.”