Brendan Rodgers had some sour grapes after the 2-0 loss to Chelsea at Anfield, and much of it had to do with the ultra-defensive strategy Jose Mourinho chose to field.
With the Anfield fixture bookended by Champions League matches – which Mourinho said he believed were the club’s priority – the London club’s manager selected a weakened side to face the Reds.
The lineup did not feature attacking midfielder Oscar, nor did it have the injured Eden Hazard, and Rodgers could see the difference.
“It was 10 players behind from the first minute [by Chelsea], and we found it difficult to break down,” Rodgers said of Chelsea’s strategy. “There were probably two buses parked today, never mind one.”
When a reporter asked if he could build a team and play that way, he said with a chuckle, “What do you think?”
Finally, Rodgers said he doesn’t believe a fully defensive outlook will allow Chelsea to win trophies, and not just in the Premier League.
“[To win matches] you need combination play. Not just vs Atletico, it’s every game. If it gets results, great, but it’s totally opposite of how we work. Over time our mentality and aggression will get us results. It’s not difficult to coach to get 10 men inside the 18-yard box.”
The Liverpool manager was also not happy about how slow Chelsea played. “It was disappointing they didn’t get booked for time wasting until the 92nd minute,” Rodgers remarked. “Everyone could see it from the first whistle.”
It was a pretty obvious tactic by Mourinho to slow the game down, most notably when John Obi Mikel walked off the pitch after receiving treatment, and he made three stops to turn around and have a word with referee Howard Webb, much to the anger of the Anfield crowd.
Rodgers was the head youth coach under Jose Mourinho’s first stint at Chelsea, and the game was billed as a “master vs apprentice” matchup. However, the two did not shake hands after the match, and when asked if he had seen or spoken to Mourinho after the final whistle, Rodgers said bluntly, “I haven’t seen Jose yet.”
Finally, Rodgers finished up his presser giving credit to Mourinho but not agreeing with the way of playing. “Jose’s happy with that. It’s not my way of working. They defended well – we tried everything we could.”