Mauricio Pochettino says he has no issue with Jurgen Klopp ahead of final clash

By Sports Desk February 24, 2024

Mauricio Pochettino insisted there is nothing personal between him and Jurgen Klopp ahead of Chelsea’s Carabao Cup final meeting with Liverpool on Sunday. (The final of the Carabao Cup between Chelsea and Liverpool will be aired live at 10:00/11:00 EST)

The pair faced off in the 2019 Champions League final when the Argentinian was in charge of Tottenham, losing 2-0 in Madrid to hand his opposite number a first trophy at Anfield.

The game is remembered for controversy after Spurs’ Moussa Sissoko was penalised for a contentious handball inside the opening minute, resulting in Mohamed Salah giving Liverpool the lead from the spot.

More recently the Reds were 4-1 winners against Chelsea in the Premier League at the end of January, when Pochettino’s side were outclassed by their hosts and fell well short of expectations set by the more than £1billion it cost to assemble their squad.

Since then there has been a notable upturn in performances, with three impressive away results including a 1-1 draw against Manchester City at the Etihad Stadium a week ago.

As he seeks his first silverware in England, the 51-year-old said neither he nor his players are motivated by revenge against their Wembley opponents.

“It’s nothing against Jurgen Klopp or Liverpool,” he said. “We love to compete with the best teams and Liverpool as a club, and Klopp with his coaching staff and the players, I think they are amazing. You love to compete with this type of organisation.

“It’s not personal against Klopp or against Liverpool to have revenge. It’s a challenge for us to say ‘we have the possibility to write history, winning a trophy’. That is our biggest motivation. That is my motivation.”

Chelsea followed the loss on Merseyside with a dismal 4-2 defeat at home to Wolves that saw sections of the home support boo the team off.

Since then, the atmosphere around the club has improved significantly, with the draw at City preceded by consecutive 3-1 wins at Aston Villa and Crystal Palace that have injected renewed hope into the team’s season.

“We didn’t compete (at Anfield),” said Pochettino. “If you see the first two minutes, we didn’t match them in the capacity to compete. We created some chances and there (should have been) a penalty after five minutes with (Conor) Gallagher that may change the situation.

“But the most important thing now in this process is to challenge ourselves to be better. If you want to challenge another person, but you are not ready… You need to put your body and your mind in the best condition. If we are in the best condition, we are going to challenge.”

Pochettino rejected the suggestion that victory on Sunday would prompt critics to move on from the huge transfer outlay expended by co-owner Todd Boehly since he took control in May 2022.

“It’s not easy in football,” he said. “It’s not an ordinary business. People know that it’s not only about spending money. It helps, but it’s not only.

“You need time if you want to build something. That is the process that we are involved in now.

“You cannot buy victories. You cannot buy trophies. Money helps, but it doesn’t give trophies.”

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