Chelsea 2, Tottenham 0:
Ten years on from Jose Mourinho’s first trophy at Chelsea, the sight of him lifting the League Cup again – the first silverware of his second spell at the club — is an ominous one for the rest of the Premier League. No wonder he said it made him feel like a ’52-year-old kid.’
There was a real nod to the past at Wembley as John Terry – man of the match when Chelsea beat Liverpool at the Millennium Stadium 3-2 a decade ago – received the same accolade again after scoring the opener and inspiring a comfortable Capital One Cup victory over Tottenham, in which a Kyle Walker own goal added to Chelsea’s celebratory mood.
It may also have been a glimpse of what lies ahead as Mourinho ended his own personal trophy drought (he hadn’t won silverware with Chelsea or Real Madrid since 2012) with a victory that could be the first of many. The League Cup of 2005, remember, was quickly followed by back-to-back title wins; and having seen Manchester City lose at Liverpool just before Chelsea walked out on the hallowed turf, leaving them with a five-point lead and a game in hand, there is every reason to believe history will now repeat itself.
“I know we have a team to build but it’s difficult for me to live without winning things – two years is a long time because I need to feel myself with titles,” said Mourinho. “So this is important for me and for the boys. For the club, it’s one more cup but it’s also the first one of a new team. Before the game I had the same feelings as in my first final; and the same happiness after. I was like kid at 52 years old.”
Mourinho, in fairness, has always taken this trophy seriously and although Spurs – who memorably beat Chelsea 5-3 at White Hart Lane in January – are vastly improved, they weren’t quite good enough when it really mattered to stop the Special One’s inexorable pursuit of further glory. You have to wonder if any team will be.
There was a little side story to the victory which was illuminating too, and helps explain why Mourinho has been so successful over his career – remember he won a trophy every calendar year from 2003 to 2012 – and provided an insight into just how far he goes to focus his players on lifting silverware.
“The perfect day was to win the final, so I prepared the players for an impossible mission,” said the Chelsea manager. “I didn’t want the players to know the result from Liverpool. I didn’t want TV in the hotel or on the bus. I knew this was difficult but I didn’t want to see any disappointment when City scored in the last minute, for instance. I didn’t want lousy reactions. I wanted complete silence. Forget the Premier League because you have a difficult job against Tottenham.”
As it happens, Mourinho’s plans were foiled when a member of staff jumped up and down on the bus when Liverpool went 2-1 up. “I wanted to kill the guy,” he admitted. “A member of my own staff broke the rules!”
But Chelsea’s players had clearly got the message because they were organised and concentrated for 90 minutes against Spurs, with Kurt Zouma surprisingly chosen to play holding midfield in place of suspended Nemanja Vidic in a system designed to frustrate Tottenham. “Finals are not for playing, they are for winning. We were a strategic team,” was Mourinho’s take.
The gamble worked; and although Christian Eriksen hit the bar with a free-kick in a first half that Tottenham edged, Chelsea took the lead on 45 minutes when Willian’s free-kick fell for Terry to drill home from eight yards.
The game was all but sealed after 56 minutes when Fabregas found Costa on the left and his fierce effort across goal struck Spurs defender Walker and left goalkeeper Hugo Lloris beaten. For Tottenham, knocked out of the Europa League in midweek and now down to seventh in the Premier League, it was a chastening experience – and so disappointed were their supporters that barely a single one remained in the ground to see their team collect runners-up medals.
But Mourinho believes Spurs will win trophies in future and was generous in his praise of Mauricio Pochettino, who did his best to look for positives in the experience. “I’m disappointed for our supporters but we need to feel proud of the way we played,” he said. “We need to take a lot of positives from it. We are a very young squad – with an average age of 23.5 – and we are in a good way. I think we will play a lot of finals in the next few years.”
The same, of course, can be said of Chelsea. This victory may have had echoes of the past for Mourinho, Terry and substitute Didier Drogba – who lifted the trophy with his captain having enjoyed a similar experience in 2005 – but it also set the tone for the future, too. Jose has the potential to keep everyone at Stamford Bridge feeling young for the foreseeable future.
CHELSEA: Cech 6, Ivanovic 7, Zouma 7, Terry 8, Azpilicueta 7, Ramires 7, Cahill 7, Fabregas 7 (Oscar 88), Willian 6 (Cuadrado 76; 6), Diego Costa 7 (Drogba 90), Hazard 7.
Subs not used: Courtois, Filipe Luis, Ake, Remy.
TOTTENHAM: Lloris 6, Walker 7, Dier 6, Vertonghen 7, Rose 7, Bentaleb 6, Mason 5 (Lamela 71; 5), Chadli 6 (Soldado 80), Eriksen 7, Townsend 5 (Dembele 62; 6), Kane 6.
Subs not used: Vorm, Davies, Fazio, Dembele, Stambouli.
Referee: Anthony Taylor
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