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Gary Neville: Chelsea ‘bottle jobs’ comment harsh but it needed to be said

SoccerNews in General Soccer News 29 Feb 2024

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Gary Neville admits his “bottle jobs” jibe at Chelsea was harsh but stands by his claim the Blues froze in the Carabao Cup final.

Sky Sports pundit Neville branded Mauricio Pochettino’s side “blue billion-pound bottle jobs” during Sunday’s 1-0 extra-time defeat to injury-hit Liverpool.

Pochettino has overseen a disappointing campaign since arriving at Stamford Bridge last summer and his expensively-assembled squad were beaten by Virgil van Dijk’s late header.

Former Manchester United defender Neville explained the thinking behind his comment when speaking on Sky Bet’s Stick to Football podcast, saying: “I got progressively angrier during extra time with Chelsea… then I thought, should I say it, is it too strong?

“I was thinking that as I said it, and sometimes when you think that you might think that it’s a reason not to say it, but I felt as though it needed to be said, it’s a harsh line.

“I said that they froze in extra time, there is no doubt that they were playing with fear and froze.

“Bottle doesn’t mean cowardness, they just froze on the day, we froze in games sometimes, in Champions League semi-finals.

“Sometimes you do freeze – Manchester United, the year before they won the Premier League title against Leeds, they bottled the run-in.

“We bottled the run-in, when we were without Roy (Keane) in 1998, against Arsenal – we’ve all bottled run-ins.”

Pochettino reiterated his rejection of Neville’s dig after Chelsea’s battling 3-2 FA Cup win over Leeds on Wednesday night.

“I cannot be angry about that,” he said. “With all my love to Gary, it’s not fair to use this type of word for a team that is so brave, a club that always fights for big things.

“We know that we are brave and that we are working really hard. For us, it’s not an important comment.”

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