Thomas Tuchel insisted he and not goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga should carry any blame for Chelsea’s Carabao Cup penalty shootout defeat to Liverpool.
Kepa proved to be Chelsea’s penalty fall-guy after being sent on for the shootout, failing to save any spot-kicks and missing the decisive kick that handed victory to Liverpool.
Edouard Mendy, who started the game, had made at least four excellent saves to keep out Liverpool before being replaced for the shootout by Kepa, who has saved four penalties this season.
Chelsea head coach Tuchel stood by his decision and said: “I take the decisions and I only take them when I want to take them. I cannot rejudge my decisions when I know the outcome. This is how it is.
“No blame on him. Blame on me. Sometimes it works out, sometimes it does not work out. This is life as a football coach who does substitutions. Sometimes you bring a player on and he scores. Sometimes he makes a decisive mistake. No regrets. If it is necessary to take the blame, absolutely it is on me.
“I feel bad for him, but no blame. We took the decision, like we did last time in a shootout because Kepa is training with the players on a daily basis at penalties. They know how good he is. He has more time than Edou to do this.
“Everyone knows how good he is. This plays a part in how well we shot today. Unfortunately, he could not save any and it was a bit harsh on him to miss the one and only penalty. But there is no blame.”
Chelsea’s preparations for the final were overshadowed by the news that owner Roman Abramovich has relinquished the day-to-day running of the club to a board of charitable trustees headed by Bruce Buck.
Director Marina Granovskaia and performance and technical advisor Petr Cech, who are not among the trustees, have remained in charge of all football matters.
Tuchel said: “I think it will change nothing for me on a daily basis. This is how I understand it. I am in close contact with Marina and Petr Cech to run the first team of Chelsea football club and to give my input in this and give my very best to win football matches. This will not change with the news from yesterday.”
Jurgen Klopp praises Caoimhin Kelleher after No 2 goalkeeper's heroics
By Chris Bascombe
Liverpool manager Jurgen Klopp felt a sense of vindication to go with the jubilation of a club record League Cup victory as Caoimhin Kelleher was the penalty shootout hero.
Klopp was asked ahead of the final if he was putting sentiment before logic by sticking to a pledge to select Kellleher at Wembley. The manager said the young Irishman proved why he deserved to play.
As he struck the winning penalty - using the skills he honed as a teenage striker for Ringmahon Rangers in Cork - Kelleher shot his way into Anfield folklore.
“It is quite a journey from the boy to the man he is today,” said Klopp “I saw from the first second I worked with him that he is an incredible talent.
“The game he played was incredible. There were at least two incredible saves. He proved that the decision to line him up was absolutely right, and then he showed the whole range of his skillset - finishing the game with his feet.”
Kelleher’s achievement means he will take his place on the training ground mural depicting all the legendary Liverpool keepers who have won trophies with the club.
“The development is absolutely top class,” said Klopp.
“For me, Alisson Becker is the best keeper in the world. But Caoimhin is the best number two in the world as well, especially for the way we play.”
There was a sense of fate in the 23-year-old being the cup final hero. Kelleher’s father, Ray, passed away in 2014, shortly after being instrumental in his son switching position from a striker to goalkeeper.
That added a fairytale element to the occasion, Liverpool's ninth win in the competition taking them past Manchester City.
"Even in professional football there should be space for some sentiment. Caoimhin Kelleher is a young boy. He played all the way through competition. What do I do?” said Klopp. “I am two things, a professional manager and a human being and the human being won. He deserves it.
"At the training centre we have a wall that all goalkeepers are on who won something and Caoimhin can go on it - that's how it should be - absolutely great.”
Of the final itself, Klopp described it as a ‘big one’ given the momentum it gives the team with three other trophies to compete for.
They will resume the FA Cup in midweek, are well placed to make the quarter-finals of the Champions League, and have closed the gap to Manchester City in the Premier League.
The game itself was determined by the finest of margins.
“This was like two lions going for each other,” said Klopp. “They started better, we took over and were better. In the end, the penalty shoot-out was one of the most spectacular I ever saw. The whole journey through the competition was good.”