Before last night’s game, we talked extensively about how in the semifinals of the League Cup, we probably won’t be able to get away with the level of effort and execution we had produced in our previous match, especially in the first half, lower league opposition or not.
We knew this, the players knew this, the coaches knew this.
But of course, knowing is one thing. Talk is easy and cheap. Putting words and intentions into action is another thing entirely. That’s one of the crucial differences between talented and good teams and talented and great teams. And by great I mean winning teams.
That sort of consistency has eluded us all season. It was a familiar story at the Riverside. We’re trying to change that story, but that story won’t change overnight.
Undone by a few crucial mistakes. Wasteful in the first half — Cole Palmer of all players, spurning a hat-trick of glorious chances — inert in the second. José Mourinho once said that winning 1-0 is the easiest thing to do in football. He was often right.
Mauricio Pochettino has yet to be that prophetic. But you know, it’s a process.
“We were punished because of some mistakes we made in the first half [and] they took advantage of that. We created chances enough to score and draw in the end. If we assess the game after 90 minutes I think we were the better side but if you don’t score goals you cannot win. Credit to Middlesbrough because they were aggressive and they created chances and score and we didn’t score.”
“[We] deserve another result. Sometimes you don’t play well and win. For us, we need to play well, we need to score our goals, always. We play well and sometimes we are not clinical enough. Sometimes we are punished. That is the process at this moment. Always in a process when you are building a team these things are tough. It’s not only to play well, you need to deserve and have some luck. Today we made few mistakes and concede a goal that we should not concede and then we were not clinical enough.”
-Mauricio Pochettino; source: Football.London
But of course, we’re just at the half. A 1-0 deficit going into a home leg is hardly an impossible situation to overturn. That doesn’t mean we will. It’s hard to know which Chelsea will show up on any given day. But we certainly can. I would bet we will, but I’m not a betting man.