Leeds United 1 Manchester City 1 – Wily Bielsa shows his former pupil Guardiola how it’s done
Often viewed as the runt of the litter when compared to the Premier League title and the FA Cup, the Carabao Cup has traditionally been the tournament in which the big teams in England use to blood their youngsters or give playing time to their fringe players.
But this morning’s Carabao Cup round of 16 tie between London rivals Chelsea and Tottenham Hotspur proved otherwise, as both teams put out a strong starting line-up, albeit without some of their respective star players like Harry Kane and Kai Havertz.
WATCH: Harry Kane scores his 200th career goal
It was clear from their team selection that both Frank Lampard and Jose Mourinho, formerly partners in crime as star player and ‘Special’ manager at Chelsea respectively, were eager to get one over the other and move on to the next stage of the tournament.
It was Lampard’s Chelsea who drew first blood, with new signing Timo Werner scoring his first goal for the club in the 19th minute. Picking up the ball at the edge of the penalty area, the 24-year-old took a touch to set himself up before powering a low drive into the bottom corner of the net.
WATCH: Werner explains why joining Chelsea was the ‘best decision’ for him
The goal evidently angered Mourinho, who began prowling his technical area, just waiting to take offence at the slightest hint of provocation. And Lampard duly obliged.
Both men began going at it on the touchline, with Mourinho reportedly heard to have told Lampard: “F***ing hell Frank, when you're losing 3-0, you're not standing up here”. This was in reference to the Blues’ recent match against West Brom in which they trailed 0-3 at half-time.
In response, Lampard began mouthing off at his former boss, and the two men continued to trade barbs and angry gestures until they remembered they were fully grown adults and not kids at a playground and stopped their antics.
That, however, was not the end of the drama at the Tottenham Hotspur stadium. In the 75th minute, with Spurs still trailing by Werner’s goal, Eric Dier decided that he really could not ignore the call of nature anymore, and so decided to run into the locker room DURING THE GAME to answer it.
This led to a bizarre chain of events which saw Mourinho running after Dier into the toilet to put pressure on him to finish his business quickly. If there’s anything that will help loosen your bowels, it’s an irate Mourinho chasing you all the way to the toilet to shout at you.
Mourinho’s pressure worked well, as Dier emerged back out onto the pitch in less than five minutes. We can only hope he remembered to wash his hands.
WATCH: Dier explains Mourinho’s man-management style to NBA legend Steve Kerr
Barely minutes later, Spurs equalised through Erik Lamela, with the Argentinian capitalising on a defensive mix-up in the Chelsea backline to poke home Sergio Reguilon's cross from close range.
Even this otherwise innocuous goal had an interesting footnote, with the commentor for Sky Sports making history by becoming the first (and last) person ever to mistake Lamela for Lionel Messi.
The game finished at 1-1, and with no extra time played, the tie went straight to penalties. Chelsea’s Mason Mount ended up being the only player to miss his spot-kick, thus ending his team’s journey in the competition.
There was still further drama after the game, as Mourinho opted to skip the customary postmatch handshake with his opposite number and made a hasty exit into the locker room. To give him the benefit of the doubt, maybe he, too, needed to do a Dier?
Despite their seemingly acrimonious relationship, both Lampard and Mourinho sounded a conciliatory note in their post-match conference.
Explaining what happened between him and Lampard on the touchline, Mourinho said he was simply trying to give his former charge some advice on the right way to behave as a manager.
“The only thing that I was telling him was an opinion of an old coach to a young, talented coach which was when the players need us, is when we are losing. When they are winning, we don't need to be the protagonists of the touchline,” Mourinho said without a hint of irony, considering his own behaviour in the past.
“Last match, when they (Chelsea) were losing 3-0, I felt sorry for him because he was really, really sad and quiet in his chair. In terms of football, I have nothing to teach him, he knows football up and down. He is a fantastic coach. It was just an opinion: Stay on the touchline when your team is losing and stay calm when your team is winning.”
The Portuguese went on to insist that he held no ill-will towards Lampard.
“With Frank, the most important thing is my feelings to him. It is more important than any words,” Mourinho added. “My feelings to him are I will always owe him everything that he gave me. He gave me everything he had as a player and I never forget that, so my feelings towards him will be always feelings of how much I owe him for such an incredible player, friend and professional that he was.”
Lampard, too, played down his spat with Mourinho on the touchline and brushed it off as two men having a bit of “fun”. If that’s their version of fun, one can only imagine how they’re like when they’re serious.
“We were having some fun on the touchline," Lampard explained. “I get on well with Jose. I commented on the fact that he seemed to speak to the referee more than he was speaking to his players.
“It was just a moment with us. I've got a huge amount of respect for Jose no matter what we say on the touchline. I think he was probably feeling the sense of the first half and how it was, but all was very well at the end of the game and that will never change.”
Meanwhile, a contrite Dier gave his version of events as to what happened with him in the washroom.
“Jose wasn't happy but there was nothing I could do about it, nature was calling,” revealed Dier. “When you've got to go, you've got to go. Some things you can't stop. I don't know if Jose understood what I was doing to begin with. I told Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg and Toby Alderweireld as I was going off, I simply had to go.
“I was struggling with stomach cramps; it had got too bad. I heard there was a chance [for Chelsea] while I was off the pitch but thankfully, they didn't score.”
And of course, there was only one deserving winner of the Man of the Match award…