Chelsea have started a new era for their club with new money from a new chairman. Whereas offers of money can be used to tempt players away from their clubs, it doesn’t work with fans. Jamie Carragher, Liverpool’s player of the season, says: "Chelsea have bought great players and have an excellent manager, but you can’t buy fans like ours."
Jamie was referring to the phenomenal levels of noise that made Anfield an intimidating place for the expensive Chelsea team last night. Carragher, speaking to the Liverpool Echo, said that last night outdid everything he’d experienced before: "That atmosphere was better than anything I’ve known and I’ve been involved in some great nights recently. The games against Roma, Juventus and Olympiakos were unbelievable, but that was something else."
Last night Steve Gerrard talked about how the atmosphere was already electric well before kick-off, Carra repeated what his captain said: "Even when we were warming-up 40 minutes before the game, the crowd was as noisy as it’s been for a long time. Normally you can hear DJ George playing his records, but even he was drowned out by the singing. We knew then it was going to be a special night. We all knew what it was going to be like and it gave us a hell of a boost."
Chelsea’s players and manager played down the impact Liverpool’s fans would have before the game took place. They perhaps underestimated it: "No disrespect to Chelsea, but their supporters aren’t like ours. We’ve got a working class support while the majority of fans at the game last week are probably a bit more well-to-do. In my opinion, clubs which have that traditional core of working class fans are always going to be more passionate about football. They get involved in the game a lot more and create a much better atmosphere."
John Terry tried last night to make out that the Chelsea fans were as good as the Liverpool fans for creating an atmosphere. He said the words, but his face told the truth – Chelsea’s fans are very quiet. Carragher continued: "I’m not trying to be disrespectful to them when I say that, I think it’s just a fact which is proven by other grounds across the country, and there’s none better than our fans or Anfield on a European night."
Jose Mourinho said before the game that the referee was a good referee. He would – after all that referee was in charge when Mourinho took Porto to UEFA Cup success. Carragher took a chance with UEFA when he joked: "The most worrying part was the six minutes of injury-time, but I think the referee is a mate of Mourinho’s and he certainly gave them plenty of extra-time to get an equaliser." If UEFA have a sense of humour there’ll be no problems for Carragher. Certainly he was less critical than Mourinho was about the linesman.
Mourinho said "the best team lost" after last night’s game. Carragher disagreed: "I don’t think it’s right to say we didn’t deserve to win. Over the two games there weren’t many chances for both sides. Last night Chelsea only had a free-kick from Lampard and the shot at the end from Gudjohnson. When you consider what a great side they are, how expensive their squad is and the fact they’ve just won the Premiership, I think all the credit deserves to go to us for limiting them to a few shots. We’re in the final because over two games, that’s where we deserve to be."
Carragher reminded everyone though that as good as the victory last night felt, there’s still some work to be done: "The scenes at the end were superb, but we all realise we haven’t won anything yet. There’s one more game left to win. I don’t care who we play. It’s going to be tough, but now we want to make sure we use this win as the platform to win the whole competition."
Liverpool will find out who their opponents will be in Istanbul on May 25th when the other semi-final between AC Milan and PSV Eindhoven is played this evening.