• 'José is happy to work that way but it's not my way of working'
• Rodgers: At least this has prepared us for playing Palace
• Liverpool 0-2 Chelsea match report
• Should Mourinho adopt more adventurous tactics at Chelsea?
Brendan Rodgers could not hide his disdain for José Mourinho's methods or Chelsea's time-wasting as the Premier League title race tilted yet again courtesy of Liverpool's first league defeat of 2014.
The close friendship between Rodgers and Mourinho, who hired the Liverpool manager as Chelsea youth-team coach a decade ago, came under strain after the visitors recorded a 2-0 win at Anfield due to goals from Demba Ba and Willian plus a resolute defensive display. The result loosened Liverpool's grasp on a first league championship since 1990, with Manchester City winning 2-0 at Crystal Palace, but Rodgers claimed it provided ideal preparation for an aerial assault by Tony Pulis's team next week. He also insisted Liverpool would never resort to Chelsea's "stopping" or time-wasting tactics under his management.
"José is happy to work that way and play that way and he will probably shove his CV and say it works but it's not my way of working," said Rodgers. "I like to take the initiative in games and let players express themselves. We tried everything we could but our game is based on being offensively creative as opposed to stopping."
Asked if Chelsea represented the most negative visitors to Anfield this season, the Liverpool manager replied: "I'm not going to say. This game will prepare us for Crystal Palace. We will have to deal with long balls forward which we did very well today and we will have to deal with long throw-ins and got the chance to do that today. I can't fault the players, we just didn't find the breakthrough. Credit to Chelsea for that, they sat in really deep. There were probably two buses parked today instead of one."
Mourinho and Rodgers did not shake hands after the final whistle, the Chelsea manager having disappeared down the tunnel after the chest-beating celebrations that followed Willian's stoppage-time goal. "It's always the nature of how we work in this country but I won't get hung up on it," said Rodgers, who was more aggrieved at how referee Martin Atkinson dealt with obvious time-wasting by the visitors.
"It was disappointing," he added. "I think they got a booking for time-wasting in the 92nd minute [Ashley Cole] but you could see from the first whistle that the plan was to frustrate. Teams work in a different way. We are a team that tries to win in a sporting manner, that tries to initiate the game with the ball. Today it just wasn't to be. Whether it was time-wasting or whatever it doesn't matter. We lost the game and we move on to the next game.
"I am very proud of the players. All the money that has been spent at the top end of the league and we are two points clear of Chelsea. If we win our last two games we will finish above them and maybe Manchester City. There is still a way to go. Manchester City now will feel they can go on and win their games. For us, we will just recover now and focus on our next game."
Fireworks were set off outside Chelsea's team hotel before the game, with several prank calls also attempted, but Mourinho's team showed no ill-effects as they stuck to his game-plan rigidly before picking off Liverpool at the end of each half. Chelsea's opening goal followed a calamitous error by Steven Gerrard but Mourinho recoiled at suggestions he had overseen a defensive masterclass.
"Defensive display?" Mourinho asked. I'm a bit confused with what the media thinks about defensive displays. When a team defends well you call it a defensive display. When a team defends badly and concedes two or three goals you don't consider it a defensive display. The team played brilliantly. The best team won. Every player was brilliant, we made no mistakes, we had zonal play which is more difficult than man to man and we covered spaces. It was a fantastic performance by my players."
Chelsea are now two points behind leaders Liverpool with two games remaining. Asked if his team could now win the Premier League, Mourinho, who said John Terry has a chance of returning from injury against Atlético Madrid on Wednesday, said: "No. Because we have no chance."