Football: When it all came down to it, the 141st FA Cup final featured a pitched battle between two managers whose careers are rapidly moving in opposite directions.
On the one hand Chelsea’s victorious caretaker chief Roberto di Matteo is a man who enjoys a burgeoning reputation at both his club and within the game.
In contrast his vanquished opponent was Liverpool’s “King” Kenny Dalglish, whose season was left in tatters after his side slept through the opening hour at Wembley.
And though they threatened to mount another famous fightback, the Reds deserved nothing from this game.
They were lethargic, sloppy and struggled to even be second best.
And though Dalglish alluded that an attack of nerves may have affected the younger players in his team, a side boasting the experience of Steven Gerrard, Pepe Reina and Craig Bellamy to name but a few, should not had been paralysed by stagefright on the big occasion.
In fairness to the Anfield boss, his decision to introduce Andy Carroll following Chelsea’s second goal came close to being a game-changing moment — and if Carroll’s late header had been an inch further away from Petr Cech’s grasp then the contest would have moved into extra time.
But as it was, Dalglish was left to reflect on what might have been while history — along with the Scot’s US paymasters — is unlikely to look kindly on a season that, League Cup win or not, has seen Liverpool collapse since the turn of the new year.
Meanwhile, there are few who would deny that during his tenure at the club di Matteo has more than earned the right to be taken seriously as a contender for the Chelsea job.
In the league alone, the Italian’s achievements since the departure of Andre Villas-Boas have been impressive, having revived the league fortunes of a seemingly dispirited and broken Blues squad.
The acquisition of the FA Cup on Saturday did nothing but strengthen his case and victory in the Champions League final on May 19 could make it watertight.
Yet even if the Allianz Arena clash with Bayern Munich ends in defeat, di Matteo’s stock has risen rapidly in the game, in stark contrast to the ever-decreasing stock of Liverpool’s current manager.