Middlesbrough boss Chris Wilder aimed a subtle dig at Manchester United and Tottenham after their FA Cup dream was ended by Chelsea at the Riverside. Wilder’s men stunned Spurs and defeated United in a penalty shoot-out at Old Trafford to set up a quarter-final tie against Thomas Tuchel’s European Champions.
But Chelsea saw off Boro with minimal fuss as goals from Romelu Lukaku and Hakim Ziyech ensured a Wembley semi-final. A restricted away following due to sanctions placed on exiled owner Roman Abramovich did not inhibit the Blues, who completed the job that their two Premier League rivals failed at with ease.
Ralf Rangnick’s Red Devils were knocked out in dramatic style after a painful shoot-out exit. A narrow 1-0 defeat also ensured Spurs would go another year without silverware, despite being led by serial-winning boss Antonio Conte.
Wilder lauded Chelsea’s winning mentality in his immediate reaction to the defeat against Tuchel’s men. But when comparing the Stamford Bridge club to Spurs and United, he suggested that the lack of managerial stability is responsible for the chasm between the sides.
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“We played a full hit Man United, a full hit Tottenham and a full hit Chelsea,” Wilder said at full-time. “We hung in there with United and beat them on penalties. We fully deserved it versus Tottenham and we couldn’t find the right defensive moments tonight.
“Chelsea just find a way. It is the mentality of the group led by an incredible manager. They have stability with Thomas coming in and the other two clubs maybe don’t have that.
“Their skipper (Cesar Azpilicueta), Thiago (Silva) and (Antonio) Rudiger just want to win and that’s why they win things and are champions.”
United are still on the hunt for a new permanent manager to replace Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with German coach Rangnick carrying out his interim duties before starting a consultancy role next season. Mauricio Pochettino and Erik Ten Hag have been linked as the favourites for the United hot-seat, but a lack of clarity is concerning as the club look to rebuild after a fifth trophyless year.
Spurs, meanwhile, still have an outside chance of a top four spot under Conte after sacking Nuno Espirito Santo following an ill-fated brief spell at the start of the season. Both clubs have lost a sense of direction of late but Chelsea have been set up to succeed on the pitch as they prepare for yet another trip to Wembley.