Blog#35 – Kepa’s first game in charge didn’t quite go to plan…

I won’t write another blog about Chelsea.

I won’t write another blog about Chelsea.

Hey everyone, did you hear about what happened in the League Cup final between Chelsea FC and Manchester City?

Damn it, Chelsea!

We need to talk about this situation because last time I checked, when your manager wants to substitute you for another player, you walk to the sideline. You give the player incoming player a quick high five and take your spot on the bench. But when Kepa Arrizabalaga wanted to substitute Maurizio… sorry, when Maurizio Sarri wanted to substitute Kepa Arrizabalaga, he waved his manager away.

The Spanish goalkeeper appeared to be suffering from cramps as the League Cup final approached its penalty shootout finale. Willy Caballero was brought up from the bench to replace Kepa on the field for the rest of the match. Sarri believed it would be best to have a keeper in goals who was not suffering from cramps during a penalty shootout, seems logical.

Yet Kepa defied Sarri’s decision and refused to be substituted, constantly waving to the Chelsea bench that he did not need to be substituted and was fine to continue playing. Sarri lost his temper on the touch line and could not understand why Kepa was undermining his decision.

After this late drama, Chelsea lost the game on penalties. But had the drama not occurred, would Chelsea of won the cup final? Unfortunately we will never know.

During a post match interview, Kepa explained to the media that this was all just a misunderstanding and he thought Sarri knew he was ok to continue, as the medics had attended to him multiple times.

But regardless of the comments made by Kepa after the match and the comments made by Sarri, stating that this was all just a misunderstanding, Caballero was ready to come onto the field. The substitution was in progress. Kepa should of accepted that the decision was made, instead of sending the match into total confusion for the following couple of minutes.

There is unfortunately no official ruling that states a player needs to come off the field when their manager requests a substitution. The rules only state that, “if a player who is to be replaced refuses to leave the field of play, play continues.” Which it eventually did.

But such is the ego of these young, over priced, over paid footballers. One can only assume that this is the start of something bigger and may even become trend. More players might follow suit and start making their own tactical decision to stay on the field, instead of listening to the one person who is employed to make those decisions. Do we still need managers? Smh. 

Now to put this into perspective, Kepa cost Chelsea FC £71.6 million. The most expensive goalkeeper in the world and Chelsea’s record signing, and I think that this price tag has finally gone to his head. Kepa is now aware that if he were to be left out of Chelsea’s next match, the board members and the owner, Roman Abramovich, would be quick in pulling out the whip on Sarri, reminding him that it would only cost £5 million to remove him from his position, (they can sack me for £5 million).

Could we theorise that maybe this was a plot against the Italian manager? The egotistical keeper winked at the cameras after Chelsea had lost to Manchester City in the penalty shootout. From that moment, it became apparent that this could be the start of something a lot bigger then just goalkeeper undermining his manager. And maybe this is all part of some well constructed ‘plot’ to have the Italian removed from this post.

Now if we were to flip the table on this situation, and hypothetically it was Raheem Sterling who refused to be substituted when Pep Guardiola requested it. Sterling would be out of that squad quicker than it would take for him to dive to the ground after an imaginary challenge from an opposing player. Even if this situation occurred, everyone at Manchester City would put their backing behind Pep. Such is the respect and reputation he has with the citizens.

To make matters worse, this unfortunately isn’t the first time a player has refused to be substituted with the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic, (Zlatan only substitutes himself), Carlos Tevez, Lionel Messi and Christiano Ronaldo all defying their manager orders.

But regardless of who the player is, they should respect their manager’s decisions. One player is never bigger than the team they play for. I believe that Kepa should tuck his tail between his legs and start handing out apologies to everybody.

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