Contribution post from Jamie Glenie, Edited and added words by Simon Phillips
Chelsea were bravely beaten by Manchester City on Sunday evening in the Carabao Cup Final, albeit narrowly by half an inch of a goal post. David Luiz was the victim of the woodwork this time around, causing heartache for Chelsea supporters who saw their team deservedly take City to penalties. Yesterday I saw what was a clear statement by the players that they care for the badge.
Unfortunately though, the ‘Kepa vs Sarri’ saga will prove to be an ordeal that will inevitably overshadow a tactical masterclass by Maurizio Sarri.
Regarding the incident, there is no doubt that the Chelsea No.1 made a fundamental error by refusing to obey his manager’s orders, and by remaining on the pitch despite his substitution being presented on the board.
However, to argue that Kepa should “never play for Chelsea ever again” as a result of his “insolence”, as some media and supporters believe, is to merely take the one-sided, lazy, and un-analytical stance that the media inherently take, in order to create stimulating news.
As a young and passionate Spaniard with a huge price-tag on his head playing in his first cup final, and being someone that clearly cares about the club, there’s no doubt that partaking in this shootout meant a lot to Chelsea’s man between the sticks. For him to deny a substitution that, in his eyes, is merely premised on him being injured, is not the act of insolence and disobedience that the press will lead you to believe, but merely an honest mistake underpinned by raw emotion and the desire to take part in a shootout.
As a young player looking to make his way in the world’s most competitive league, Kepa will inevitably make mistakes along the way and he will realise that he has made an error, but he will be hurting after having lost his first cup final at his new side, and the last thing he should be met with is anger and criticism, when he merely had the club’s best intentions in mind.
Kepa has since explained that he stayed down, in order to allow rest time for the players, who were at the time, under the cosh. But he reiterated to Chelsea’s medical staff that he was not injured, but this got lost in translation between the staff and Maurizio Sarri, hence causing the incident. Kepa believed that Sarri was taking him off because he thought he was injured, which he was not – so the goalkeeper was attempting to let Sarri know he was fine. Should he have still come off? Yes. Was it disrespectful? Yes. But his intentions, under the heat of the moment, were not meant to be disrespectful, he merely wanted to play on. And the situation has definitely been massively blown up by the media and some supporters, which is a total over reaction.
This is not his first mistake in a Chelsea shirt, and it will certainly not be his last. But one should remember that it’s not our losses that define us, but instead how we respond to those losses. I undoubtedly believe that Kepa and Sarri’s revolutionised Chelsea squad will respond well after proving what they’re capable of once again against the Premier League’s best.
Contributed by Jamie Glenie