Late last night, Chelsea Football Club, on behalf of Kepa Arrizabalaga and Maurizio Sarri, released two statements regarding the incident took place in Sunday’s Carabao Cup Final against Manchester City.
For those who have not seen the incident, here’s what happened:
Both Kepa and Sarri initially brushed it off as a ‘misunderstanding’ but after talks between the Spanish keeper and his Italian boss, Arrizabalaga has since personally apologised to Sarri and publically to the fans for his public display of defiance.
‘I was very happy to play in my first Cup Final for Chelsea yesterday and very proud of the team performance. I have thought a lot more about yesterday’s events. Although there was a misunderstanding, on reflection, I made a big mistake with how I handled the situation. I wanted to take the time today to apologise fully and in person to the coach, to Willy, my team-mates and to the club. I have done this and now I want to offer the same apology to the fans. I will learn from this episode and will accept any punishment or discipline the club decides is appropriate.’
‘Kepa and I have spoken about the incident. It was a good conversation. There was a misunderstanding yesterday but he realises he made a big mistake in the way he reacted. He has apologised to me, his team-mates and the club. It is up to the club if they want to discipline him according to the club rules, but for me this matter is now closed. The team performance as a whole was extremely positive and it is a shame to see how this incident has overshadowed our efforts in what was a very competitive Cup Final. Everyone’s focus is now on the next game and we must all now put this behind us.’
The club also made the decision to fine Kepa one week’s wages, which will be donated to the Chelsea Foundation.
That’s it, the matter is closed. End of. But I just want to mention one more thing.
By fining Kepa, the club has actually come out and BACKED Sarri and NOT the players. And that was the right thing to do. Why you ask?
By fining Kepa, the club is sending out the right message before Wednesday massive game against Tottenham Hotspur. That message is that no player, no matter how good they are or important they are to the team, is bigger the club. The club will always be bigger.
This also sets the perfect tone for Wednesday in that all controversy and nonsense that has happened so far this season needs to stop. Not just for the rest of the season, but for good.
Finally… And I hope that this is the case… that I speak on behalf of Chelsea fans around the world in that this moment is the turning of the tide for the club’s long-term future. That change is coming. Change to the club’s mindset, change to the apparent ‘player power’, change in player selection and most importantly, showing change to how we back our manager(s) from now on.
I for one feel that it’s a great decision by the club to publicly back Sarri. Back him now and continue to back him for the rest of the season, no matter how it pans out. The short-termism that is rife within our club needs to come to an end. Time to think towards the future, long-term wise.
And I speak for many, if not the majority even in that I’d rather have Sarri lay the foundations for our future than anyone else. Not club legends (who we will call upon when the time is right) who have been managing for five minutes, not unproven assistants, or managers who have been enjoying multi-year holidays waiting for their next big payday.
With all that has been said recently – whether you’ve been ‘for’ or ‘against’ Sarri, the players and the board – it’s time for everyone to move on, together.
The club. The players. The fans… EVERYONE.
The club and everyone involved with Sunday’s incident has resolved the issue behind closed doors and that should be the end of it.
Since Sunday night, the talk hasn’t been about how well Chelsea played or even about Man City retaining the League Cup and keeping their quadruple dreams alive. It’s all been about ‘KepaGate’.
If the press had their way, they would talk about the incident until the end of the time as they’re that desperate to fill pages and time in the 24/7 world of talking nonsen… I mean the news industry.
Let them talk, it’s time for us to move on to more important things.
That starts with Tottenham Hotspur.
Whatever rage you have towards Sarri, or Kepa, or the club or anyone else for that matter right now… channel it and aim it directly at Spurs on Wednesday night.
We have a genuine chance to ‘restart’ our season tomorrow. The unbeaten start we had feels like a lifetime ago. It’s time to get back there. And the only way to do so is to forget what has recently happened, move on from all the doom and gloom and back everyone…