Former Chelsea duo wade strongly into Kepa, Sarri debacle
Pat Nevin feels the Kepa Arrizabalaga substitution furore hugely undermines Maurizio Sarri’s position as Chelsea head coach and puts him in a near-impossible position.
Kepa’s refusal to be replaced with penalties looming in Sunday’s Carabao Cup final at Wembley overshadowed Manchester City’s 4-3 shootout win, with the likes of Jose Mourinho, predictably, among those having their say.
It also hinted at tensions at Chelsea, Nevin says, despite protestations from Sarri, Kepa and others that it was all a misunderstanding.
Nevin told BBC Radio 5 Live: “What he (Sarri) has to do now is to make sure Kepa knows that he was in the wrong.
“They’re saying now it’s not a problem, it’s a little misunderstanding etc.
“That absolutely does weaken his position and make it look as if the player had more power than him.”
Reports on Monday claimed Chelsea had decided not to punish the Spaniard for his actions – something former Chelsea defender Mario Melchiot is very much against after he explained why Kepa deserves to be rebuked.
However, given the public stance Chelsea have taken, Melchiot says Sarri cannot now drop Kepa for Wednesday’s match with Tottenham as the furore would continue.
Melchiot told Sky Sports News: “If you say it is a misunderstanding, you can’t drop him, and you can’t fine him because if you do people are going to find out.
“They have to move on from it, but I definitely think they are going to call him to one side and at least talk to him, saying ‘you can’t do this again’.
“You are creating now a player that looks in this situation stronger than the whole team. So I expect Chelsea at least to say we have to talk to him because this is embarrassing.”
Former Chelsea captain John Terry insisted that Sarri had to deal with the problem immediately after the game and felt the incident was indicative of a manager in trouble.
“If I was in there [dressing room] I’d be expecting the manager to come in and deal with it instantly,” he told Sky Sports.
“It leaves Sarri in a tough place – I’m surprised he didn’t force him to come off.
“It will be interesting how it pans out in the next 24 hours for the club.”
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