Before the EFL Cup final on Sunday, most football fans expected Chelsea to be blown away by Manchester City, again. The previous meeting between both sides, just a few days before, had ended in a 6-0 win for City.
By the 66th minute, only one shot-on-target had been registered. Chelsea’s style of play was extremely difficult for Pep Guardiola’s men to break down. In the end, the game had to be settled via penalties, which Manchester City won. It was the first time the Manchester side retained a trophy in their history.
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The game would have been long forgotten by now but for the incident that happened towards the end of the game. Chelsea goalkeeper, Kepa Arrizabalaga, refused to come off the pitch after the fourth official signaled for his substitution.
It was a tale of two sides, one that you rarely see in the world of football. On one side, there was Kepa, the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, blatantly disobeying the manager’s call. His body language showed, clearly, that he was determined to stay on and finish the game as the one in goal.
This kind of behavior is what managers like Jose Mourinho complained about. Kepa showed, once again, how player power is on the rise. A player refusing the instructions of the manager is totally unacceptable. It undermines the authority of the manager, and it puts the club in a bad light.
On the other hand, there was Maurizio Sarri, the manager who had complained about how difficult it was to motivate Chelsea players. To say he was livid is to put things lightly. The Italian, at some point, was going to leave the field in anger. Can you blame him?
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His goalkeeper had just made him look like a fool in front of millions. He had been made to look like a manager who did not have a hold on his players and the dressing room. Sarri, with that incident, was portrayed in a bad light, as a manager who wasn’t respected well enough.
Of course, with this kind of incident, different people will have different conclusions. So many people will throw so many reasons around.
However, under no circumstance should a player disregard his manager’s orders. And even if such a move must be made, it shouldn’t be in front of millions of people watching all over the world. He may be the world’s most expensive goalkeeper, but the 24-year old chose the wrong time to make his move.
And it’s largely expected that he’d face some sort of punishment. The question is, what kind of punishment will it be? Let’s pause and assume you were the Chelsea manager and your goalkeeper did this to you, in a final? What would you do to such player?
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