‘He should never play for Chelsea again’: Kepa slammed after refusing to be subbed by manager Sarri
With the teams deadlocked at 0-0 approaching the end of extra time, Sarri had signaled for Kepa, 24, to be replaced by veteran goalie Willy Caballero - apparently believing the Spanish youngster was struggling with cramp.
But Kepa refused to leave the pitch, signaling to his Italian boss that he wanted to stay put, despite remonstrations from teammates.Also on rt.com Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa REFUSES to be substituted, sending manager Sarri into meltdown
Sarri eventually backed down, but flew into a rage and reportedly had to be separated from Kepa once the final whistle had gone.
This is unbelievable! 🙀🙀— Soccer AM (@SoccerAM) February 24, 2019
⛔ Kepa refuses to be substituted
😡 Sarri loses his cool, throws a bottle and storms off down the tunnel!
Have you ever seen anything like this in a cup final before?!? 😲😲 pic.twitter.com/uypwckJvhH
To make matters worse, Kepa was unable to prevent City taking the title on penalties, saving just one spot-kick as Jorginho and David Luiz both missed the mark for the Blues.
But after the defeat, most of the talk among the pundits and fans on social media was on the astonishing show of insubordination from Kepa towards Sarri, who was already under-fire amid accusations that the players lacked motivation.
Former Chelsea striker Chris Sutton, now a BBC pundit, fumed: “Kepa should never play for Chelsea again. that should be his last performance in a Chelsea shirt. He's a disgrace. I've never seen anything like it.
“If I was Sarri I would walk. You cannot be undermined. Why weren't the players dragging Kepa off anyway?
“Kepa should be sacked, not Sarri.”
Not much to talk about on #BBC606 😱@chris_sutton73: “Kepa should never play for Chelsea again. He’s a disgrace. He’s undermined his manager. It’s disgusting. Never seen anything like it. If I was Sarri I would walk.”— BBC 5 Live Sport (@5liveSport) February 24, 2019
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Many fellow football fans agreed with Sutton, branding the goalie a “disgrace.”
Kepa is a disgrace. He's messed everything up. Sarri cannot be sacked after this. He simply can't. Today was an example of player power at Chelsea. Kepa thought of himself instead of the team and it cost everyone. Disgraceful.— Younes H-Hamou (@youneshh) February 24, 2019
I can’t say I have ever seen a player undermine a manager like Kepa did with Sarri, he should be fined and suspended, the disrespect he showed the manager was unbelievable, he lets himself, the manager, his team mates, and his club down.— MR DT © (@MrDtAFC) February 24, 2019
Others picked up on an apparent wink the Chelsea ‘keeper had given the camera after extra time and just before the shootout.
Kepa even had the cheek to wink at the camera after the game.. pic.twitter.com/hvhUe820us— Arsenal (@ffarsenalfc) February 24, 2019
Some, meanwhile, mocked the notion that the young Spaniard, who signed for Chelsea for £71 million in the summer, was now in effect the Chelsea manager.
Shame for kepa really, must be devastating losing his first cup final as Chelsea manager.— ImAllexx (@ImAllexx) February 24, 2019
Sarri himself moved to defuse the tensions after the game, saying that he had believed Kepa was struggling from cramp, and asserting that he would speak to his goalkeeper.
Maurizio Sarri says the Kepa substitution confusion was 'a big misunderstanding' because he thought the player had cramp. However he says Kepa was right that he could continue although the way he went about it was wrong. Sarri says he needs to talk to Kepa now. #CHEMCI— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) February 24, 2019
But nonetheless the astonishing bust-up marred what had been a much-improved performance from Chelsea, and will ultimately fuel talk that Sarri is on borrowed time as the Blues' boss.