Watching Chelsea defy the pundits and put on a more than decent display to take Manchester City to the wire, in the Carabao Cup, yesterday, showed that there is hope for the future.
With Maurizio Sarri going against his normal convention and making changes to his starting eleven, as well as introducing substitutions that went against the norm, it’s fair to say that Chelsea could have won the tie with the best chance falling to N’Gola Kante who, latching on to a pass from Eden Hazard, after a marvellous run from the Belgian, couldn’t keep the ball down and it skewed over the bar.
But, in typical Chelsea style, the loss on penalties was overshadowed by an extraordinary turn of events that saw Kepa, after having gone down with cramp a second time, in the latter stages of extra-time, refuse to be substituted.
Now it was one of those events that you can either make a big deal of or simply put down to a misunderstanding, but, with it being Chelsea, you just knew the media would take the former view.
According to the media, Kepa is now public enemy #1 with the Spaniard having defied his manager in a manner that was inexplicable.
Our view, and it may contradict yours, is that Kepa was merely trying to convince those on the touchline that he was fit to continue.
Okay, Caballero may have an excellent record in penalty shoot-outs but if there was a pre-conceived plan to switch keepers late on, I’m pretty damn sure that Kepa would have, despite not being particularly pleased, play ball.
Perhaps the confusion got to Sarri who stomped his way down the Wembley tunnel, in an obvious rage.
But, once the dust had settled, Sarri, explaining the situation and as reported by the BBC,
“I misunderstood the problem and only realised the situation when the doctor arrived at the bench.
“He understood I asked for a change for his physical problem. He said: ‘I haven’t a physical problem.’
And he was right.”
Whereas Kepa, being portrayed by the media as the footballing equivalent of Judas, backed up those comments by commenting:
“It was misunderstood. In no moment was it my intention to disobey or anything like that with the boss.
“It was two or three minutes of confusion until the medics got to the bench and they explained everything well.
“He thought I couldn’t continue, and – fundamentally – I was trying to say that physically I was fine.”
Now I’m prepared to believe the above version of events but it seems, as is always the case, the media are intent on getting their pound of flesh out of our club.
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