No matter what you think of Maurizio Sarri, he didn’t deserve to be undermined by Kepa Arrizabalaga

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Disgraceful. No other word for it.

No matter what you think of Maurizio Sarri and the job he’s doing at Chelsea – no-one deserves this.

Embarrassed by one of his own. Undermined in front of 80,000 people – not to mention the millions watching across the world.

Maurizio Sarri intended to introduce substitute Willy Caballero in the Carabao Cup Final

Maurizio Sarri intended to introduce substitute Willy Caballero in the Carabao Cup Final

Maurizio Sarri intended to introduce substitute Willy Caballero in the Carabao Cup Final

Kepa Arrizabalaga – and those in Chelsea blue who let it happen – hang your heads in shame.

When your number appears on the substitution board, you walk off. Simple as that.

Quite how Arrizabalaga had the temerity to openly refuse his manager’s decision beggars belief.

Exactly who do you think you are? You have absolutely sold your manager down the river. Utterly despicable.

Perhaps there’s an argument to suggest Sarri was too soft. The Italian shouldn’t have allowed his goalkeeper to get away with such downright defiance.

24-year-old Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to leave the field in the final moments of extra-time

24-year-old Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to leave the field in the final moments of extra-time

24-year-old Kepa Arrizabalaga refused to leave the field in the final moments of extra-time

Maybe that argument’s valid. But what do you expect him to do drag Arrizabalaga off by his ears?

Sarri, if he has anything about him, shouldn’t select the Spanish goalkeeper ever again. Though you get the impression Arrizabalaga will be around far longer than his manager.

Sarri was irate, even appearing to walk down the tunnel before the ensuing penalty shoot-out before thinking better of it.

If this was to be Sarri’s last hurrah as Chelsea manager, it’s an undeserved way to bow out.

And it was all going so swimmingly wasn’t it?

At Wembley, Sarri did exactly what he said he wouldn’t: he changed.

The Chelsea goalkeeper undermined his manager in front of 80,000 people at Wembley

The Chelsea goalkeeper undermined his manager in front of 80,000 people at Wembley

The Chelsea goalkeeper undermined his manager in front of 80,000 people at Wembley

The Italian abandoned his principles; he ditched Sarriball.

Maurizio, well done for doing so. Your tactics, team selection and substitutions were spot on.

He took Pep Guardiola’s all-conquering team all the way to penalties – only to lose.

But will it be enough to save his job? The likely answer to that question is no.

Maybe after Arrizabalaga’s antics, he doesn’t want to Chelsea manager any longer.

But it begs the question: where has THIS Sarri been all season. A Sarri open to adapting his tactics, altering his philosophy for the sake of results.

Because here at Wembley, the underfire Italian witnessed first hand just what might be possible if he’d consider showing a semblance of fluidity in his approach a little more often.

At times, the Carabao Cup Final resembled a training session; attack versus defence.

Chelsea, for large parts of the game, soaking up all that City threw at them. Granted, as an attacking force, Chelsea were virtually non-existent in the first-half.

Sarri looked desperate as he urged Kepa to leave the field with a penalty shootout looming

Sarri looked desperate as he urged Kepa to leave the field with a penalty shootout looming

Sarri looked desperate as he urged Kepa to leave the field with a penalty shootout looming

Up until the the 44th minute Chelsea had had just one touch inside the opposing penalty area – a misdirected David Luiz header that almost set-up a City counter attack.

The purists may moan. They may have a point.

This was a cup final after all, and cup finals are there to be won.

But Chelsea have taken the game to Manchester City before – we all know how that turned out.

Four goals down in 25 minutes – six without reply by the end two weeks ago at the Etihad Stadium.

So who can blame Sarri for shutting up shop yesterday? Common sense suggests it’s the right thing to do.

The Spaniard let Sergio Aguero's penalty slip through his fingers as City claimed victory

The Spaniard let Sergio Aguero's penalty slip through his fingers as City claimed victory

The Spaniard let Sergio Aguero’s penalty slip through his fingers as City claimed victory

To a degree, you have to admire Sarri for sticking to his guns. There’s something romantic about his faith in his philosophy when Chelsea’s season has been capitulating before his very eyes.

Ironically, Sarri’s reluctance to nurture a plan B have resulted in his own players privately questioning his methods.

But here at Wembley, Sarri provided tangible evidence that he isn’t just a one trick pony.

Deploying Eden Hazard as a false nine certainly had a significant element of risk about it.

For starters, the Belgian hates playing there – he’s made that clear publicly and privately.

Secondly, having pleaded with Chelsea to sign him Gonzalo Higuain last month – and then proceed not to play him in a cup final would certainly have raised eyebrows among those who are so close to pulling the trigger on his Stamford Bridge reign.

Sarri's position appears to be untenable after the penalty shootout defeat by Manchester City

Sarri's position appears to be untenable after the penalty shootout defeat by Manchester City

Sarri’s position appears to be untenable after the penalty shootout defeat by Manchester City

But he was prepared to take that risk in search of greater defensive stability. It worked a treat.

Hazard was – all 5ft 8ins of him – was colossal. Dangerous during Chelsea’s ventures forward. Disciplined in defence when City were in possession. Immense.

Of course, Sarri’s learned the hard way. But it appears that 6-0 defeat to Manchester City earlier this month was something of a light bulb moment.

Gradually, Chelsea flexed their attacking muscles – an N’Golo Kante opportunity midway through the second half worthy of particular note.

The fear, of course, for Sarri is that this will all be too little too late.

After Kepa’s abhorrent behaviour, why would he want to remain in charge anyway.

 



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