Former Chelsea player-manager Ruud Gullit dismissed Maurizio Sarri’s explanation of his clash with Kepa Arrizabalaga in the EFL Cup final, claiming it was merely a “political answer”.
Sarri was furious late in extra time against Manchester City as Kepa, who had twice gone down injured, appeared to refuse his coach’s substitution, with Willy Caballero ready to come on.
The match finished 0-0 and Kepa then let Sergio Aguero’s poor penalty slip under his body in the shoot-out, with Sarri seemingly having to be kept away from the goalkeeper at the end of the 120 minutes.
Later, both player and coach explained the incident away as a “misunderstanding”, but Gullit is sceptical of that defence.
The Netherlands great, who spent almost three years at Chelsea, managing the team in the latter two, believes Sarri’s crazed actions on the touchline betrayed his true feelings on the matter.
“The captain [Cesar Azpilicueta] should have gone up to [Kepa] and said ‘Go off’,” Gullit told BBC Sport.
“[Sarri’s response] is just a political answer for the newspapers so there is no confusion the next day. Everybody knows what happened. The way he reacted on the touchline says everything.”
— kepa Arrizabalaga (@kepa_46) February 24, 2019
Gullit says he would not have accepted a similar stance from a player when he was coach, describing Sarri’s decision to back down and allow Kepa to stay on as “crazy”.
“You would go crazy,” he said. “After a while, he had to accept the fact that he didn’t want to go off. That was crazy.
“He had to stay there and say ‘You have to come off now’.”
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