Maurizio Sarri played down complaints from Gary Cahill following the departing defender’s outburst ahead of Chelsea’s final home Premier League game of the season.
In an interview with The Telegraph, published on the day of the Blues’ 3-0 win against Watford, Cahill accused the Italian of showing him a lack of respect.
Cahill had played just 21 minutes of top-flight football in 2018-19 prior to being brought off the bench against Watford for the final stages of the match.
And Sarri insists it was always part of his plan to give the centre-back a chance to say farewell to the club’s supporters ahead of his impending exit.
— Chelsea FC (@ChelseaFC) May 5, 2019
“I don’t know the situation, I’m sorry. It’s not important for me,” he said at his post-match news conference. “Cahill, during the season, was really very professional.
“He played only five, six or seven matches, but he was really very important in the training ground, in the dressing room.
“Today was his last match for Chelsea, so it was important for him to be on the pitch, only for a few minutes but I still think it was really very important for the fans and for him.
“Here, Gary won everything. And so I think he had to say goodbye to the stadium, to the fans, to the club.”
FULL TIME Chelsea 3-0 Watford
— Premier League (@premierleague) May 5, 2019
Chelsea were jeered by their supporters at the end of a goalless first half, only for second-half goals from Ruben Loftus-Cheek, David Luiz and Gonzalo Higuain to change the mood around Stamford Bridge on a day when Chelsea were finally assured of a top-four finish, with Arsenal dropping points against Brighton and Hove Albion.
“In the first half, we were not able to play simply,” said Sarri. “We were not able to think in a simple way. When you are not brilliant, physically, you have to move the ball, one touch or two touches.
“The ball is not tired. The man is tired. And so, in the second half, we did it better, better and better, probably because something changed in our minds after the first goal.
“I didn’t say anything at half-time. I think that, in the first half, we were in trouble because we were tired: physically and mentally. Then, in the second half, they lowered their intensity so we were in control of the match. We were lucky, of course, because we scored after two minutes.
“After the first goal, probably we improved mentally and we were able to play very well for 30-35 minutes. In the first half we were tired and in trouble – I think tired more mentally than physically.”
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