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Rob Green, Hero of Baku, tells tall tales of Sarri-ball at ‘rudderless ship’ Chelsea

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...and then everyone in the dressing room clapped

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Chelsea v Arsenal - UEFA Europa League Final Photo by Francois Nel/Getty Images

Rob Green emerged into the light of public consciousness towards the end of his Chelsea career, ironically appointed the Hero of Baku by the Chelsea social media team after our magnificent 4-1 win over Arsenal in the Europa League final. We all had a good laugh with the third goalkeeper and at the expense of the Gunners, and moved on with our lives.

Green did, too, retiring from playing (again) and calling it quits at Chelsea after just one season as the anonymous and obviously unused third backup. He had bigger fish to fry, like helping players post-retirement, including with their mental health — yet to actually start that yet, it would seem — getting into art dealing (huh?), and talking a lot. The man has made more headlines in the last six months than in the last six years as he’s aired a series of supposedly candid behind-the-scenes exposes from the Chelsea training ground.

To what degree any of those have been true is unclear. But they all play into this Hero of Baku persona, often at the expense of everyone’s favorite punching bag, Maurizio Sarri. Rob Green, hero, leader, wannabe legend.

Here’s his latest on the lives and times of Sarri-ballers in the SW6, still trying to cling to relevancy.

“I was thinking to myself, ‘I can’t have this’. I turned to Sarri and said, ‘Look, you are in a really difficult position and I understand that because there is stuff going on at this club that I can see, you can see and no one on the outside can see, so I get you’ but all the while I was thinking, ‘I’m going to give him both barrels in a minute’.

Lock-n-load.

“I just spelled it out. I told him, ‘You have no plan B. You’re a transactional kind of manager. The players in the group are not the kind to speak to you like this — they care very much but are scared to say something to you, like I am. I don’t care because what are you going to do — drop me!?’

He’s already pulled over! He can’t pull over any farther!

“I spoke for 15 minutes. A lot of players said afterwards that they enjoyed me saying that: ‘You said what I wanted to say but I couldn’t say it’. Obviously, if they had, it could have affected their place in the team or their future at the club. Two of the assistant coaches, Gianfranco Zola and Carlo Cudicini, said something along the lines of, ‘That was brilliant. We’ve been trying but we are in a compromised position as well in that it is a very hierarchical style and there isn’t a lot of feedback coming in return’.

“How did Sarri take it? We were all walking out of the room at the end and he was standing at the door. I was thinking, ‘Oh fuck, I’m dead’ but he shook my hand and said, ‘Thank you, that’s the first time anyone has made me think at a meeting’. The thing is, it didn’t change anything.”

We should’ve made Greeno the manager.

It is perhaps not coincidence that not long after this Braveheart moment — which still lacks sufficient detail about just what he “spelled out” for Sarri — Kepa Arrizabalaga staged a miscommunication/mutiny on the Wembley pitch. That’s either a good thing or a bad thing, depending how you view this whole scenario and Green’s supposed influence in all of it.

In any case, Rob With All The Answers also goes on to retread popular talking points like Sarri being a former banker, his tactics being very rigid, his training very boring, and all his success due to a certain Eden Hazard, who didn’t follow any tactical instructions and just did whatever he wanted.

“It was another sign of the rudderless ship.

“Eden was one of the strongest characters in the dressing room and certainly the best player. I remember the 4-1 win over Cardiff early on (in September 2018). We had 10 players playing Sarri-ball and Eden doing whatever he wanted. He scored a hat-trick and was named man of the match.

“Sarri praised him as one of the best in the world afterwards. But he’d done nothing he was told to do. [...] You can come up with your rigid plans but if you have a guy who is that good, just get him the ball, like for the West Ham goal in April where he ran through them.”

-Rob Green; source: The Athletic

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Green also has some big hits to dish out against Fabio Capello at England and Avram Grant at West Ham, and then get back to selling paintings to footballers because that’s a thing. You can read all about it in The Athletic, and make Greeno happy by keeping him in the spotlight a bit longer.