The media forces of darkness have been marshaled. According to them, Chelsea have mutinied. Sarri has lost all control. The inmates are truly running the asylum, dogs and cats are mating, Sarri-ball is dead and buried, etc.
But people on the inside, at least the ones who are talking, speak of a much less dramatic situation. And whether what they are saying is the actual truth, just the fact that they agree in assigning far less significance to this than the outside world speaks of a certain level of unity behind the scenes — closed ranks, us vs. them: classic team-building concepts that might actually serve us well in the future.
The man who was closest (literally) to Kepa throughout this whole thing was David Luiz. And while Sarri’s number one fan revealed afterwards that the told Kepa that Sarri’s decision must be respected, he also understands how the misunderstanding came about, with both parties working with incomplete information.
“I just said to him we have to respect the decision of the coach.
“But, I don’t know if the coach wanted to change him because he was feeling pain or it was his [tactical] decision. I think the coach he wished to do the substitution because [he was not sure] of the injury, he didn’t understand that.
“[Kepa] was telling us he was good. He was okay. The game sometimes you don’t have much time to explain things, it’s okay.”
-David Luiz; source: Sky
Miscommunication appears to be the crux of this issue — miscommunication between coach and player, between coach and medical staff, and so on — but that’s something that can be hashed out back at Cobham, away from he prying eyes of the world. So while it’s unfortunate that the incident was blown up by both Kepa’s and Sarri’s reactions (not to mention the still ongoing media frenzy), it’s likely something that can be solved easily face-to-face on the training ground.
Sure, there is a chance that six months from now, new details will be revealed of an irreparably broken relationship (Conte vs. Costa comes to mind), but in terms of the professional setting that is a football club, they can work together just fine either way.
Rüdiger, who was seen having to calm down Sarri just ahead of the penalty shootout — incidentally, Sarri’s own over the top reaction is not getting the examination it should be getting (much like how Mourinho escaped scrutiny for going after Marco Ianni in that silly incident earlier this season) — believes everything will be fine once Kepa and the head coach talk things over like mature adults in less stressful circumstances.
“This is something the coach and the player have to speak about.
“I cannot say much about it. I think, for sure, the coach and the goalkeeper will speak about it and everything will be fine.”
-Antonio Rüdiger; source: Viasport via Mirror
It would indeed be a bit ironic if Chelsea came out stronger for all this nonsense. The narrative expects Sarri to get sacked any minute (probably after losing on Wednesday to Spurs). But perhaps this is the turning point, on and off the pitch.