Moving almost as fast as after the Kepa “incident” in the League Cup final (when it also didn’t really work), Chelsea have engaged the PR machine and hit the big red emergency damage control button after “HatGate” in Tuesday evening’s training session in Baku.
As caught on the TV cameras trained on the (“fully open” as scheduled, as it turns out) training session, the HULLABALOO IN BAKU appeared to be a reaction to some sort of issue between David Luiz and Gonzalo Higuain, but a Chelsea spokesperson has played that down. As reported by ESPN’s Liam Twomey, and several others, the reason for Sarri’s sour mood was that he wasn’t able to practice set pieces as he intended to at the end of the session because the aforementioned cameras would’ve revealed all his secrets.
Apparently that’s reason enough to kick your hat down the tunnel.
A Chelsea spokesman on Sarri HatGate: “Maurizio’s frustration displayed at the end of training was not related to any of his players, but was due to not being able to practise set-plays in the final 15 minutes of the hour-long training session as it remained open to media.” #cfc— Liam Twomey (@liam_twomey) May 28, 2019
Trouble is, I’m not really sure this makes the situation any better. It might be worse this way, in fact.
So Sarri threw a fit not because his players were misbehaving or some other random nonsense, but because he didn’t realize or wasn’t told that the session would be public? The former would mean that his reaction could be re-purposed as a teaching moment or as a catalyst to shock the system back into compliance and concentration. The latter would be a childish reaction to a minor setback, which then directly translates to a negative impact on the squad — not to mention that UEFA had made it quite clear that the training will be “fully open”.
Even if that PR line is the real reason, and Sarri was ready to drill home some genius free kick routine that would win us the trophy — which, based on the season itself, would’ve been unlikely — surely he could’ve at least finished out the session with his players (whom he so loves!) instead of making a scene and storming off the pitch. For all his criticism of the players’ mentalities this season, this was a weaker reaction than any of Chelsea’s second-half collapses.
On the plus side, we’re now surely winning this thing tomorrow, right?