The Italian manager’s future at Stamford Bridge was cast into further doubt after the goalkeeper’s extraordinary actions in the Carabao Cup final
Chelsea must clarify Maurizio Sarri’s future at the club after he was defied by Kepa Arrizabalaga in the Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City, according to Michael Ballack.
Having gone down for a second time with apparent cramp, Kepa refused to go off in extra time of Sunday’s encounter at Wembley, much to Sarri’s frustration, with Willy Caballero ready to come on.
The game finished 0-0 after 120 minutes but City eventually won on penalties – Chelsea’s goalkeeper failing to keep out Sergio Aguero’s tame spot-kick before making a fine save to deny Leroy Sane, with Raheem Sterling hammering home the winning effort.
Both Sarri and Kepa played down the incident as a misunderstanding but Ballack, who won five major trophies at Chelsea between 2006 and 2010, believes the club must now provide clarity on their manager’s future.
“It’s a shame because they played a good game against a really strong team in a final, a special situation,” Ballack told talkSPORT.
“The players stood up, the last chance to win a trophy for Chelsea in a domestic cup [this season].
“They played well, they were focused and followed the instructions of the coach and it seemed like the plan went well until the end. They deserved something.
“It’s not a nice situation, but they have to sort it out with the club. The board have to say something because it’s really important that the players respect the coach, respect each other because something shouldn’t happen like that.”
Former Chelsea captain John Terry – currently an assistant at Aston Villa – said on Sunday that if he had been the manager, he would have gone onto the pitch to force Kepa off, insisting that once a player’s number is shown, they must make way.
And Ballack agreed with his former club-mate, although he believes the Chelsea players on the pitch should have done more.
“I’ve never seen anything like it. If your number is shown on the board, it’s time to leave the pitch,” Ballack said.
“If the coach has decided something, you should follow that process. I was surprised by the reaction of the team.
“Normally a team-mate is frustrated for a certain reason, but this was important to make a quick sub before the penalties. Normally you go and speak to him to speed up the situation.”
Chelsea have little time to dwell on Sunday’s result, with Tottenham visiting Stamford Bridge in the Premier League on Wednesday.
The Blues are currently sixth in the table and have a real fight on their hands to reach the top four, with only the Europa League left to play for in terms of silverware this term.
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