Saturday 23 March 2019

Richard Dunne: 'Kepa Arrizabalaga incident sums up Chelsea FC at the moment'

Kepa Arrizabalaga during the League Cup final
Kepa Arrizabalaga during the League Cup final
Richard Dunne

Richard Dunne

Kepa Arrizabalaga won't be sacked by Chelsea after what he did during the League Cup final last week. He has been fined and he was dropped from the team for the following game.

But he should have been dismissed because what he did was a disgrace, and in all my years as a professional footballer I never encountered something like that – a player refusing to come off. What he did was an insult to the manager, his fellow players and the entire club.

I've seen players who were frustrated at being substituted, I've seen players try and play on when the bench thought they were injured, but I had never witnessed a player defy his manager like that.

You can see sometimes in a game where the manager is worried about a player being injured, but the player plays on and in that case he is being genuine as he is trying to help the team get the result they need.

I saw that with Ireland a few times, but I never saw a player undermine his manager like that.

If you are unhappy at being taken off, you can show your frustration, but you don't disrespect the whole team, especially the player who is replacing you. You don't let your team suffer just because you, as an individual, are annoyed.

And that incident sums up Chelsea FC at the moment, which is why I was glad for the manager's sake that he got a good result from the next game, beating Tottenham midweek.

There appears to be a culture at Chelsea with players having all the power and it's not just an issue for Maurizio Sarri, I think any manager going in there will have that problem to deal with.

The players want him out, they speak badly of him, you hear John Terry on TV saying what Sarri should and shouldn't do, and no one there is supporting Sarri. They need a long-term plan to get that club on the right path but all they want at Chelsea is short-term success.

When I watched the footage, I saw David Luiz speak to Kepa and you'd wonder why Luiz, as a senior player in the team, would not just say to him 'you are off', but the mentality of the player was that he was not budging.

As much as you'd like Luiz, or the team captain, to have a word and tell him to get off, it's still up to the player, Kepa, to get off the stage.

What gives Kepa the right to think that he knows better than the manager? It was the manager's call to bring on Willy Caballero, but Kepa wanted to be the hero.

If that incident happened a few years ago, I think the club would just get rid of the player straight away, but they can't do that now. They are stuck with him due to the club's transfer ban so, bar dropping him, there's not much more they can do.

They spent €70million on him and they need to recoup that before anything else. They have a two-year transfer ban and it's hard to imagine this manager still being there in two years' time so Kepa will stay and he has got off lightly.

You have to wonder about the mindset of a player like Kepa in that situation. Does he not understand the pressure the manager was under going into that game? Everyone was having a go at Sarri, and then Kepa does something which completely undermines his boss.

I know it's been suggested that it was due to a mix-up over whether Kepa was injured or not but it's well known that Willy Caballero is better at penalties than most keepers around, so it made sense to make that change.

Kepa has paid for it as he was out of the team for the subsequent match and Caballero kept a clean sheet so hopefully that's Kepa out of the side for a while.

Chelsea's win over Spurs was glossed over, but the outcome says a lot about Tottenham, who now really are out of the title race.

Spurs were contenders and now look like they are in a battle for fourth, but it's a situation of their own making.

If you don't sign players, it catches up with you. It's two windows now since they freshened up their squad and over the course of a season that takes its toll. Young players will come through, but they won't win you a Premier League title. The mentality at Spurs is that they are happy to be third and that has to change.

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