Wigan Athletic boss offers unique insight onto Sarri/Kepa/Chelsea circus
Wigan Athletic boss Paul Cook admitted he had a foot in both camps last weekend while the extraordinary scenes at the Carabao Cup final were unfolding.
In the dying seconds of extra-time at Wembley, and the game heading to a penalty shoot-out, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri wanted to switch his goalkeepers, and send on Willy Caballero for Kepa Arrizabalaga, who had been treated for cramp.
Amazingly, Kepa refused to come off, and play was allowed to continue and reach a conclusion with the substitution still having not taken place.
Chelsea went on to lose the shoot-out on penalties, and Kepa received widespread condemnation for his conduct in defying his manager.
And Cook says he can sympathise with Sarri, given Caballero’s reputation as a penalty saver extraordinaire.
“When I was in Ireland, we managed to win a couple of cup finals on penalties,” revealed Cook, who managed Sligo Rovers between 2007-2012.
“One of our goalkeepers was very much a strong penalty-saver, Ciaran Kelly, and he basically won us the first one – saving four out of four in the shoot-out against Shamrock Rovers.
“In the next final, I substituted the goalkeeper in the last minute of extra-time to get Ciaran on the field – and he won us the game again, saving two against Shelbourne!
“I’m not sure exactly what went on at Chelsea, but I see Kepa was fined and didn’t play in the next game so that probably speaks volumes.”
Cook, though, acknowledged the situation involving Chelsea was not black and white, given Kepa had received treatment prior to the incident.
“I know there was an injury involved with Kepa, so that obviously puts a slightly different slant on things,” he added.
“It looked like the substitution was being made for injury reasons, and Kepa’s taken the initiative.
“But certainly if Sarri held the board up, I certainly wouldn’t stand there and refuse to come off. It’s not good.”