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25th Feb 2019

Jose Mourinho praises Kepa Arrizabalaga’s “confidence” after substitution controversy

Wayne Farry

Mourinho is no stranger to contentious incidents

Jose Mourinho has praised Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa Arrizabalaga for showing his “personality” during the controversial Carabao Cup final which saw the Spaniard refuse to follow his manager’s instructions and be substituted off the pitch.

The incident occurred at the end of extra-time in the league cup final between Chelsea and Manchester City, a game which finished 0-0 before going to a penalty shootout.

With just moments left in extra-time, Chelsea manager Maurizio Sarri reacted to Kepa’s apparent and persistent problem with cramp by instructing substitute goalkeeper Willy Caballero to get ready.

Suited and booted, Caballero stood on the sideline beside his manager waiting to come on, before Kepa looked toward them and sensationally disobeyed his manager.

Kepa’s behaviour has been widely criticised, with pundit Chris Sutton going so far as to say that the former Athletic Bilbao goalkeeper should never play for Chelsea again, but he does have one defender, in the form of Jose Mourinho.

The former Manchester United manager, who was sacked by the club in December, told DAZN that he impressed with some aspects of what Kepa had done.

“The goalkeeper wants to show his personality, his confidence, wants to show that he is there and wants to be at the shootout and make saves — and I like that,” Mourinho said while covering the match.

Despite his praise, the Portuguese coach didn’t spare Kepa of criticism, admitting that the goalkeeper left his manager in the lurch with his behaviour.

“I don’t like that he leaves his coach and the assistant coach in a situation of great fragility.”

Sarri was quick to downplay the incident in the aftermath, saying that it was a misunderstanding. This version of events has been backed up by Kepa himself.

Optics are crucial in football however, and it remains to be seen whether the relationship between the under pressure manager and his player will be damaged by what occurred.