Former Chelsea boss Jose Mourinho is convinced the Maurizio Sarri-Kepa Arrizabalaga saga was down to a genuine misunderstanding.
Eyebrows were raised after last Sunday’s Carabao Cup final defeat by Manchester City when both men insisted wires had been crossed after the £71million goalkeeper appeared to refuse to be substituted after going down injured for the second time as a penalty shoot-out loomed.
However, speaking in his role as an analyst on beIN SPORTS, Mourinho said: “When you are on the outside, what comes into your eyes is that the player refused to come out.
“The manager wants to make a change because (Willy) Caballero is very good on penalties and the goalkeeper refused to do it. That’s the first thing that came into my mind.
“But then, according to what they were informing and the position of Maurizio and also Kepa, it looks like it was a misunderstanding and a lot of people were part of it – the doctor on the pitch, the goalkeeper coach that was not involved, the emotion of the moment, Maurizio desperate with the reaction…
“There were a lot of factors that made us think, ‘Wow! This is big’. In the end, it looks like it was not big because it looks like a misunderstanding.
“I have a few friends at the club and everybody speaks to me amazingly well about Kepa. They say he is a great kid, they say he is not capable of this kind of confrontational attitude and when the inside information is as positive as that, I believe in this kind of information.”
Manager Sarri reacted furiously on the sidelines as Kepa waved away his attempts to replace him with Caballero, with some commentators speculating that the Italian could lose his job.
However, Wednesday night’s 2-0 win over Tottenham eased some of the pressure on him, and Mourinho was pleased at that.
He said: “After what happened in that final with Maurizio Sarri and Kepa, immediately everybody was convinced that the manager was going to be sacked.
“I’m so happy that they beat Tottenham because the best way to put water on the fire is to win matches. They won and they got some stability.”