Jose Mourinho does not believe Chelsea goalkeeper Kepa disrespected his manager Maurizio Sarri in this season’s League Cup final defeat to Manchester City.
Kepa, who became the world’s most expensive ‘keeper last summer following his move from Athletic Bilbao, was deemed to have refused to come off in extra time but Mourinho feels it was one big misunderstanding after learning about his character from sources within the club.
The showdown: Five things to know…
- Kepa would keep City at bay in 90 minutes before sustaining a knock in extra time.
- Chelsea boss Maurizio Sarri wanted to bring reserve goalkeeper Willy Caballero on for the forthcoming penalty shoot-out.
- Kepa continually signalled to the bench he was okay to continue leading to Sarri losing his cool.
- The Blues lost 4-3 on penalties although Kepa saved from Leroy Sane.
- He would lose his spot in Chelsea’s league win over Spurs before returning against Fulham.
The much-travelled Portuguese coach enjoyed two successful periods as Chelsea boss, notably winning three Premier League titles, and retains close ties with many of his former colleagues who set the record straight to him regarding their number one.
Now being employed as a pundit, whilst taking a break from management following his recent gig at Manchester United, the self-proclaimed “special one” revealed those sentiments about Kepa.
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“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 Caballero is very good on penalties,” he told beIN Sports.
“And the goalkeeper refused to do it. And that’s the first thing that comes into my mind. But then according to what they were informing in the position of Maurizio and also Kepa, it looks like it was a misunderstanding and a lot of people were part of it.
“There were a lot of factors that made us think ‘wow, this is big’. In the end it looks like it was not as big because it looks more a misunderstanding. I have a few friends at the club and everybody speaks to me amazingly well about Kepa.
“They say that he is a great kid, they say that 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.”
Mourinho feels Man Utd trophies prove he built ‘good relationships’
Given his newfound status in front of the television camera, his two-year period as Manchester United boss is a keen topic of conversation. Mourinho’s final season at the record 20-time English champions was riddled with a string of controversies notably falling out with some of his players.
Mourinho, though, counters that narrative. Not only does he not look back on his time at Old Trafford with any regret but adds if he didn’t enjoy a good relationship with those playing for him they wouldn’t have enjoyed silverware together.
“If you tell me that in the past season that I had some problems … I don’t want to speak about [that] for obvious reasons,” he also told beIN Sports.
“I will not deny to you that some factors had an influence in that the last period was not a good one. It’s impossible to win trophies without a good relationship with players.
“What you need sometimes is to accelerate some process, what you need to be is to be a club man and sometimes to be a club man you need to forget yourself a little bit.
“I think I always did it, sometimes for the good of the immediate needs of the club and group. I put myself in situations that in the eyes of people from the outside are not the best position, but I don’t regret that at all because I always give my all for the club.”