Kepa farce raises more accusations that player power is out of control at Chelsea

Maurizio Sarri Kepa Chelsea
The goalkeeper refused to be substituted in the League Cup final but Maurizio Sarri is not the first Blues boss to have his authority undermined

Heavy defeats, chants of 'F*** Sarriball' and now what is being described as Kepa Arrizabalaga's 'mutiny' have made Chelsea's season even more eventful than years gone by, but the same old accusations are being thrown at the squad.

Chelsea have already fined Arrizabalaga a week's wages, with the goalkeeper also issuing an apology for refusing to come off the pitch when his number was held up in the Carabao Cup final defeat to Manchester City on Sunday.

Penalty specialist Willy Caballero was left on the sidelines, with Maurizio Sarri seething at what he initially saw as an act of defiance but has since labelled a "misunderstanding" among everyone involved.

However, doubts remain over how much control Sarri still has over his playing staff, as Arrizabalaga's uncharacteristic actions come hot on the heels of reports that the Tuscan is in danger of being sacked.

Indeed, Chelsea may lose faith in Sarri's ability to qualify for the Champions League – either through a top-four finish or by winning the Europa League  – if his side lose to top-four rivals Tottenham on Wednesday night.

The 60-year-old is just the latest Blues boss to face either a proven – or an alleged – example of player power at Stamford Bridge.

Chelsea's previous manager Antonio Conte, who is in a legal battle with his former employer over a £9 million ($11.9m) compensation claim, was involved in several high-profile clashes with his players.

There was even a training ground bust-up with Diego Costa during the title-winning season, as the striker pushed to leave the club after receiving a lucrative offer from China.

Conte was also understood to have fallen out with several other members of Chelsea's Brazilian contingent because of his treatment of David Luiz, who got a dressing down for a foul-mouthed tirade upon being taken off against Roma in the Champions League.

Willian hid Conte from the full squad photo with trophy emojis after his side won the FA Cup last season and admitted that he would have left west London had the former Juventus coach stayed.

Eden Hazard was labelled as a "snake" and a "rat" by some Chelsea fans after Jose Mourinho's departure, which was also wrapped up in his treatment of club physio Dr Eva Carneiro, which allegedly upset some players.

Eden Hazard Jose Mourinho Chelsea

Those accusations were perhaps unfair, but what was described as 'player power' was said to have played a major role in the exit of one of the club's most beloved figures.

Petr Cech, John Terry, Frank Lampard and Didier Drogba were part of a superhero-like group of Blues players that won every major honour open to them but got through a whole host of managers at the same time.

When asked if player power was an issue at Chelsea, former Blues defender Alex told Goal, "During my time, yes. I can't speak about now because I'm not there. But it was there during my time.

"I saw a lot of situations [like Kepa], especially when the manager wasn't fond of the players. There were lots of people hoping that things didn't end up going well and he (the coach, in general) ended up leaving.

"I think this happens in a lot of clubs. I think it's normal in football. And Chelsea became very famous especially after what happened with Felipe Scolari, with some people saying Drogba had had a meeting with [owner Roman] Abramovich.

Alex Chelsea quote GFX

"I think it happens in all clubs; that a player really hopes that managers will be sacked. For example, I think his inexperience and youth at the time counted against Andre Villas-Boas at Chelsea.

"I loved his training sessions, he was able to interest the players. But, in my opinion, he was very arrogant in some situations and made some mistakes, especially when he put some great players on the bench. He did it with Lampard.

"The general complaint was this: he didn't speak a lot with the players and, when you put someone such as Lampard on the bench, it's not that you have to explain yourself, but I've learned with [Carlo] Ancelotti and with Guus Hiddink that it's better if you sit with the player to help him understand the situation a little bit more. 

"Villas-Boas didn't do that. He simply put who he wanted to and did what he wanted to. I think it's a little arrogant and, unfortunately, the dressing room ended up in a bad vibe because a lot of players were talking and complaining."

However, in defence of the group of Blues legends that have been accused of getting managers sacked before this current squad, Terry & Co. were ruthlessly successful, showing they had a strength of character and a right to be trusted.

Frank Lampard, John Terry, Roman Abramovich

As Alex alluded to, Villas-Boas was the one they were most vociferously accused of pushing out of the club, and there are similarities with the Portuguese's approach to that of the current Blues boss.

Abramovich has been through 15 temporary and permanent managers since buying the club in 2003, which has led to an expectation that a new coach is always likely to arrive during these players' time in west London.

The Chelsea owner has taken steps to reduce player power by no longer holding a direct line to members of his first team, but he has also generally entrusted the running of the club to director Marina Granovskaia.

Politics will always be a huge factor in success and failure at any club for any manager, but Chelsea's hiring and firing culture naturally reduces the power of the men that they choose to lead the club.

This is what is making the Chelsea job increasingly unattractive and difficult to handle.

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Sarri may well envy his opponent ahead of Wednesday's match, as Mauricio Pochettino holds huge power at Tottenham and has quashed several issues within his playing squad because he has the full support of his bosses.

Thankfully, Sarri says he is ready to consign the Kepa controversy to history but, then again, as recent history has taught us, there would have only been one winner had he chosen to take on the £71.6m ($94.7m) signing.

And it wouldn't have been the manager.