Former Chelsea striker Carlton Cole believes Kepa Arrizabalaga “got off lightly” with his punishment for refusing to be substituted and believes Maurizio Sarri should’ve been stricter with his handling of the player.
The Spaniard, who was fined a week’s wages and dropped for Chelsea’s 2-0 win over Tottenham after his show of defiance in the Carabao Cup final, could now return to the starting XI to play Fulham on Sunday.
And Cole is stunned that Chelsea’s £72 million ($95m) record signing is in contention to return so soon after the incident at Wembley and believes that his previous managers wouldn’t have stood for Kepa’s antics.
“I was so upset with the Kepa incident,” Cole told Goal at the London Football Awards. “He is probably a good lad and just wanted to stay on the field. I wanted to see him do his best. It is pretty simple though, if the manager tells you to come off, you come off. There’s no excuse.
“I see my number go up and always thought ‘I go’. I may have had a bad game, but I go ‘see you later’, go down the tunnel, and then I deal with it. I have a go at the manager later on. The manager tried to cover him up after. I say don’t do that.
“Tell him off in public. Call him out. Don’t be a nice guy. It is time to be mean. That’s my criticism of Sarri. Any manager I had, if I did that I would be getting a shouting down in the changing room. He got dropped, but it felt like he got off lightly as he is soon coming back.”
Cole played for Chelsea for several seasons but saw his role reduced to something of an impact sub, with Didier Drogba the main man at the club at the time.
The Blues have struggled to replace the Ivorian’s goals, especially since their decision to sell Diego Costa back in January 2018, and Cole thinks that while Alvaro Morata remains a top striker, he just wasn’t the right fit for the club.
“Morata had a big ask, I rated him, and I still think he is a great striker,” Cole added. “To be like Drogba at Chelsea, you have to have balls. He has tried his best, but it was hard for him because Diego Costa came in and replaced Drogba.
“Costa showed the same tenacity, skill and nouse. He made things happen. He was a nuisance to everyone. It was a step down to let him go for Morata.”
Cole has admitted to making mistakes with money in his career and was declared bankrupt last year, but he has been offered a job coaching at West Ham’s academy and has discussed how rewarding it is to work alongside the potential stars of the future.
“I love my new role at West Ham,” he said. “All I like to do is galvanise the youth. I was there one time, and I know what it meant, I had a few bad experiences with the older pros and thought I would never be like those people.
“So when the youth need your help, you can see it in different ways. Some say it, some do it with their body language. Then when you help someone, and they fulfil it on the pitch, it is the best feeling in the world. There’s a lot of protection for young boys now.
“We had to fend for ourselves as young boys. There’s still a lot of things going on outside football for these boys, so I am mentoring them to help them make it. In this generation of computers and social media, some of these boys are soft.
“They haven’t had people telling them they are rubbish. I am there to help people become bigger and better players than I was. I didn’t realise what I wanted to be when I finished playing. I didn’t want to be a coach. I thought they were talking rubbish a lot of the time.
“But it is hard, and I realise now all the ways they tried to make me a better person and pro. I am trying to be my own person, but, naturally, I have had Mourinho, Ranieri, Curbishley and Capello, so I have had top managers coach me, so I try to take a little bit of everything and distribute it how I feel fit.
“The end game is to become a manager like Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink or Scott Parker. Parker started in the youth teams, and now he is managing Fulham, but you never know where it will take you.
“I didn’t see Scott Parker as a manager. I thought he was going to quit and relax in the Caribbean after a great career. No, he has worked hard and got his chance.”