Disclaimer. I’ve never watched Game of Thrones, nor do I intend to. But it’s very popular and this is very relevant:
Power is a curious thing.
“Three great men sit in a room, a king, a priest, and a rich man. Between them stands a common sellsword. Each great man bids the sellsword kill the other two. Who lives, who dies?” — Lord Varys said.
“Depends on the sell-sword.” — Tyrion Lannister replied.
Varys: “Does it? He has neither crown nor gold nor favors with the gods.”
Tyron: “He has a sword, the power of life and death.”
Varys: “But if it’s swordsmen who rule, why do we pretend kings hold all the power?
Power lies in the eye of the beholder.
People are not powerful; we see them as such. And we lose our power when we get tricked into thinking someone else is stronger than we are. As the Game of Thrones’ riddle above reveals: power is an illusion — now you have it, now you don’t.
Back to the football.
So. What I’m trying to say is that Sarri’s thin veil of authority vanished when he lost his head on Sunday.
Kepa’s refusal to leave the pitch reminded me of the moment the ‘too smart for his own good’ kid realises the teachers at school have no real power.
‘WHAT ARE YOU GOING TO DO? YOU CAN’T HIT ME SIR.’
This is the thin line that all managers walk everyday. Especially those that drink from the poison chalice that is Chelsea. A space where the manager’s power is little more than an illusion.
The criticism of Azpilicueta’s role in this drama is also a fascinating insight into this mythical power structure.
The Chelsea captain may have considered encouraging the young keeper/Kepa to leave the pitch. But once he saw Sarri losing it on the sideline, he’d have quickly realised that his own power as captain would’ve been compromised.
Of course this is all speculation, and in reality he probably just thought f***k this madness, these guys don’t know what they’re doing.
Chelsea put an unconvincing PR spin on the situation, putting it down to a misunderstanding.
Sarri then seemingly pivoted on this stance by dropping Kepa against Tottenham ‘to send a message’.
The truth is we’ll never know what truly happened…until someone releases a book or snitches to the tabloids.
But what this spectacle definitely demonstrated, is that power is a fragile thing.