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Men’s football Why are some games cancelled and others are played, asks Man City boss

PEP GUARDIOLA admits he is confused by some of the coronavirus regulations in the game.

The Manchester City manager says he does not know why some games have been postponed due to a high number of positive tests within squads while others have not.

Four Premier League matches have so far been postponed, including City’s trip to Everton last month, but a different approach appears to have been taken in the FA Cup over the weekend.

Both Aston Villa and Derby fielded sides made up of youth players for their third-round ties after their entire first-team squads were told to isolate.

In the meantime City’s own problems with Covid-19 have continued as Sergio Aguero was forced to miss Sunday’s 3-0 victory over Birmingham in the FA Cup third round.

The Argentinian has been told to self-isolate after it was found he was a close contact of someone who has tested positive for the virus. City have already been without eight other players following positive tests at various stages since Christmas Day.

Guardiola did not express a particular opinion on these matters when asked but said he did not understand all the rules.

The Catalan said: “There are teams with four or five cases and [they] played 10 players from the under-23s in the FA Cup. We are four or five, the same situation, and we are here.

“One guy is isolated and the group has to continue. So, I don’t know. We follow what the people say at the club, the Premier League. We follow the rules. That is what it is.

“Sergio was in contact with one person and must be isolated — that is good — but we were in touch with Sergio as well, and we played.

“Aston Villa had 10 players isolated plus the manager. So, I don’t know.”

Wolves boss Nuno Espirito Santo said he thinks that more cancelled games or a total halt in fixtures would signal the end of the Premier League as we know it. The Molineux chief is concerned for the game’s long-term future amid the coronavirus pandemic, with cases rising at an alarming rate.

Aston Villa’s game with Tottenham has been postponed after an outbreak at the Midlands club, meaning Spurs now host Fulham on Wednesday at short notice.

Liverpool and Manchester United were revealed to be in talks on a Fifa-backed European Premier League in October while Project Big Picture, a revamp of the English top flight that suggested reducing teams to 18 and scrapping the EFL Cup, has also been discussed.

Wolves host Everton tonight as the Premier League perseveres, but Nuno remains worried.

He said: “If we stop, everything will change. A new football will come, probably with a super league, probably with other competitions. It’ll be a matter of which clubs will survive. It’s a tough decision to make.

“I don’t know what is better. What I’m afraid of is: if the decision is to stop, football we know now will not be the same. This is my biggest fear. The schedule will go crazy and it’ll be impossible to finish the league and think about the Euros.

“We cannot move forward and go back to a normal situation. The virus and pandemic is affecting things a lot, the increase of cases is growing in a scary way. This is what my main concern is.

“Things have changed, almost a year ago we were stopping because we didn’t know what was happening. It was something we hadn’t experienced. There were a lot of doubts.

“After the restart, everyone made a big effort. There were protocols, meetings, things exchanged, we were sure, no matter what we were playing, because we only needed 14 players. Now things have changed and we are starting to think about stopping again.

“If you have a crisis, the strong will survive: what about the rest? My personal view, when I have an awareness of what’s going around, you will not find the same model we have now.”


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