Pep Guardiola. Picture: REUTERS
Pep Guardiola. Picture: REUTERS

London — Manchester City manager Pep Guardiola believes the protocols he and his players must follow for football to return are a small sacrifice compared with those risking their lives on the frontline of the coronavirus crisis.

Guardiola’s mother died at the age of 82 in April after contracting Covid-19.

“We follow the rules, the protocol. We have to. That’s the most important thing. We don’t do anything special,” Guardiola told the City website. “The special ones are the doctors, nurses, scientists, cleaners — they put their own lives at risk to save ours.

“When it’s a special situation around the world, you have to adapt.”

Premier League players returned to training last week while sticking to social-distancing guidelines. The UK government has now given the green light for contact training to resume, with clubs set to vote on the protocols on Wednesday.

Should the Premier League, FA Cup and Champions League all be completed, City could face 17 games in little over two months once the action gets under way.

But Guardiola is pleased with the fitness of his players given that they have not played competitively since March 8.

“I think they were looking forward to coming back and training again and doing what they like,” he said. “They came back perfectly.”

Even when football does return in England, matches are set to be behind closed doors for the immediate future. Fear has been expressed at the possibility of fans massing around stadiums, but there has been little evidence of such problems in Germany since the return of the Bundesliga.

Guardiola encouraged fans to keep sticking to health and safety guidelines. “We want to come back but now the priority is other things. It’s still stay safe, be careful and when everything is possible we will come back,” he said.

“The most important thing is to follow the instructions. If they say use a mask, stay at home, social-distance, we have to do it because there are many, many people in the NHS [National Health Service] around the world who put their own lives at risk to save ours.

“It’s incredible what they have done, and we have to follow them. Now, we cannot do anything wrong.” 


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