Mourinho never expected Premier League COVID call-offs: 'I thought we'd always play!'

By Sports Desk January 08, 2021

Jose Mourinho revealed Tottenham have managed to carefully "hide" their COVID-19 problems as he insisted Premier League chiefs must not let the season descend into chaos.

The Spurs manager is relishing the distraction of an FA Cup tie at Marine on Sunday, describing the competition as "absolutely beautiful" and promising to take a star-studded squad to face the minnows.

But Tottenham would be left in an "impossible situation", according to Mourinho, if next Wednesday's Premier League clash with Aston Villa is called off.

Villa have experienced a major outbreak of coronavirus cases and their first-team training facilities were closed ahead of Friday's cup clash with Liverpool.

Tottenham have already had a London derby with Fulham called off under similar circumstances, and fixtures are piling up.

Mourinho wants a solution to be found and appealed for "leadership" from league top brass, suggesting there should be ways found to allow games to go ahead.

"The only thing I can say is that since pre-season, we knew that eventually it would happen to us, to have difficult situations to manage and to play again with 14 players," Mourinho said.

"I think every club was mentally ready for it."

Mourinho pointed to his former club Chelsea fielding Petr Cech at under-23 level recently, with the veteran goalkeeper coming out of retirement in case he is needed in a crisis.

"Every club was mentally ready for an extreme situation of having a lot of players not available to play," said Mourinho.

"In our case, we didn't have that extreme situation yet but we had problems. We had problems that of course with the legal right that we had, we managed to hide it, to hide it in a way by not telling who was positive and who was not able to play.

"But we are also having our problems. But we always thought we would always play. I cannot say much more than that."

Tottenham, like all clubs, have not been obliged to identify players who have tested positive for COVID-19, which has allowed Mourinho to avoid cases being publicised.

Those affected must go into self-isolation, but it appears Tottenham are in a good way ahead of their trip to Marine.

Mourinho remembered facing lower-league sides during his coaching career, pointing out the day his Chelsea side lost 4-2 to Bradford City in the FA Cup fourth round, back in the 2014-15 season.

"The FA Cup is absolutely beautiful," he said. "That's why, even knowing that I would love to rest all my guys. I cannot do it. It's not about being afraid, it's about giving the guys what they deserve.

"I'm not taking everybody. But out of 20, I take 19 first-team players. so you can imagine how strong we go."

Mourinho promised he would even enter the Marine club raffle, which offers a top prize of managing the eighth-tier team in a pre-season friendly. With no gate receipts, Marine are understandably looking for other ways of monetising the glamour tie.

"I will buy a ticket. Even if I win, I cannot do it," Mourinho said. "I don’t think I will have conditions to do that, but the meaning of it yes, I will be buying it."

The Northern Premier League North West part-timers and Spurs will go down in the record books as having the biggest gap between each other in the pyramid in the history of the FA Cup when they meet at Marine Travel Arena.

Marine sit sixth in their section of the eighth tier of English football, while Tottenham are fourth in the Premier League, reached the final of the EFL Cup this week and remain in the hunt for Europa League glory.

Mourinho will demand victory, of course, and will be quietly testing his players' appetite for the romance of the game.

"This is just a match that can show me how much they love football," he added. "Nothing else."

Related items

  • Klopp will not forget 'fantastic season' regardless of title race outcome Klopp will not forget 'fantastic season' regardless of title race outcome

    Jurgen Klopp insists Liverpool must not be disappointed in the 2021-22 season if they fail to win the Premier League.

    The Reds head into the final day of the season just a point behind leaders City, who face Aston Villa, managed by Liverpool great Steven Gerrard, in their last game.

    Liverpool take on Wolves at Anfield, in a repeat of the final fixture of the 2018-19 season, when the title race also went down to the wire. On that occasion, a victory for the Reds was not enough, as they lost out by a single point to City, who won at Brighton and Hove Albion.

    Even though history could repeat itself, Klopp – who like in 2019, has a Champions League final to look forward to – believes it has been an incredible campaign.

    Liverpool's title defence floundered in 2020-21 but they have returned to the top in style this season, winning both the EFL Cup and FA Cup.

    Speaking in a news conference on Friday, Klopp said: "After that game [Wolves in 2019] I was fine with the situation.

    "I remember walking on the lap of honour next to Trent [Alexander-Arnold]. We both had a smile on our faces because it was a great season.

    "Whatever happens on Sunday, I will not forget that it has been an absolutely fantastic season."

    Klopp also believes that if City do pip Liverpool to the post once again, it will only spur his side onto more success in the future.

    "The biggest defeats in my life have led to the biggest successes in my life, wherever I was," he added. "Whether it was Mainz or whatever, it's a little bit like this.

    "Even if we don't win the Champions League final, I learned at Mainz when we didn't get promoted and we arrived back and thought it'd be really sad but we had 20,000 people waiting for us.

    "We had to go on stage the day after we lost our dream of going to the Bundesliga. That was the moment we realised it was OK and if they think it was fine then we can go from here.

    "The response [of fans] is really important and whatever happens on Sunday we will not stop. We will not stop trying.

    "Yes, we have the best opponent in world football, which is a bit of a shame, but they have us in their neck, which is not too cool as well. So let's see."

  • Barcelona not in a position to sign Lewandowski, insists LaLiga president Tebas Barcelona not in a position to sign Lewandowski, insists LaLiga president Tebas

    Barcelona are not in a position to finance a deal for Bayern Munich star Robert Lewandowski, according to LaLiga president Javier Tebas.

    Lewandowski last week confirmed that he has informed Bayern he will not be extending his contract beyond the end of next season.

    The Poland international hinted he is interested in a move away from the Allianz Arena in the upcoming transfer window, rather than departing as a free agent in a year's time.

    Barca are the favourites to land Europe's most prolific striker, with head coach Xavi insisting age would not be a barrier when it comes to his rebuild project.

    However, uncertainty lingers over whether Barca have the financial clout to make a move as they attempt to come through an economic crisis that has hit Camp Nou hard.

    And unless certain players, such as midfielder Frenkie de Jong, are sold to bring in additional funds, Tebas does not see the Lewandowski transfer being a possibility.

    "The numbers are easy: if you have more than €500million losses from the past two years, you have to recover money," Tebas is quoted as saying by Spanish publication Sport.

    "Lewandowski has one year left at Bayern. Between what he wants to earn and what Bayern want to take... as of today I don't see him at Barcelona. Other things must happen.

    "Selling players could be enough, depending on how much they raise and what Lewandowski costs. It could be €100m plus that is saved.

    "De Jong could give them that possibility, but I don't know if they are even planning to sell. To date they have not sold him."

     

    Lewandowski has scored 50 goals in 46 games for Bayern in all competitions this season, making him the top scorer among players from Europe's top five leagues.

    Next on that list is Real Madrid striker Karim Benzema with 44, followed by Paris Saint-Germain's Kylian Mbappe with 36 in 45 matches.

    Mbappe had been widely expected to join Benzema at Madrid next season, but reports on Friday suggested the forward might decide to stay at PSG.

    However, Tebas expects the France international to end up at the Santiago Bernabeu in the coming weeks.

    "I think he'll be at Real Madrid, though one day he is white and another day he is black – he changes," Tebas said. "But yes, I think [he'll sign for Madrid].

    ”I have seen these twists and turns so many times – it's not unexpected, because there are always twists. 

    "The feeling I have is that if he had wanted to renew he would have already done so, but I could be wrong."

  • Atletico president Cerezo: Griezmann is one of the top four players in Europe – he's going nowhere Atletico president Cerezo: Griezmann is one of the top four players in Europe – he's going nowhere

    Atletico Madrid president Enrique Cerezo says Antoine Griezmann is among the top three or four players in Europe and will remain with the Spanish club beyond this season.

    Griezmann sealed a return to Atletico from Barcelona last August on an initial loan with an option to buy after spending just two years at Camp Nou.

    He has struggled to recapture his best form with Atleti, however, having scored just eight goals in 35 appearances in all competitions.

    Indeed, the France international is on a 14-game run without finding the net in LaLiga, which is one short of his longest goal drought in the competition.

    Griezmann's 13 direct goal involvements in 2021-22 is the fourth most among Atletico players, meanwhile, behind Luis Suarez, Joao Felix (both 15) and Angel Correa (18).

    But contrary to suggestions in the Spanish press that Atleti are reluctant to purchase the 31-year-old outright, Cerezo has made clear a deal is being worked on.

    "Griezmann is our player. He has a contract with Atletico Madrid and will stay here at Atletico Madrid," he said at an event on Friday, as reported by AS.

    "In my opinion, Antoine is among three or four best players in Europe."

     

    Atletico last week announced that Suarez will depart Wanda Metropolitano at the end of the campaign.

    They still have Alvaro Morata on their books, though, with the Spain international's two-year loan at Juventus coming to an end after Saturday's Serie A clash with Fiorentina.

    Unlike with Griezmann, Cerezo was less assertive when it came to discussing Morata's future in the Spanish capital.

    "The truth is that I don't know what will happen to him," he said. "He's our player, but I don't know what will happen. I don't know if Juve will keep him or not. We don't know."

    Atleti have conceded 42 goals in 37 LaLiga games this term, which is their worst record in a single campaign since 2011-12 when Diego Simeone took over midway through.

    Jan Oblak in particular has endured a difficult campaign, though Cerezo rejected suggestions that the goalkeeper could move on in the upcoming transfer window.

    "There are always rumours about everything," he said. "Jan is a goalkeeper for Atletico de Madrid, and he has a contract. He may yet renew for another 10 years."

© 2022 SportsMaxTV All Rights Reserved.