2021-01-01 by W.M.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola hits back at Everton over coronavirus postponement statement
City’s trip to Goodison Park was postponed just hours before kick-off on Monday night after an increase in positive coronavirus tests at their City Football Academy headquarters.
Gabriel Jesus, Kyle Walker and two members of staff had already tested positive before Christmas and Guardiola confirmed on Friday that three other City players had since contracted the virus and would miss Sunday’s trip to Chelsea.
Everton expressed their “regret” at the postponement of Monday night’s game and said, while they will “always have public safety uppermost”, that they will request “full disclosure of all the information” which led to the decision.
Guardiola said City had enough players to fulfill the Goodison Park fixture but the risk of transmitting the virus to members of Everton’s squad was too great.
The Catalan went on to reveal that he called Carlo Ancelotti to explain the situation on Monday and said that his Everton counterpart was understanding of the need to postpone. Ancelotti has since sent his best wishes to all those affected by the virus at City.
“I prefer the statement from Carlo Ancelotti than the statement from the club, definitely,” Guardiola said on Friday.
“We were clear. We spoke with the Premier League, like in the first case with Arsenal and what happened with Mikel [Arteta] before the first lockdown when they announced that he had tested positive and after we cancelled the game.
“It was the same – we spoke to the Premier League and I called Carlo personally to announce the situation and said ‘OK, we’re going to leave the clubs to do what they have to do and the Premier League and that’s all’.
“We’d have loved to play Everton in the day. We are going to go to Goodison Park when [Lucas] Digne, Richarlison, Allan, James [Rodriguez] can play. We are going to beat them, with all of them.
“We would have loved to play that game but unfortunately I think the Premier League decided, wisely, for the welfare of everyone to not increase the cases and increase the situation given that in two or three days there were seven people, who we were in touch with every day, who had tested positive.”
Guardiola also took aim at “clubs making statements” about scheduling issues and the potential fixture pile-up which coronavirus postponements could create, insisting that health had to come first.
“Since the beginning we spoke about [fixture pile-ups] so no more comments. We have nine games in 27 days and after maybe eight or nine in the second one, so don’t think too much. We’ll play every game with the players we have, and compete as good as possible and do as best as we can,” he said.
“But we don’t start to think now it’s difficult for the players. We knew it since 10 or 20 years ago so now it’s not going here, making a statement about how unfair it is when we know it from the beginning, especially this season, especially with many situations.
“That is why some clubs decide for the five [substitutes] to avoid for the welfare of the players, you know… if one case like it happened in that situation, to take care for the welfare of the players and from people from the staff, seven people in this club who are together every single day.
“There are clubs making statements complaining about this when it’s just… they care about their health, when the UK is dying. A lot of people are dying every day and a lot of people are being contaminated every day, a lot of people, so what can we say?”