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Pep Guardiola

Pep Guardiola fears Manchester City’s recent progress could be undone when his players join up with their national teams next month, increasing their risk of contracting Covid-19. With only two positive cases returned in the latest round of testing in the Premier League this week, Guardiola praised the work done by clubs and the league to prevent a number of postponements turning into a situation where all fixtures may have to be suspended.

Pep Guardiola said: “Everyone thought it would be cancelled. In England in December, January for the Christmas time, the cases rise amazingly. I think the Premier League and all the clubs, all the team managers, the protocols were so effective. Just two cases in the Premier League positive in the last week after 3000 tests. It’s doing well, we can do it but the most important thing is the UK is fixing a lot of people, lot of people already vaccinated, doing well, for the NHS, health services and old people. Hopefully we can move forward and the schools can reopen and then restaurants and then more or less back to normal. When we cancelled the game we had nine or ten positive [among the playing staff] and other clubs like Newcastle and many teams, we thought we didn’t know what would happen, maybe we would cancel, but the Premier League make an exceptional job, react quick, make it more strict for everyone. That’s why we controlled it.”

However, with the March international break approaching, Guardiola said it will be far more difficult to control the virus.

Pep Guardiola continued: “Hopefully not but the only way to be protect about this virus is to stay at home and don’t move and social distance and no contact or travel,” he continued. Now the people are going to travel to their national teams, it’s difficult to control it. I think it will rise, unfortunately. I would like to guess it won’t happen but from experience, it happens two or three waves worldwide. If you move you take a risk to be contaminated to get the virus again. I think the Premier League and all the leagues should be concerned. I know the national federations need to play for the qualification for the friendly games for preparation for the European Cup in the summertime. But the reason there was a lot of cases and now not a lot of cases is because the people don’t move between home and training centres. The restaurants are closed, just to buy essential food, the rest we are in the bubble, we are tested every two days. The moment you take planes and move places anything can happen. What we have to do is follow the protocols. The governments and scientists and doctors know what is the best and we follow them. I’m not a doctor, unfortunately. I cannot say anything. I would say we should be from my humble opinion, we should be careful until the summer and finish the season.”

When asked if he was concerned that players could return with the virus and potentially derail City’s title hopes, Guardiola admitted that was a concern but he would not ask players to reject call-ups.

Pep Guardiola said: “It’s true, I’m concerned for the fact we don’t get contaminated again with the virus, this is the only concern. All the clubs are suffering. The amount of players moving to their own countries to play international games, I think everyone is a bit concerned. It’s not because we’re top and the others have not done so well, it’s just to protect the people when they’re travelling. The experience people shows the only way to be safe is to don’t move, be tested a lot and stay at home. Now in the UK, every night I open BBC and see the cases and how many people daily are vaccinated and I’m really impressed it’s getting better. But when we relax a little bit, it’s coming back again. So I think until the summer time we have to be careful. The players are going to the international teams they know it already, we will tell them be careful. After they go with the national teams and they will protect them as well. The teams have the protocols. But you need nothing to be contaminated. I hope everyone if we move or travel we do what we have to do.”

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