Ole Gunnar Solskjaer can't see benefit of two-week circuit break for Covid rise

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer: "I can't see the benefit in having a circuit break. Because when are we going to play the games?"; The Premier League has confirmed 18 positive coronavirus tests among players and staff in its latest round of testing - the highest figure of the season so far.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer
Image: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer does not see the benefit in having a two-week "circuit break" in the Premier League

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says he can't see the benefit in a two-week break in the season amid fears over a rise in Covid cases.

The Premier League has confirmed 18 positive coronavirus tests among players and staff in its latest round of testing - the highest figure of the season so far.

Hours after the Premier League released the latest figures, it emerged that Fulham's game at Tottenham on Wednesday evening is in doubt after a number of coronavirus cases were recorded by the west London side.

Manchester City's trip to Everton on Monday was postponed hours before kick-off due to multiple positive cases within the City camp, while Aston Villa vs Newcastle was called off earlier this month after the Magpies were hit by the virus.

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Health Secretary Matt Hancock says it is a matter for football authorities along with Culture Secretary Oliver Dowden to decide on what measures should be taken amid a rise in coronavirus cases.

But Solskjaer is concerned what a circuit break would do to an already-rammed schedule.

"It's not something I've thought about a lot. I think our players have been really good in following protocols and rules," Solskjaer said.

"That's part of the job here, that we as clubs follow the protocols given. I can't see the benefit in having a circuit break, whatever it's going to be called.

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Premier LEague 3:23
Sky Sports News Chief Reporter Bryan Swanson says the Premier League insists their 'medical protocols are robust' after the latest round of coronavirus testing shows 18 positive cases - the highest of the season so far.

"Because when are we going to play the games? We all know this year is so difficult, but I don't think stopping the games is going to make a big, big change."

Following United's last-gasp 1-0 win over Wolves, Solskjaer's opposite number Nuno Espirito Santo said everyone was "worried" about the situation, and that managers are aware they need to react when necessary.

"I am just hearing this, I can't say too much but the rising of cases is huge all over the country. We are privileged because we live in a bubble and sometimes it's impossible to control all the situations," Nuno said.

"All managers understand that situation is unprecedented so we are reacting to situations like this every day. Every time there is a test you are worried, when you hear cases are rising you are worried. Everyone is worried."

Premier League coronavirus 0:47
Premier League managers Roy Hodgson, Brendan Rodgers and Dean Smith assess the impact coronavirus is having on England's top-flight after Manchester City's game at Everton was postponed due to an outbreak of coronavirus at the club.

A total of 1,479 players and club staff members were tested between December 21-27; the 18 people who have tested positive are self-isolating.

What have other managers said?

West Brom boss Sam Allardyce said after his side's 5-0 thrashing by Leeds that a circuit breaker-type pause was the best option for the Premier League.

West Bromwich Albion's English Head Coach Sam Allardyce (L) and West Bromwich Albion's assistant head coach Sammy Lee (R) watch from the touchline during the English Premier League football match between Liverpool and West Bromwich Albion at Anfield in Liverpool, north west England on December 27, 2020. (Photo by Nick Potts / POOL / AFP) 1:18
West Brom boss Sam Allardyce believes taking a break from Premier League action could be the right way to go if coronavirus cases continue to rise.

"Everyone's safety is more important than anything else," he said. "When I listen to the news the variant virus transmits quicker than the original virus [so] we can only do the right thing which is have a circuit break.

"I am 66 years old and the last thing I want to do is catch Covid. I'm very concerned for myself and football in general. If that's what needs to be done we need to do it. We had one positive this week and it seems to be creeping around no matter how hard we try."

Keeping coronavirus out of the top flight, even with stringent restrictions in place, will prove impossible while the virus circulates in the general population, Burnley manager Sean Dyche added, saying if the situation got worse it would need to be "dealt with accordingly" without explicitly backing a break.

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Sean Dyche insists Burnley are abiding by strict coronavirus protocols but says it is hard to control what goes on away from the club, amid concerns over a spike in cases.

"We've got protocols in place and everyone has tried to align with the protocols. But that doesn't stop everything - you've still got to put your hand on a keypad or whatever when you get petrol," he said.

"Players have still got to live their lives, they've still got to operate in a way that is within the rules and the guidelines; the ones we have within the camp are very strict but the players have lives.

"They have families and we are told that it (the virus) is everywhere so we can only stay within the guidelines, I just hope it stays outside of football as best it can. If the numbers keep rising we'll have to deal with that accordingly."

Sheffield United confirmed they had recorded a number of positive coronavirus tests after their latest round of testing. Due to medical confidentiality, the club will not be revealing the names of those who have been affected.

Brighton manager Graham Potter said after his side's 1-0 defeat by Arsenal that football must do the right thing, and he will be happy to go along with advice.

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Graham Potter says Brighton will do 'whatever people think is right', including a potential break in Premier League action, if coronavirus cases continue to rise.

"Whatever the people think is the right thing to do, for the health of our community, that's the most important thing. Whatever is deemed right, that's what we'll do.

"We're having to make the best of it with everything going on outside of football, which is of course more important. We've got a virus that is escalating and it affects our daily lives as human beings, so it will surely affect us as footballers. So it's something we have to deal with, do our best with.

"We have to make sure we do the right thing, because football is important, but not as important as people's lives and health."

Blades boss Chris Wilder revealed ahead of their kick-off at Burnley on Tuesday that the club had seen "a couple" of players and "four or five backroom staff" test positive. Wilder's starting line-up was unaffected, with just one change from the previous match, Oliver Burke dropping to the bench, but he was only able to name seven of a possible nine substitutes.

Wilder said neither he nor the club were looking to have the game delayed. "It's not an ideal situation but I don't think we're a club of one. It (the virus) is picking up and it's running high at football clubs," he said.

"We just notified the relevant authorities that we've had a situation at the football club. But I want to play football. That's how it is, we're not looking to get anything canned. We did the right thing as far as our responsibility to the Premier League and notified them regarding the players that are ill."

Premier League postponements - what league guidance says

The Premier League board took medical advice into consideration when making the decision to postpone City's game against Everton. Decisions to rearrange games are only in "exceptional" circumstances and judged on "case-by-case basis", says the Premier League, which maintains its medical protocols are robust.

Guidance issued to clubs in the Premier League Handbook 2020/21 is that "permission will not be granted to postpone a League match where the applicant club has 14 or more players listed on its squad list available".

The final decision is always made by the Premier League Board.

Previous Premier League test results this season

  • Round 1: 31 Aug-6 Sep - 1,605 tested, with three testing positive.
  • Round 2: 7-13 Sep - 2,131 tested, with four testing positive.
  • Round 3: 14-20 Sep - 1,574 tested, with three testing positive.
  • Round 4: 21-27 Sep - 1,595 tested, with 10 testing positive.
  • Round 5: 28 Sep-4 Oct - 1,587 tested, with nine testing positive.
  • Round 6: 5-11 Oct - 1,128 tested, with five testing positive.
  • Round 7: 12-18 Oct - 1,575 tested, with eight testing positive.
  • Round 8: 19-25 Oct - 1,609 tested, with two testing positive.
  • Round 9: 26 Oct-1 Nov - 1,446 tested, with four testing positive.
  • Round 10: 2-8 Nov - 1,646 tested, with four testing positive.
  • Round 11: 9-15 Nov - 1,207 tested, with 16 testing positive.
  • Round 12: 16-22 Nov - 1,530 tested, with eight testing positive.
  • Round 13: 23-29 Nov - 1,381 tested, with 10 testing positive.
  • Round 14: 30 Nov-6 Dec - 1,483 tested with 14 testing positive.
  • Round 15: 7-13 Dec - 1,549 tested with six testing positive.
  • Round 16: 14-20 Dec - 1,569 tested with seven testing positive.
  • Round 17: 21-27 Dec - 1,479 tested with 18 testing positive.
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