Keep calm and carry on. That’s the message coming out of Spurs. One positive Covid-19 test by an opposition player does not jeopardise preparations for Friday’s home fixture against Manchester United, according to the club.
While this position is supported by “the science” it does not stop it lighting up the internet nor raising the heart rate of fans inevitably yoked to alarmist lockdown fears. The truth is the Premier League is arguably the safest environment in England.
Though individuals remain vulnerable to random infection, as in the case of the Norwich player who tested positive 24 hours after participating in the match against Spurs on Friday, football’s test, track and trace protocols have proved mightily effective at stamping out the spread of the virus at source.
Spurs offer their own proof of the efficacy of arrangements with the containment of the virus after one positive test a fortnight ago. Subsequent tests have all been negative. “We continue to operate within the strict guidelines outlined by the Premier League to ensure we avoid any risk of infection spreading should anyone else test positive, including practising social distancing so no ‘close contacts’ are created, which has been defined by government as being within two metres of a confirmed case for 15 minutes or more,” a Spurs spokesman said.
“This means that no other member of the squad or staff should be forced to self-isolate other than the person who returns a positive test result and their household members.
“The Norwich player in question has confirmed he had no ‘close contact’ with our team yesterday and our squad has also verified this. Our testing has continued to return only negative results for Covid since one positive reading was confirmed almost two weeks ago.”
The episode has greater significance in the message it sends to the wider community as we ease out of lockdown. If an individual as protected as a Premier League footballer can contract the virus, the threat to the wider public is obvious.
Football clubs have the means and systems to detect and isolate quickly with daily temperature checks and twice weekly swab tests. The rest of us have to wait until the symptoms have nailed us.
Spurs have bigger concerns
Of greater concern to Spurs manager Jose Mourinho is reversing the trend that saw them return two draws and four defeats in the six games before lockdown, including a 4-0 aggregate defeat to RB Leipzig to exit the Champions League.
At least Mourinho can call upon Harry Kane and Son Heung-min following injury and military service respectively, though that did not help them in the defeat to Norwich. Mind you they won’t concede too many goals like the winner curled left-footed by Mario Vrancic direct from a free-kick.
The pre-Covid form re-positioned Mourinho as the Hopeless One, a dusty relic left behind by a development curve fashioned by Pep Guardiola and Jurgen Klopp. You know it’s bad when Tony Pulis is an advocate.
Pulis, himself a coach distanced by modern interpretations of the game, argues time and backing in hard cash from the board are the remedy that will propel Mourinho back into the vanguard.
“The big problem in society today and in sport is everyone thinks this can happen overnight,” Pulis opined on Power Sportz TV. “He has proved he is one of the great managers over the past couple of decades.”
Do people really believe this uncritical churn from the coaching brotherhood? Mourinho’s opposite number, his replacement at United, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, enjoyed an inverse pre-Covid run with eight wins, including two against Manchester City and another at Chelsea, plus three draws following the defeat at home to Burnley in January.
United posted a win and a loss in two friendlies against West Brom last week making any attempt to assess form a lottery.
What we do know is neither Spurs in eighth nor fifth-placed United can afford to ease into the nine-match-finale. Both need to test positive for three points.
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