Sheffield United manager Chris Wilder says the Premier League must complete the 2019-20 campaign, no matter what delays could be enforced upon subsequent seasons, in order to help preserve the sport’s integrity.
The Blades have enjoyed a remarkable first season back in the top flight under the 52-year-old and sit firmly in the hunt for Champions League football in the upper echelons of the table.
They have not played since a 1-0 win over relegation strugglers Norwich City on March 7, however, as football across the globe stands suspended in the midst of the Covid-19 pandemic, with no definitive end to the hiatus in sight.
Though clubs have provisionally marked out late April as a potential return date, it is thought that that they may be forced to wait even longer as the world struggles to grapple with the ramifications.Now, Wilder has weighed in on the protracted lay-off from action, hailing the attitude of his squad while stressing that clubs must finish the season, rather than concluding it on current positions or voiding it entirely, even if that means playing to empty stadiums.
“The players have a responsibility to be ready if and when the season restarts,” he told the Daily mail. “I have 100 per cent faith that they will look after themselves.
“They’ve worked unbelievably hard to get into this situation this season, they have worked unbelievably hard to get into the Premier League and they are a really tight group as well.
“At first, I didn’t want to play the remaining games behind closed doors but my point of view now is that, if that is what it has to be in order to finish the season, then that is what it has to be.
“There’s no compromise in this. We have to finish the season, however long it takes.
“The idea of freezing positions as they are now is not for me, even though you look at the table and think it wouldn’t be a bad result for this club from a selfish point of view.
“Everyone will look at it from a selfish point of view and they have to come out of that. The Premier League season is a race. It is 38 games. No matter how many points somebody is ahead or how many points somebody is behind, it’s sport and anything can happen.
“If it means not going to Newcastle in front of 50,000 people, not playing Arsenal in the FA Cup quarter-final in front of 30,000, not going to Manchester United in front of 75,000, it will be a disappointment.
“But there is a bigger picture here in terms of public health. We put that in perspective and so it won’t wreck our season. When football resumes, I’m positive we will be able to finish the season on a high.”
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