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jose blast Mourinho raging at top-flight's chaos after game axed hours before kick-off


Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Reuters

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Reuters

Tottenham Hotspur manager Jose Mourinho. Photo: Reuters

Jose Mourinho took aim at the Premier League after his Tottenham side had their fixture with Fulham cancelled just three hours before kick-off as the top flight was engulfed in more Covid-19 chaos.

Tottenham are understood to be frustrated and unhappy at not being given more information before last night's game was called off at Fulham's request, following a coronavirus outbreak within their camp.

As Manchester City returned to training two days after their game with Everton was postponed, the Premier League insisted there was no need to consider pausing games with a two-week "circuit-breaker".

Mourinho, the Spurs manager, was furious that he still did not know whether his side would play just four hours before kick-off, posting footage on Instagram of him waiting alongside players and coaches at the club's Hotspur Way training ground with a clock showing 2.02pm. "Match at 6pm ... We still don't know if we play. Best league in the world," he wrote.

Fulham's coronavirus outbreak emerged on Tuesday, with the club confirming "a number of the club's players and first-team staff" returned positive results.

City's trip to Goodison Park was postponed on Monday afternoon following cases in Pep Guardiola's squad. However, City have since been given the all-clear to return to training at the Etihad Campus after test results showed no further Covid-19 infections, meaning their clash against Chelsea is likely to go ahead at the weekend.

Chelsea's FA Cup game against Morecambe on January 10, however, is in doubt as the League Two club have had to close their training ground because of a Covid-19 outbreak.

Everton, meanwhile, demanded "full disclosure" from the Premier League over the circumstances around the cancellation of their match, which manager Carlo Ancelotti revealed his club still had not received two days later.

"The full Covid-19 bubble underwent testing on Tuesday, and results have so far revealed no new positive cases," City said in a statement, confirming that those not in isolation had returned to training.

"The first-team training buildings have undergone a deep clean and the majority of these facilities will remain closed, with only essential operations around training resuming. The bubble will undergo further testing in the coming days."

The Premier League insisted it had "full confidence" that the season could continue as scheduled. The rise in cases, caused by a new variant of the virus, led to Sam Allardyce, the West Bromwich Albion manager, backing a "circuit breaker" two-week period without football. It was informally discussed by some chairmen.

"With low numbers of positive tests, the Premier League continues to have full confidence in its Covid-19 protocols and being able to continue to play our fixtures as scheduled," it said in a statement.

Gary Neville, the former England full-back, has insisted that any break in the season needs to be longer than two weeks. His view was posted on his Twitter account, and backed by Aston Villa winger Jack Grealish.

"Can we please get this two-week circuit breaker thing off the table," Neville wrote. "What is that going to do? Would have to be a long break to do anything meaningful!"

Ancelotti says football should continue for the sake of those confined indoors, but has raised concerns at the risks outside the bubble of elite teams.

"We have to take care of this and follow the protocols and I think not all the people follow the protocols," he said. "The protocols that the Premier League put in place are really good. We feel safe in our bubble, but outside I have to pay attention. I was surprised when I was walking and not all the people wear masks."

The Premier League will still have a problem fitting in the postponed matches before the end of the season should City and Spurs remain in cup competitions. Both are still in the EFL Cup and, should Mourinho get past Brentford in the semi-finals, his team's return clash against Fulham in April will also need to be rearranged.

While extending the season appears impossible with the European Championship scheduled in May, the Football League has fewer international players and more flexibility, although Peterborough chairman Darragh MacAnthony wants the season fulfilled.

"If we have to extend League One and Two beyond May, I think we can do it. It's not going to affect the Euros. But I don't think we need to shut down or have a break," he said. "Last time we shut it down it took quite a while before we were up playing football."

Karl Robinson, the Oxford United manager, believes protocols need to be tightened in the EFL as "there are certain aspects of our football clubs that may be getting a little bit sloppy", using the example of indoor gyms with too many players using them at once.

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