‘There has been pain’: Mauricio Pochettino on how football can help people move past coronavirus

Mauricio Pochettino believes football can “help people look forward” as part of the process of recovering from the ruinous effects of coronavirus.

The former Tottenham manager understands “there is not a manual that can tell you how you need to behave in this situation,” but has stressed the importance of having the capacity to progress again.

“It’s not easy to imagine how it will look, whether everything will go back to the normality that we had before, that we have in our minds,” Pochettino responded when asked if the game will be reshaped by Covid-19 in the long-term.

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“There are massive, massive questions. Are we going to be able to work as we did in the past? Our responsibility as football people … we need to give an example with our behaviour.

“Obviously, we feel the pain and shock for how it has affected people, when it has touched them very closely. With Pep Guardiola, for example. I sent him a message after his mum passed away.

“Of course there has been pain, that’s going to be there.

“My worry is not only how the virus is scaring people and making them suffer, it’s how it’s going to affect us if we don’t have the capacity to move on again and to help make peoples’ lives easier.”

Pochettino subscribes to the notion that football provides as safe a workplace as is possible in the circumstances given the regular testing and strict protocols being put in place.

He also feels it has the power to energise people and uplift them after an arduous, life-altering few months.

The elite game in England has been suspended due to the global pandemic since March 13, with Premier League clubs only returning to phase one of training – with social distancing and in small groups – this week under the Project Restart plan.

The Bundesliga became the first major division to resume the 2019-2020 season last weekend and Pochettino hopes England’s top flight will follow suit next month.

“All the controls and protocols that the clubs are going to implement, I think it’s going to be a very safe place to be, to train, to work,” the 48-year-old said.

“I think Germany is a good example, to see how it’s working over there. I was listening to an interview of the CEO of the Bundesliga [Christian Seifert] and he said that football was helping the people to move on and to change the mood.

“We demand a lot from our fans when we are involved in games, we say we need the energy of the fans … now it’s our responsibility to make the effort.

“I’m not saying I am not sensible about it. But I think we need to try to be brave now and try to face the situation. Football is the happiness of the people, millions and millions of fans.

“Once there is football on TV, a lot of people change their energy. It’s going to be a massive effort, from the players, the staff, all the people, but it’s similar to the effort of people who are working – of course, the NHS, and the people that are working in the supermarket, in the pharmacy, on the farms providing us with food.

“We need to show solidarity. We need to accept that we are going to work in a very safe environment, that the protocols are going to be there to protect us.

“We can’t stop life. And not only life, there is a responsibility to the business, how we need to protect it for the future. There are a lot of people involved.”

Pochettino doesn’t think anyone in football will be able to escape the impact of coronavirus.

“It’s impossible that it’s not going to affect the clubs and, first of all, the people that work there – the staff.

“And of course the players and the coaches. Yes, it’s a thing that’s going to affect everyone. No-one is going to be out of this situation.”

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