Former Wimbledon player and Northern Ireland coach Lawrie Sanchez doesn’t think the season will be over, and Liverpool’s success even if the title was allotted would forever be dotted with an asterisk next to their name in the record books.
The last meeting of the Premier League clubs on Monday confirmed once again the clubs’ desire to end the season, with suggestions that the matches could still be played on club grounds rather than on neutral venues.
But with some players like Sergio Aguero and Danny Rose continuing to voice concerns over the reboot as early as next month, when the daily death toll is still in the hundreds, Sanchez – who marked the winner of Wimbledon against Liverpool in the FA Cup 1988 final – told the Irish Independent that he does not see how football can restart in June.
He said: “For me, the plans they are developing will not come true and the season will never be over.
“Sergio Aguero came out and said he was worried about returning to football while we are still in the middle of it and that he will not be alone.
“I don’t think players will be quarantined and won’t be allowed out of a team hotel for two months and if they go home after training, maybe they live with elderly, and that means a lot of players will be withdrawing while playing.
“It means playing weakened teams in empty stadiums and all teams playing on neutral ground. Do we really want to watch this?
“So what happens when it turns out that a player or manager or even a physio has contracted the virus? Should the whole team be quarantined for two weeks and all of their matches postponed? I don’t see it and that’s why I think the plans they’re making will never come to fruition.
“While it would be nice to see promotion and relegation sorted out before we take a break and hope that the virus is controlled or neutralized by a vaccine, but it all sounds like a long term right now. “
Sanchez, who took the third-level Wycombe Wanderers to the FA Cup semifinals in 2001 where they lost to Liverpool at Villa Park, also believes that the winter break that was introduced this season – that Jurgen Klopp was a top defender – cost the Reds a chance to tie the title before football is suspended due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I think you can declare Liverpool champion, but you will have to have them as champions with an asterisk forever,” he said.
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“It is ironic that Klopp was the manager pushing more than anyone else for a winter break and since they had this break in the season, Liverpool has lost all momentum and the decline in form and time taken out of the season means they could have won the league now if they didn’t have that break.
“If the league is not over, I don’t think anyone would object to them being champions because they are so far ahead, but there will always be that mark against them because they have never crossed the finishing line. “