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Ian Clarke: Players must refuse to play if they don’t feel safe

Players must be united over the return of football. Picture: Paul Chesterton

Players must be united over the return of football. Picture: Paul Chesterton

Paul Chesterton

I was hugely impressed with Daniel Farke’s interview on Sky Sports News this week.

Norwich head coach Daniel Farke says no lives should be put at risk by football 
Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich head coach Daniel Farke says no lives should be put at risk by football Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

If you haven’t seen it, he said in essence that he was keen for football to resume and have the chance for Norwich City to “perform the little miracle” - but not if one person is put at risk

It was a great mix of passion for the game we all love - but so much more importantly compassion for preserving human life.

Sadly there increasingly seems to be a sense among some of the key decision makers around the so-called Project Restart who seem to lack City head coach’s priorities.

The debate about getting football going again has reached fever pitch - and more evidence is emerging of real concerns that players have of being rushed back into action.

Norwich City legend Darren Eadie.
 Picture: IAN BURTNorwich City legend Darren Eadie. Picture: IAN BURT

Manchester City striker Sergio Aguero said: “The majority of players are scared because they have family, they have children, they have babies, parents.”

Former England and Liverpool forward-turned pundit Stan Collymore posted a massively sobering tweet to his 893k followers.

Above a photograph of the player, Collymore said: “This is Junior Sambia. 23. Plays for Montpellier. Tested positive for Covid. After deteriorating, placed in a coma. Still poorly. If one player on English soil goes through anything this unnecessary, I will help fund a legal action against any league that takes that risk.”

Closer to home, City legend Darren Eadie has slammed the Professional Footballers’ Association for not standing up for the health and safety of players.

Action from the Norwich City Football Club promotion parade through Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie HoneywoodAction from the Norwich City Football Club promotion parade through Norwich. PICTURE: Jamie Honeywood

In a powerful Pink Un podcast, Eadie said: “The PFA has members which are football players throughout the country and if they decide they’re not going to go back for health and safety reasons, then that puts an end to all of these

discussions straight away,”

There are also strong reports that football club doctors are voicing concerns about risks to players if they are forced back too soon.

A 100-point letter has been sent to the Premier League from medical experts with a theme of “As doctors, how can we approve guidelines that still carry the risk of death?”

Norwich City fans await whether the Premier League resumes and in what form Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images LtdNorwich City fans await whether the Premier League resumes and in what form Picture: Paul Chesterton/Focus Images Ltd

I have been really surprised about the backlash I have seen from supporters and the huge caution about the return of football due to safety concerns.

Knowing how much so many people love the game and have desperately missed football, I had probably expected a feeling that as long as reasonable measures are put in place, it should be go, go, go.

I had anticipated comments like “well they get paid enough, they should just get on with it”.

The reality that I have seen and heard has been totally different.

There is strong opposition to playing games behind closed doors and anger about phrases such as “preserving the integrity of the league”.

As I type, the death toll from coronavirus in the UK has gone above 30,000.

Just think about sitting inside a packed out Carrow Road and the equivalent of every single person in that stadium has lost their lives since we were last there for the victory over Leicester.

You can add 3000 other people to that total.

Some estimates are that the final number of fatalities could nearly double by the time a vaccine is found.

Having read some of the leaked details about Project Restart, there are safeguards being considered for players. backroom staff and others who will be in the grounds.

However, they are in no way going far enough to reassure the players - who let’s never forget are human beings with treasured loved ones.

Without players, football is nothing.

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The whole concept of “player power” has not necessarily always been a good thing.

There have been times when wages have been over-inflated and football has been sold short because of the actions of some, knowing there is very little which can be done to stop them.

In this area, however, I am totally behind the players - both in the Premier League and all the other tiers where there is continued uncertainty about what will happen.

They must be talking together and sharing their concerns.

The lads at all levels must unite and have a single, powerful voice to only return when they feel safe.

They have to feel empowered to refuse to take to the pitches - whatever sanctions that could lead to.

And I agree with Eadie that fans will stand shoulder to shoulder with them.

Pick of the best

I know many of you have turned to Canary nostalgia to get your football fix during lockdown.

Looking back at old games, recalling favourite moments, discussing the best managers - and very aptly this week reliving the anniversary of winning the Championship in style and those amazing celebrations in the city centre.

That prompted my son Tom and his mate Dan and me to go through the promotion teams from 2003/4, 2010/11, 2014/15 and last year’s to get a best starting XI.

Easy? No way!

I pondered long and hard, wrote lists, did crossings out and changed formations.

Eventually I came up with this team - Krul, Aarons, Drury, Malky, Klose, Howson, Jonno, Hucks, Wes, Emi and Holty - and yes my mouth watered at the prospect of bringing them all together in one team. (By the way, the three of us all picked Aarons, Drury, Wes, Howson, Hucks and Emi).

Now it’s over to you - I’d be interested to hear your thoughts.

DON’T MISS: The class of 2019 or the 2004 vintage?

How about some yellow, Daniel?

I wasn’t at all surprised that Daniel Farke was a big hit in the latest Premier League managers’ style award.

Whatever the weather, whether City are doing well or struggling, you can guarantee that our head coach is always well turned out and looking mighty fine.

Of course we all know he’s a true “man in black” and clearly has a certain clothing range which he favours.

It’s the “Farke parka” which caught the fashion judges’ eyes.

I have one (unashamedly selfish) reason for wishing that sometimes DF would slightly alter his colours.

The brilliant Paul Chesterton produces amazing photos of City games for our websites and newspapers and when I am putting our front pages together after a game it is always a pleasure to go through the fantastic range he sends to us.

But when it comes to Daniel it can be tricky to pick a bright image - especially if it’s been a gloomy day (or night). Maybe he could try yellow occasionally...?!


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