Everton boss Carlo Ancelotti has opened up on a conversation with Jurgen Klopp in which the pair agreed that it was ‘criminal’ for Liverpool’s recent defeat to Atletico Madrid to go ahead in light of the coronavirus pandemic.
Despite the Spanish capital having been placed on lockdown earlier that week, thousands of Atleti fans descended on Merseyside for the second leg of their team’s Champions League last-16 tie against the holders.
They were treated to a thrilling game that saw the visitors seal their place in the next round, but the dangers of attending have been spelled out by the growing number of cases of Covid-19 reported in both countries since.
And Ancelotti has now revealed that his Liverpool counterpart did not feel comfortable with the fixture taking place, telling Corriere dello Sport: “The other day I heard [from] Klopp.
“He told me that making the game play in those conditions was a criminal act, I think he was right.”
Just two days after that Anfield contest, the Premier League were forced to suspend all fixtures for two weeks after Arsenal boss Mikel Arteta tested positive for the virus.
They have since pushed the provisional restart date back again to April 30, though Ancelotti is doubtful that football will be ready to resume even then.
And the Italian expects football’s ongoing shutdown to have lasting consequences for the sport in the long term.
“As of today, our main priority is health, to limit the spread of the virus - everything else is secondary,” he added.
“At this point in time, the last thing I’m thinking about it is when we’ll start again, when will this all finish, the dates, the promises, the hopes. I don’t care about that right now.
“The Premier League is making all clubs give three weeks of leave to every player and staff member. The initial idea was to start again in May, but it seems impossible as it stands now.
“I’m hearing people talking about cutting salaries or even to suspend them, I think these are unthinkable solutions and even inappropriate.
“Very soon, the economy will change on all levels, there will be a lack of television rights [money], the players and managers will earn less, tickets will cost much less because people will have less money.
“Let’s be ready to face a general decline.”
With the players in the midst of an unexpected break from their training routine, talk of a mini pre-season period being required before fixtures begin again has surfaced.
But Ancelotti is sceptical that such preparation time would be factored in, not least because of his experiences as AC Milan boss 14 years ago.
After successfully reducing their punishment for involvement in the Calciopoli scandal, the Rossoneri were given just four days to prepare for a Champions League qualifier against Red Star - as the Toffees manager remembers all too well.
He continued: “I repeat, what really matters now is the virus. Then, of course, if time will allow, we will carry on with the season. If not, it’s not the end of the world.
“It makes me laugh to think of all these people who are talking about the time we need to practise. There are even those who go on about three weeks of training - it’s bull****. That is a joke. This preparation is a myth.
“I remember in 2006, due to Calciopoli, Milan initially stepped out of the first four positions. All of sudden, they took away part of our penalty and we were forced to go through preliminary matches for the Champions League.
“I remember I had to call all of the guys who were on holiday because four days later we would have had to play a game against Red Star. Cafu even made it back from Brazil 24 hours before the game.”