Every word Patrick Vieira said on Tottenham game, Covid cases, Premier League strike and more



How are the team doing?

We hope we’re going to be okay [to face Spurs] but when you’re looking at the number of cases around we start to be worried. We had a couple of cases in our football club in the last couple of days. We try our best to prevent the situation but it is worrying because the evolution for the next couple of days we don’t know how it will go.

How was the meeting with the other Premier League managers yesterday?

I think when you have a meeting like that with 20 managers it is always difficult to put your ideas or what you really think across. You know, when the meeting finished, you just try to understand what was the outcome of the meeting? What was the meeting for? I still didn’t understand what was the conclusion from that meeting.

Three games in seven days now but does it help that two of those are at home?

Yeah, it’s a busy period. But it’s the festive period and I think this is part of the country’s culture. I used to love playing during this period. We knew that it will be challenging and we have to prepare ourselves the best way. But, obviously, the Covid situation, it makes things more difficult, more challenging.

You got your first win as Crystal Palace manager against Tottenham Hotspur three months ago, how much have you learnt in your position in that time?

It’s a really competitive league. I learn every day about my players. And you know, when you are in a difficult situation where you don’t win for three games and how we will respond. The players’ constant concentration and determination to bounce back. I think in every situation, I have learned more about the players’ ability to face difficulties and this is what I believe I have learned from those last couple of months.

Palace have one Premier League win at Tottenham, is that something that motivates you?

It’s a very difficult place to go. The atmosphere, the players, the energy when they play at home is really good. We know what to expect. So what is important for us is to play with courage and with confidence and belief and to give ourselves the best chance to get the result. We know it’s going to be difficult, but we can make it as well difficult for them.

Is James McArthur back yet?

No, he is still injured.

Any other injuries?

No, we have players who did not train the last couple of days. So injuries-wise, there is not a big worry but we have to see how those players will carry on the next couple of days.

Recently there’s been a lot of talk about player welfare, especially at this time of year with fixtures and Covid. Does more need to be done to protect the players?

I’m not worried about the players’ welfare regarding the [frequency of] games during this period because it’s been like that for years and years. I’m worried about their welfare regarding COVID. Players coming back from the COVID situation and asking them to play with not enough training is a lot on them. This is what I’m worried about.

Have you come across Antonio Conte during your career? What do you make of him?

No, I have never really come across him. He is somebody who feels passionate about the game, he’s got this Italian passion for loving the game. And he’s been really successful in every club that he went to. So it will be a pleasure to meet him.

Wilfried Zaha is in the Ivory Coast squad, did you speak to him? You said you were confident he’d be in the squad?

I’m not surprised that those players have been selected for the African Cup of Nations. And we knew it. And you know, I’m not surprised [Wilfried] has been selected.

Pep Guardiola said on Thursday about players going on strike, would they have a legitimate reason to do so?

I don’t know if they will be right to do it. The only thing that I can tell you is that I’m against this kind of strike. I think what is really important at the moment is the voice of players or managers should be heard a little bit more.

Are you expecting a few boos from the Spurs fans on Boxing Day?

I’m expecting more than just a couple of boos.

Was the meeting a fait accompli yesterday? What was the point of it?

I don’t know if I’m the right person to answer that question because I still don’t know or understand what was the point of the meeting yesterday. I think it was maybe informal, but I can’t answer that question.

Are you happy to play on?

I think it’s just about trying to really understand the guidance of the rules about why we are playing or why we don’t play, why one team should play or not another team. I think we need to understand more why those game has been cancelled. I think yes, we understand that this is the Covif situation and some clubs have been hit by that situation plus the injuries but I think in every situation in every club it is different.

I think there’s not clear guidance of rules about why those game has been cancelled. I think we may need to have more information about what’s going on because you will have teams that will play three games and some of the ones will not play. So I think all the situation is not clear enough.

Do you enjoy playing over Christmas? A lot of managers complain about it.

Yes, but I think managers may be complaining because of the Covid situation, I think it’s not the first time that these three games [are played] in this kind of festive period. I think when you play those three games, and you have numbers of Covid too, obviously, it makes it more difficult to compete.

And I think that this is the issue, that it is not about the three games because it’s been more than 100 years that these three games in this period of the year. So as a manager, we have to manage this period. But what makes it more complicated is the number of Covid cases that you have to deal with.

Would you now be in favour of having five subs instead of three?

I think five substitutions regarding the period that we are at at the moment can be the right answer for us as a manager. I don’t think that will be fair for the top five teams and the rest of us. So any decision you will make, you’ll have people who will be for and people who will be against. But me personally, I don’t know if we should, we should remain with the three substitutes.

As somebody who was born in Senegal, how important is the African Cup of Nations and are you happy about that in January with the safety side of things, and also the fact that they’re going to play more games?

I respect and understand the passion and the importance of those players to go and represent their country and their nation. I would never stop any players that are going to play the Africa Cup of Nations. I believe that that competition has to be respected more around. This competition is just as important as the European Championship.

In England, people won’t think that.

it may be important for you guys to cover the African Cup of Nations a little bit more and to go to Africa and to interview people to really understand what it means, for every single one of them. And when you’re talking about Senegal, I don’t think people will understand if [Sadio] Mane or Cheikhou Kouyate will not represent their nation. So if there were more coverage, and that competition, I think people will understand more, how important it is for the African continent.





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