Sheffield United make 'Project Restart' demand
Clubs should follow the same fixture programmes they were scheduled to adhere to before coronavirus forced the Premier League into lockdown when competition resumes next month, Chris Wilder has argued.
With the remaining 92 matches set to be squeezed into a seven week window, there have been suggestions the order in which games will be played could change in order to prevent logistical problems.
But Wilder, whose Sheffield United side were preparing to face Newcastle when the season was suspended in March, believes that would cause further damage to the integrity of a campaign which is already set to be influenced by the return of several key players - including Tottenham Hotspur’s Harry Kane and Son Heung-Min - from injury. The duo would both have missed Spurs’ visit to Bramall Lane earlier this term had it gone ahead as planned but could now be at the Londoners’ disposal when they eventually face United.
“I think it's got to be in the same order,” Wilder, the United manager, insisted. “I don’t think it would be right if there’s changes. If people are asking me, then we should stick to seeing it through in the saw way we would have done if all of this hadn’t happened.”
If ‘Project Restart’ is put into action in June 12 - something Wilder insists is achievable despite hearing several of his counterparts express concerns - United could be forced to play a match every 3.8 days if they also advance to the final of the FA Cup. They reached the last eight of the tournament, where they are due to face Arsenal at home, by beating Reading in February.
After returning to small-sided training last week, United hope they and their top-flight rivals will receive the all-clear to begin ‘Phase Two’ of the PL’s plan shortly.
Wilder’s squad were issued with watt bikes and treadmills after being forced to close the Steelphalt Academy at the height of the pandemic.
“The sessions have been really tough,” Wilder said. “And the lads have done brilliantly, keeping themselves in shape through this.”