London (AFP) – Birmingham manager Pep Clotet admits he is struggling to do his job properly as he deals with the stress of being separated from his family due to the coronavirus.
Clotet sent his wife Vanessa, three-year-old son Max and one-year-old daughter Helena, back home to Spain last week in a bid to keep them safe from the deadly pandemic.
But, within a day of arriving in Igualada, their town was in lockdown because of the virus.
Clotet’s father Ramon, 71, and mother Maria, 68 are also in the area near Barcelona and the Birmingham manager is finding it almost impossible to focus fully on his football duties while his family are so far away.
“It is incredibly worrying. I am caught between two worlds. I feel I cannot do my job properly. I keep thinking, ‘Maybe I should go back?’ But I cannot go back because I am working,” Clotet told the Daily Mirror.
“I am so worried. At the moment, everything is OK with the family. We are all still alive.
“In Spain we have been more aware than people were in England. It hit us earlier but it is still on an upward curve.
“But we know what is coming. I don’t think people in England do. In Spain they were getting another 2,000 cases a week.
“We felt they were controlling things better in Spain and where we live there is better, so we decided they should go back.
“It was safer so I rushed them to the airport, but as soon as they got to Igualada there was a major outbreak and the police closed it.
“We have a small farm there, as well as a house, so they could be pretty isolated. My parents are locked down in the house and my brother calls every few hours.”
Clotet, 42, said no players or staff at second tier Birmingham have tested positive for the coronavirus, but the Spaniard does not expect football will resume any time soon.
The English Football League and Premier League have suspended games until April 30 at the earliest and Clotet said: “I am not optimistic. There is a lot to consider. The most important thing by far is to protect human lives.
“Even if you play a game behind closed doors you are still talking about more than 50 people being in the stadium. This is not going to be solved in two to three weeks.”
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