Manchester United was almost invaded by COVID-19 on Tuesday while they were preparing to play a friendly match with Championship side, Stoke City. The friendly match was cancelled at the last minute when the coach of the championship side Michael O’Neill tested positive for coronavirus.
O’Neill was part of the people tested in the 5th round of testing in the second-tier league on Monday. The result came out early enough before the friendly match could commence at the training facility of Manchester United in Carrington.
While announcing that Michael O’Neill has been confirmed to be a carrier of the virus, Stoke City said the Assistant manager of the club Billy McKinlay will continue to supervise the training of the squad while the head manager continues to self-isolate until he tests negative twice.
“Stoke City can confirm that manager Michael O’Neill has tested positive for the Covid-19 virus following the latest round of testing on Monday (June 8),” the club’s statement said.
“O’Neill had tested negative in the previous five rounds of testing. He will now follow the relevant guidance and undergo a period of isolation, whilst continuing to be in regular virtual contact with his coaching staff and players.
“Assistant manager Billy McKinlay will take charge of training as the Potters prepare for their game against Reading on June 20. The club will be making no further comment on this matter.”
On the part of Manchester United, the club has insisted that no member of the club came in contact with Michael O’Neill in the process of planning for the friendly or in any other means prior to being confirmed a carrier of the virus.
Hence, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his squad have since continued training in their Carrington training facility after the cancellation of the proposed friendly.
Just like other clubs in the Premier League, 5th placed Manchester United has intensified training in anticipation of the restart of the 2019-2020 season which was halted on March 13 in order to contain the spread of the dreaded coronavirus pandemic.
The Premier League is set to restart on June 17, all things being equal. United with 45 points and 9 matches left to play are hoping to use the remaining matches to displace 4th placed Chelsea football club or 3rd placed Leicester City when the season finally restarts. Their first match is against 8th placed Tottenham Hotspur on Friday, June 19.
So far, the Premier League has conducted 6 round of coronavirus testing and about 12 people have been confirmed to be carriers of the virus in the league. No positive result was returned in the last round of testing. Still, testing will continue on a twice-weekly basis until the season is finally over.