Can you rule out a deal for Jack Wilshere to solve your depth problems in midfield?
I think I was very clear on the situation with Jack and the role he’s going to have around here and we will continue the same way.
Is Dusan Vlahovic the kind of big deal you’d be interested in doing in January if you could get it over the line?
I think with the amount of things and the way we want to evolve the squad we have to maximise every window in every way. We are already, Edu and his team are working very hard because we know exactly what we need to do. Whether we can accomplish that in January or the summer is a different question related to other stuff. But we are there.
Arsenal has been heavily linked with the Serbian international this January transfer window with the hope to sign the striker from Fiorentina.
If the big opportunity came along you would go for it this January then?
Again if it’s the right player and we can afford it and we can do what we want to do, we will discuss and make the best possible decision. We are open.
With Auba having tested positive for COVID are you annoyed that players who have gone away for AFCON are contracting the virus as you feared could happen?
I don’t know. It’s just the reality that a lot of people are contracting COVID unfortunately and you can get it in different ways. I’m not here to judge anybody and certainly I don’t have the right facts to do so.
What will be your process on checking in with those players at AFCON during the month?
We have a constant dialogue with the players, we have a constant dialogue if possible with a member of the coaching staff and fitness coaches of every national team. That communication takes a few minutes to do, but the day is long and you cannot tell everything that has happened three times a day. So there are things that you have to trust and rely on those national teams to look after your players.
Do you think that earlier in the winter when games were being postponed, that there should have been more leadership and the Carabao Cup semi-finals should have been put to one leg?
It’s something that was discussed, but the arrangements and the commitments that they have made that call extremely difficult. I think it’s something that we really need to discuss for future years because the calendar year is becoming something that is exceptionally difficult for the players.
How difficult is it to plan more than a week ahead at the moment with games being called off so late?
And the morning of the training session you always have changes at the moment! You have to live with that. For the next few months I don’t think anything is going to change in our favour and things are going to happen and we have to adapt. I think we all now realise that it’s part of our jobs to act and react to a very volatile and uncertain environment.
Do you regret making lots of changes last season against Southampton and getting beaten?
Those decisions are judged on results, but most of the time the information is not there on how the players are feeling how they recover, if somebody’s sick, if someone has a personal issue – which was the case on that day – and then it is a moment where you have to trust your players as well. You have a squad of players you don’t have 11 players and you have to be capable of performing and if you want to see that you have to give them the opportunity to do that.
Are you getting worried about a backlog of fixtures?
Yes because depending on where you fit those games and the calendar that you have it can be very detrimental and that’s when the fairness of the competition becomes crucial. It’s going to happen and has already happened for us in two games, and it’s possible that it happens again.
They’ve got rid of replays so how much do you want to avoid extra time on Sunday?
Absolutely. That would be detrimental, but we want to be in the next round.