Troy Deeney has admitted he feels sorry for Liverpool after the coronavirus pandemic “spoiled” what looks likely to be their first title winning season since 1990.
After beating Bournemouth in their last Premier League game on 7th March, the Reds needed just two more wins to secure the Premier League in record time.
However, COVID-19 brought a halt to sporting action around the world meaning Jurgen Klopp’s side have been delayed in wrapping up the title, extending the club’s long wait for another first division triumph by another few months.
It looks as though the Merseyside outfit will eventually be given the opportunity to finish the job, with Premier League teams yesterday unanimously voting to return to full contact training as a return to play edges closer, but Deeney believes the disruption caused by the pandemic has already taken the shine of Liverpool’s dominant campaign.
In an interview with CNN, cited on the Liverpool Echo, the Hornets striker said: “I believe that when it comes to the integrity of this season anyway, it’s already gone.
“I feel sorry for Liverpool because no matter how it plays out, they deserve to win the league. They deserve to get the trophy.
“But no matter how it plays out, even if we play all the games, it’s still going to be the year spoiled by the pandemic. It’s not going to be that year that Liverpool won the league being the best team and, you know, it’s 30 years they haven’t won for.
“So I do feel sorry for Liverpool and their players and Jordan [Henderson], but in terms of integrity, there’s no way you could say that this is a viable competition.
“It’s like running a marathon, 20 odd miles, stopping for two months and then sprinting the last bit and going: ‘Ah, that was a good time that.'”
Deeney also spoke about the public reaction to his decision not to return to training earlier this month, saying he was “hammered and battered” for choosing not to resume daily training along with the rest of his teammates.
At the time, the 31-year-old argued he was protecting himself and his family by not going back, while he also wanted more answers regarding the risk posed to BAME players by the virus, but that was met with some anger on social media.
On the backlash he received, Deeney said: “In a time where it’s all about mental health and everyone says: ‘Speak up, speak out, please speak’, Danny Rose spoke out… and I spoke out and we got absolutely hammered and battered for it.
“So people see that and go: ‘Woah’ and it’s not just us that gets it, the missus gets direct messages and you’ll be walking down the street and people will be like: ‘Oh, I’m at work, you go back to work.’
“I just think my concerns were purely for family reasons. I needed more questions answered with a bit more authority and, at the start, they couldn’t really do that, but not for any reason or want [of trying], it was just because they didn’t have the information.”