Jose Mourinho’s controversial call to breach coronavirus lockdown protocol came as no surprise to Dimitar Berbatov, with the Tottenham boss considered to be “impatient” and a coach who “always operated outside the box”.
It has been revealed that Spurs’ enigmatic coach held an informal training session with Ryan Sessegnon, Tanguy Ndombele and Davinson Sanchez.
Mourinho’s actions have been widely condemned, with social distancing measures having been put in place across the world as people are urged to stay at home and protect health services.
The Portuguese has apologised and admitted that he was “not in line” with government advice, but Berbatov says the former Chelsea and Manchester United manager has always looked to make his own rules.
The ex-Spurs striker told Betfair: “Jose Mourinho has admitted he was wrong to hold an informal training session with three Tottenham players on Hadley Common in north London.
“He did it because he is impatient for football to return, and I understand that, but he's broken the social distancing rules and that's not good. Footballers and managers are in an influential position in society and they need to set an example to their fans in this very difficult situation.
“I can't say I was particularly surprised by Mourinho's behaviour. He has always operated outside the box and that's one of the reasons he's been successful and fans love him. But this is different. Hopefully, although it was a mistake to hold this session on the common, Mourinho and his players were still keeping a safe distance from each other.
“I can see why Mourinho would be desperate to get back to work. Everyone in football wants the game to return as soon as possible. When you hear that other leagues are already setting a date for when they will resume, then you become even more impatient to get back - but public health comes first.
“For players, sitting at home, trying to stay fit, is difficult because they want to be as sharp as possible when the season restarts. Footballers are in a fortunate position, though, compared to most people. Many players live in large houses with gardens so they can improvise training routines at home, with weights for example, but it's not the same and it isn't easy to stay focused.”
The Premier League is among those divisions to have been shut down amid the coronavirus crisis. It has been revealed that competitive football will remain in a state of indefinite postponement until well into May, with admissions made that 2019-20 campaigns may not be completed at all.