Lee Bowyer on players taking wage deferrals, the 2019/20 season and life in lockdown

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Lee Bowyer is hoping for a restart to the 2019/20 season but can’t see that happening.

The Charlton Manager has been in lockdown since mid-March and in an interview with the club website talked about the challenges he faces, looking after his players and how he’s finding isolation.

How have you found lockdown?

It’s been difficult. There are pros and cons. I’m spending more time with the family for sure. I’ve been doing things I’ve not been able to do over the last two years since I’ve been [back] in football. Spending some nice quality time and doing things that I wouldn't normally do. 

Normally I come home from work and start work again by watching teams. The family took a back step, I put them on the back burner. I’ve been able to walk the dogs again, go on bike rides and do things that I normally wouldn’t do so it’s a positive but obviously I’m missing work. 

I love going in and I love everything that goes on at the training ground and the competitiveness on game day. There is pros and cons like in every walk of life.

Have you managed to keep fit?

I’ve definitely eaten a lot! Normally I don’t have three meals a day, I just eat in the evening but now I’m having breakfast, lunch and stuff in between and then dinner. But I have been on a few bike rides and a couple of runs, not very far though as my wife and kids are with me. I’ve been on a few on my own as well but not as much as I should have done looking at my body.

How has it been keeping in touch with the players?

I’ve kept in touch but not too much. I don’t want to seem like a police officer watching them every day, so it is from a distance mainly. We’ve had a few video calls to see if they’re alright and their families are okay. A lot of stuff is going through Josh [Hornby] and the physio department and that comes back to me but it’s better for them to speak to them directly. 

They’re itching to get back out there like everyone else, it’s their life so they’re missing it. It’s hard. They’re good lads though, doing everything and ticking every box and going beyond at times.

The players and football management have taken substantial wage deferrals to help secure the club through the Coronavirus crisis. How impressed were you with the players agreeing a wage deferral?

Our recruitment has been very good, we’ve always bought in good, honest lads. You see that every Saturday as they give everything on the pitch. They realise that the club is in a difficult situation. We had to explain that on Zoom to the players regarding what is going on behind the scenes and they were all willing to help. Us as the first-team staff have done the same. It’s the right thing to do. In times like this the club is the most important thing. Players come and go, so do staff but the club will always be there so we have to make sure that’s the case.

What’s your take on the footballing situation and the potential of the league restarting?

Everyone has different opinions on the footballing side of things. Mine is that I can’t see how we’re going to get going again. I want to finish the season, it’s the right thing to do but I think there’s going to be too many hurdles. Once we get past one I think another will come in the way and if you get past that there'll be more. I hope I’m wrong but I can’t see it. Finishing the season is the right thing to do, everyone wants it for the game but I can’t see it. That’s the frustrating thing too as we still have the players ticking over. 

There has to be a point where we say look, the season is over. It’s been six weeks now since we last played. It’s a long time. Then we’ll have maybe three weeks to get fit again. We had five weeks in the summer, five weeks the summer before that and even then we had to cram it in. Normally it’s a six week period to get fit in pre-season so I can’t see it’s going to work.

With the uncertainty about the timescale of a restart how tough is it to work out what to do with the team?

The first two or three weeks we kept them ticking over then upped it a bit and now we’ve come off them, they’re just resting now. If we start playing in June and July they’ll burn out so we’ve come off them and have to pick it up again the next date we can start training again but it won’t be until the middle of May earliest, we’ll pick it up again once we get closer to that time.

In these difficult times, do you have a message to the fans?

Stick together and stay safe. The most important thing is that people stick together through this. It’s a difficult situation for everyone. If we do that we have more chance coming through the other side.

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