Nigel Pearson has criticised Boris Johnson for a “lack of leadership” over the coronavirus pandemic and said playing matches behind closed doors would have been a “stupid idea”.

The Watford head coach was speaking prior to the decision to suspend the Premier League until at least April 3 due to the Covid-19 outbreak, but called for “positive action” from the top-flight’s governing body.

Pearson said: “I don’t think we had any great leadership last night listening to the Prime Minister. I was totally underwhelmed by the lack of leadership and clear message in terms of what was said in that press conference.

“We are trying to be proactive ourselves and I think what is very important is hopefully the Premier League will make strong decisions based on what is right for everybody within the game.”

Asked if the players had expressed concern about the situation, Pearson responded: “We have a squad which is multi-cultural, players from different parts of the world and there’s going to be anxiety about their families and that is our primary concern.

“It’s very difficult to wear the two hats of preparing for a football match when actually the humanitarian side is a lot more important, but we have to wait to hear what the Premier League decide and whatever they decide we will abide by.”

The decision to suspend the league has removed the possibility of games being played being closed doors, at least for the time being, a prospect Pearson was completely against.

He said: “The rate with which the situation appears to have escalated this week has probably sharpened everybody’s minds and opinions. I hear stories about us playing games behind closed doors and I feel that is rather a misplaced point of view.

“What about us? What about the coaching staff? What about the players? I’s a contact sport. I think it’s naïve at best and, in my opinion, I think it’s a stupid idea.”

He continued: “I think the Premier League will take a lot of credit if they came out with a positive action, rather than wait to be instructed by the government what to do. We will only see more cases emerging I’m sure and what is very important is that we protect the interests of everybody.

“The fans of football clubs want to see their teams play, they want to support them and I think it’s only right that is the case. I don’t think playing games behind closed doors does anything other than try and fulfil contractual obligations.

“For me it’s about the wellbeing of people and we have to be mindful this worldwide problem is not going to go away. It is going to run its course, its not something we can stop and we, in the football industry, have a responsibility to ourselves and each other to make sure the wellbeing of everybody concerned is taken care of first and foremost.”