This pandemic could be a blessing in disguise for football, if we seize the opportunity

by Don McMahon

The footballing world, along with the global community, is full of disappointment, confusion and dismay over the potential entertainment, financial, social and health implications that threaten to overwhelm our worldwide social fabric.

The Coronavirus, a flu-like, but far more nefarious virus, is currently invading and changing our comfortable, uneventful and mundane lives as it threatens to keep us away from friends and family, isolate us from our sports colleagues and force us to work in isolation, so we may avoid being infected by or infecting others.

I do not make light of this, unlike the moron in the White House initially did, but behind every cloud there is always a silver lining. My long-dead Irish grannie always cheerfully said this just before the crap hit the ventilator. Her infectious optimism and ceaseless adaptability to the worst circumstances afflicting her came from living through a war of independence, two world wars and an economic depression all the while raising five sons, as a single parent.

All of which is to say that there might be some needed positive changes coming out of this fiasco, both for Arsenal, Football Club in general, and possibly (despite politicians and the rich elites best efforts) for everyone worldwide…

Let me explain:

1: Arsenal’s season may be over, depending on the length of the quarantine period. Our coach, who has been under enormous and unremitting pressure since he took over, now has a hiatus to recover his energies and actually review his team, his tactics and medium to long-term strategies, and his needs and options regarding his playing assets. Even if the season isn’t over but restarts sometime in April (highly doubtful knowing how this virus progresses) his many injured players will be well on the way to full recovery and will have time to be more gradually reintegrated into the first team when they are ready, without excess pressure to play them prematurely.

2: He never had a proper pre-season but now he can actually evaluate his players, who will not be exhausted but, rather like returning summer-rested candidates, eager and ready for selection and training with the distinct advantage of already knowing their coach intimately, and vice-versa. He probably won’t play exhibition games but rather it is likely that a lot of inter-squad Football will help confirm his already profound knowledge of each player.

3: The team will know their fate for 2019-2020 based on what format the EPL and FA decide to use to complete the remainder of this truncated season. If the EPL and Sweet FA, in their unique wisdom, decide not to complete this season, then Arteta, the Board and his team will have a clear and unequivocal guideline about where they stand for 2020-2021. Things may be far more complicated for the Arsenal, but at least they will be crystal clear, based on what the rather strange people heading the EPL and the FA decide.

4: We’ve had a wonderful experience with our youth and reserves this season, discovering fabulous talents like Saka and Martinelli, and already blossoming professionals like Nkeitah and Martinez, to name a few. This hiatus will give Arteta a chance to invite other talented players he might not normally consider, due to the pressures of the schedule.

5: The media, now desperately starved of worthwhile football topics will also be on undeserved and unmerited vacation and will likely NOT focus on Arsenal’s failings but rather a repetitive stream of meaningless and idle speculation about the financial, entertainment, journalistic and social consequences the pandemic is causing in Britain….or at least inventing scare stories to frighten their already brain-dead readers.

6: British Football, apparently being superior to their European counterparts, will have an occasion to review their sins, examine their PIGMOB cabal in depth, reconsider how to recuperate the vast sums the clubs are losing, especially at the gates, and generally reinvent themselves to be even more superior than those Johnny Foreigners and their greasy, sleazy, cheating, ungentlemanly, unsportsmanlike ways. Seriously…how much or how little the sweet FA and the EPL will learn from this pandemic is yet to be seen.

7: World Football will need FIFA, EUFA and national FA’s to focus on learning the needed lessons from this pandemic experience. Will they learn anything?   Yes. Will it be intelligently applied?   Maybe.   But if there is financial loss involved, the conclusions will be based on cash flow and not the protection of the fans, that is for certain.

Finally, to finish on a positive note, the world, in my humble opinion, is going through a dress rehearsal for the next really serious pandemic, which could be a Spanish flu-like virus, whose deadliness is measured in hours or days and whose mortality rate would be 10-12 times that of the coronavirus. Many countries, particularly the US, have failed miserably in responding to this less nefarious form of epidemic.

This is a golden opportunity for the UN and WHO, hand-in-hand with their member nations, to analyse the Coronavirus response and develop a coherent, rapid and effective pandemic worldwide strategy that would isolate such a deadly outbreak and cut it off before it reached the current proportions.

Will that happen?  Who knows, but each of us can DEMAND that planning and preparations for such a future disaster start happening right NOW. Football has had its dry run, it must now prepare a strategy for the real thing!

4 Replies to “This pandemic could be a blessing in disguise for football, if we seize the opportunity”

  1. Gary Neville is shit as far as knowing football. But, he is part owner of a team.

    To stop lower division teams from having spectators may doom teams (I suppose his team). That is the almost knowledge he presents.

    If a lower division team presents a game, and a player dies from catching COVID-19, the team might have some responsibility. And I think fans will have a HUGE negative interest in coming to further games.

    If a player dies from COVID-19, I think that team will find it very difficult to recruit new players. As obviously the ownership doesn’t care about the players.

    The death of a fan or player, is a HUGE problem to any team not in the EPL. (It is a problem in the EPL too.)

    That Gary Neville never clued into this is obvious; with respect to what crap he has presented us with over the years. In general, he doesn’t care. About anything.

    For better or worse, either of these Neville idiots don’t often bad mouth ManU.

    But Arsenal have no end of idiots like Merson, Wright, Nicholas, Keown, who do the the same damned thing.

    Perhaps the best thing, is to just quit listening to ex-players. If you are an Arsenal fan, it is even more important that you quit listening to ex-Arsenal players as they are just being paid to bad mouth the team. On top of whatever ex-players for other teams do.

  2. Nice one , Don. While we all hope that everyone will reflect in this time of grave danger and uncertanity , and work jointly for a fast and total eradication of it , yet I have to confess that I myself do not a quick resolution due to the amount of stupidity being exhibited .

    But I do hope that I am proved wrong , and humanity will reddem itself.

  3. ” 6: British Football, apparently being superior to their European counterparts, will have an occasion to review their sins, ..”

    That statement in itself , probably gave me the most laughs . This is what we on UA have been harping on for ten years , but have yet to see an iota of intelligence being shown.

  4. This is for mainly Gord and other like minded UA regulars . It is very subjective so bear with me.

    Let us say this season cannot procced on , but the EPL ‘final’ placings are needed for monetary considerations as well for next season’s European placings , and of course relegation.

    -With most clubs having played 29 games , and a few 28 games , I guess a common number of games is required . How do we come to this number ?

    -Should Arsenal and Wolves who are in joint 2nd place of fewer game losses(6) be ‘rewarded’? For the record , only Liverpool are better off with one loss so far.

    – Could a formula be created , where certain ‘bad’ periods of the games played so far be expunged ? Say only 75% of each game played be considered?

    – Could a formula be formulate for all those games not yet played , but points be alloted as protocol dictates ?

    Anyone wants to give their 2 cemts worth , seeing as most of are free and looking to sharpen our minds ? Granted its all abstract and arbitrary, but should whet the minds of those lateral and out of the box thinkers .

    As for me I think that the answer could be found in the Duckworth-Lewis-stern Method.
    That is once I truly understand it !

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