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A Manchester United fan’s COVID-19 outbreak diary: Week 7

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No point counting in days anymore

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UK In Fourth Week Of Coronavirus Lockdown As Death Toll Exceeds 10,000 Photo by Clive Brunskill/Getty Images

COVID Blog: week 7. It’s been a hot minute since I wrote one of these, probably for two reasons. Well, I guess it’s really one reason since they’re pretty much connected.

I’ve had some projects keeping me busy as of late, which hasn’t given me time to write these but also hasn’t given me the spark to write these. When you’re busy the days fly by and things are pretty good. When things are pretty good, that fear and anxiety about what is going on seems to subside.

I’ve some more free time the past few days and suddenly that thinking and introspection is back.

Last time I wrote about how finding a routine will help you. The more you normalize things, the easier it becomes. What I did not realize is that this can easily be a pendulum and it is now swinging the other way.

For me, it was projects. For others, it’s their daily jobs which haven’t stopped, even if they’re now from home. They help you get out of bed and have a semblance of a regular day.

Until now that is. Because now it feels like this is becoming too normal. It’s been seven weeks of this. Almost two months. For someone like me, who already worked from home on most days, it’s hard to remember what things were like beforehand.

And there’s the uncertainty. When is this going to change? Football might be coming back soon. Germany wants to get it started in as little as two weeks. England is telling their players to be prepared to only have 48 hours notice of a return.

As I’ve always said, I want football back as much as anyone but I’m really not sure how I feel about this. The rush to play again “for the benefit of the public seems like the most obvious political move ever. It’s a trick that goes back all the way to ancient Rome. Distract the public with games so they forget to be angry with their leaders for doing such an atrocious job.

I love games. I’d love to be distracted by them, but I’m not sure how comfortable I am with the idea of trading lives. Suddenly we’re declaring athletes as “essential” workers and putting them at risk. If they had all been locked up together that’s one thing, but they haven’t. The thing is, every country is handling this differently and a lot of athletes have gone back to their home countries.

Just look at Sergio Romero, who went back to Argentina.

Great, he isolated and didn’t bring the Coronavirus back with him. But now we just know he doesn’t have it. He can still get it. What if he does? What if he brings it back with him?

Forty-eight hours notice doesn’t seem to work with players who have left the country. If they return do they need to isolate again? Are United just not supposed to have a backup goalkeeper because he’s in quarantine?

I know the plan is to hole these players up and not let them see anything in the outside world but let’s be honest, flaws in the system will occur. And what if someone contracts the virus then? What happens if there’s another outbreak within a team? Does that team just stop playing games?

What if it’s just one player? What if Bruno Fernandes contracts the virus right when we’re supposed to start playing games again? Does he just go into isolation and United have to play on without him? That doesn’t seem right.

I want to watch the Reds play again, and soon, but I also want to do that in the pub with all the lads. I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels this way. If we come back without that it’s not going to feel the same.

I’ve said it before, my job is very closely tied to the hospitality industry. I want restaurants and bars to be open, because I know bar and restaurant owners. Their lives depend on this. I’m happy they can still provide deliveries, but the result of that just puts the delivery men, who don’t have a choice and need to work, at risk. They’re the ones who are ending up the in the hospitals with this virus.

I know footballers are millionaires and it’s hard to have sympathy for 24-year-olds who are making more money than most of us ever will, but rushing to come back and play games too soon puts them in the same situation. They’re not doing it for themselves. They’d merely be pawns in the game, whether it’s the politicians trying to provide a distraction for the public, or their billionaire owners who are certainly going to be making more money off of this.

(Sure they don’t have to come to work, but not coming to work will let their teammates down and that’s not how they’re wired. Plus, their wages can then be withheld and again, these guys have a limited time window within which they can earn money for their lives.)

This is a time of great uncertainty and many countries’ leaders are failing to lead. That just leads to more uncertainty and anxiety

I’ve been watching the new season of Westworld - NO SPOILERS HERE - and I’ve gotta say, the timing of this season couldn’t be worse. My personal belief is that this season has been pretty bad, it’s gotten far away from what made it great in the beginning and it’s now a completely different show.

Whatever, that’s neither here nor there. A few episodes ago something caught my eye. Throughout the 60 minute episode I saw many, far too many, people walking around with surgical masks on their faces as they went about their every day lives. That’s exactly what you see everywhere now, but this show was filmed months ago! Some of the show takes place in Shanghai where this is far more normal, but we also had scenes taking place in San Francisco sometime in the 2050s and those masks were present.

I pointed it out to a friend who ventured out to Reddit to see if anyone was talking about it. Here’s what she said.

“Everyone assumed in the future with overpopulation and evolving bacterial infections that we would need masks in the future similar to how Asian cultures already adopted it, and this season is set in Singapore. The western world is only now catching up.”

I don’t think this is quite a surprise. I think we’ve all realized that one day something will happen that changes how we live our lives. What is scary is to think: this is it. This is the event — we’re now living through the thing that changes our lives forever.

Will things ever return to normal, or will I one day be telling my kids, “You don’t understand, we used to just regularly pack 80,000 people into stadiums. There wasn’t any fear of anything, you did it, you went home, and you did it again the next week. The atmosphere was incredible, it made watching sports incredible.

We can get back to that, but we have to be smart. This morning I woke up and saw Marcus Rashford had fired off a simple “Everyone having a good start to their week?” tweet. Here was my response.

It was supposed to be a joke until I realized, it’s not. It’s a small victory. The first small victory of the day. That’s what we need now, small victories throughout the day to keep us sane.

It’s been almost two months. Things are becoming normal, which is scary in and of itself. The other scary side is, we don’t know how much longer we’ll have to keep doing this. That’s a really hard thought to grapple with.

We can get back to normal. We can, but it takes time. We have to be patient and I know that’s really hard to do because again, it’s been two months. Even the people who really believe in quarantine are going stir crazy. But better to be patient and get out of this, than come out too early and make it worse.

Sir Alex Ferguson was the master of selling a player a year too early rather than a year too late. For us, we’d rather come out of this a week too late than a week too soon.

Book Recommendations

I’ve switched it up in my life taking a much needed break from football and going back to World War II with Erik Larson’s new book The Splendid and the Vile. For your football rec I give you:

The Bundesliga Blueprint by Lee Price

Similar to Das Rebook, but the other one. It focuses on how Germany rebuilt their football system, with the DFB and the Bundesliga working together to get to where they are now. It talks about their advantages over the English system, what England is trying to learn from them, and what England can learn from them. It’s a quick enjoyable read.

Until next time.