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A Manchester United fan’s COVID-19 outbreak diary: Day 19(?)

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Time is a meaningless concept

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BRITAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS Photo by OLI SCARFF/AFP via Getty Images

COVID Blog: Day 19(?). Again, I’m really not sure. I even tried going back to last week’s post and counting from there but couldn’t remember if I was counting weekends or not, or whether that day counted. Who really knows at this point.

Today is a good day. At least it’s started like one. Like I said last week, there are good days and bad days, and you just have to ride the ebbs and flows and hope tomorrow is better (hey I just used the word ‘and’ three times in a grammatically correct sentence!).

We hit a milestone yesterday: April 1st. That’s a big deal solely because it’s no longer March. I think that’s what made the last two days of March even harder. Waking up Monday and Tuesday with more news that these shutdowns are going to go on even longer. At least another month here. Sports will be shutdown until July at the earliest.

That’s the killer. We’re not even close to halfway through this. It’s gotten a little bit better. I’ve developed a bit of a routine, which I’m sure most people have, and I’m sure that’s helped in a small way. I’ve been able to update a lot of my data so I can look back at the season in different ways, but what happens when that runs out and there are still no new games. What happens when I get tired of watching old matches? Will I crash?

Wimbledon has been cancelled too now and the more I think about it the more I think it makes sense to just abandon the season and hopefully start 2020-2021 on time in August. That obviously leaves a whole financial mess to be figured out but that’s for people smarter than me.

How that affects the Champions League is simple. Just pause that for an entire year. Pick up with the quarterfinals (and round of 32 in the Europa League) of the 2019-20 campaign in February 2021. Obviously that’s not perfect but no idea is. The lack of midweek matches in the first half of the season will allow for midweek games to be played, ending the season a bit earlier to help prepare for the November 2022 World Cup.

It’s strange — football-wise this week has felt a little more “normal.” I think that’s for two reasons.

The first is we’re not missing any matches right now. This past week would have been an international break and only today would clubs be reconvening and gearing up for the run in.

The second reason is, oddly, there’s been plenty of “news” concerning Manchester United the past few days. I use that word extremely lightly. Obviously none of it is “news,” it’s all the same repeated crap day after day.

“United closing in on Jadon Sancho.”

“United look set on signing Grealish this summer.”

Then yesterday there was the rumor of Juventus offering up Matthijs de Ligt in a swap deal for Paul Pogba. That’s one of the funniest transfer rumors I’ve seen in quite some time. Even if Juventus could afford Pogba (they can’t), you would still need De Ligt to agree to move to United. Then you’d have to negotiate new contracts for both players who both happen to be represented by Mino Raiola. So, it wouldn’t be just one big bonus for Mino, it’d be two. Is there any question where this “rumor” is coming from?

Really. All this is going on and Mino is trying to pull that?

I don’t know if United are working overtime during this break to finish the Sancho deal, or if this is just Neil Ashton’s PR machine at work. What I do know is that United and Sancho’s representatives can’t even sit in the same room right now so nothing can be signed.

What’s very clear is that “Manchester United” and “Paul Pogba” are still phrases that garner a lot of clicks and thus newspapers will find any way of getting them into the headlines.

Book Recommendations

We still got time to fill so I’m still going to give out book recommendations. I finally finished The Fix - the one about how Qatar bought the 2022 World Cup - and have since plowed through How Football (Nearly) Came Home by Barney Ronay, a quick breeze about England’s trip the 2018 World Cup.

United Book: The Man Who Kept The Red Flag Flying

The official biography of Jimmy Murphy, Sir Matt Busby’s right hand man who answered the call when the Munich air disaster struck. It’s a great read on Murphy’s role in helping assemble The Busby Babes, as well as how he balanced his grief with the need to keep the red flag flying in those trying days. I know the club has named the academy building at the training complex after Murphy, but I still feel more should be done (a statue) to honor this man who was crucial to the club’s history.

Football Book: Red Card by Ken Bensinger

How the United States blew the whistle on FIFA. It’s extremely well written in a page turning narrative. Easily the best book I’ve read on the FIFA corruption scandals.