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Roker Ramble: Football’s lost its mind thanks to COVID-19!

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Neville should’ve paid more attention to Keira Knightly. Pochettino’s heading north? And Spanish clubs are due to be first back on the pitch... What’s the most mental piece of COVID-19 foot news you’ve seen?

SPAIN-HEALTH-VIRUS-FBL Photo by GABRIEL BOUYS/AFP via Getty Images

So, Little Neville is to leave his position as the England Woman’s manager. Managers get sacked all the time but it’s quite something to get the push when there aren’t actually any games being played... though I’m not surprised.

He took on a successful team built by his predecessor, and pretty much ruined it. And there are two main reasons for this - obvious to anyone who’s followed his progress. Firstly, he’s never seen ‘Bend It Like Beckham’. Secondly, he doesn’t drink enough.

If he’d seen ‘Bend It Like Beckham’ he would’ve known that having a man in charge of a woman’s team will never work out because the players just go and hide in the changing room when they don’t want to listen to what you’re saying. Although Little Neville never had Keira Knightly in the team so you could argue he should’ve done better.

In all seriousness, though, when you look at all the successful managers - Klopp and Pep for instance - they have a rapport with their players, a physical contact, a relationship that extends into the changing room – something that Little Neville couldn’t have had without crossing that line which although invisible is most certainly there. So he was pretty much on a hiding to nothing, but he also had a second problem that held him back.

2003 Sundance Film Festival - “Bend It Like Beckham” Film Stills
Is it me or does her arm bend the wrong way?
Photo by Sundance/WireImage

He’s too intense. He’s intense in interviews, he’s intense in training, he’s intense as a pundit, he’s intense on the touchline, he’s probably intense in tents - the guy needs to chill and maybe start relating to people a bit better. This is where the drink comes in – I’ll bet he’s never got smashed and complained to his wife that he can’t pee in the sink because it’s full of washing up. His brothers the same, everything is so damned serious, life’s too short bonny lad, have a glass of something and get a different perspective.

So, I think the next Lionesses manager has to be a woman, probably not Keira Knightly, but there are plenty of good candidates out there.

And what of Little Neville? Well, when the far right get confident enough to form their own secret police I can see him slotting right in there quite comfortably. Until then he’s probably picking out cardigans as we speak to resume his career on Match of the Day.

SOCCER: MAR 05 Women’s SheBelieves Cup - USA v England Photo by Robin Alam/Icon Sportswire via Getty Images

News broke this week that Jose Mourinho is self-isolating at the Spurs training ground in north London, rather than at his home in central London. Why would you do that, unless your wife can’t stand the sight of you? Which in his case isn’t out of the question.

But then news came that explained it: Mauricio Pochettino had emerged from his self-imposed exile and announced that he wanted his old job back:

From the day I left the club, my dream is to be back one day and to try to finish the work we didn’t finish.

Which probably has Jose quaking in his Spurs pyjamas, but he may not have to worry too much, because before Pokky can resume his quest, he may have the hurdle of the impenetrable north to overcome – apparently he’s in line for the Newcastle job under their new regime.

Tottenham Hotspur v Olympiacos FC: Group B - UEFA Champions League
Someone’s still got to explain why he’s got worms coming out of his bum.
Photo by Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

This begs two questions:

First, what’ll happen to Steve Bruce? Who cares? Ok, that was easy.

Second, how will he win over the legendary Geordie faithful? After all, he’s not started too well:

Of course I am looking forward to moving on and I am so motivated for the next project. But deep inside I want to go back because the fans are so special. I want to feel what it means to win one title with Tottenham because the fans are amazing, all the love we received was amazing and that is a good opportunity to pay back all the love they showed us from day one.

Well that’s really going to endear him to the Gallowgate end. But, there’s a further problem, because I don’t think he can speak English. Or he can speak English, but his pronunciation is so weird no-one can understand it. So maybe he does have something in common with Newcastle fans after all.

Either way, if he wants to communicate he needs to enunciate otherwise how will we understand the public floggings as entertainment at half time or the imposition of Sharia Law at the training ground. And whilst we’re on it, do you think Sharia Law is related to Dennis Law? Could be a niece maybe?

Sport Coronavirus - Saturday 14th March
The sacking of Steve Bruce led to a mass walkout.
Photo by Owen Humphreys/PA Images via Getty Images

Anyway, another week has gone by and we’re another week closer to the return of football. English authorities continue to skirt around the issues but have announced that when it returns, it’ll be behind closed doors and at neutral grounds that are outside of urban areas.

Personally, I’d go for New Zealand in that case, but the whole thing is an absolute nonsense. If this government had any conviction for the health of the individual they’d tell the FA to draw a line under this season for good and then sit tight until told otherwise.

But not in Spain. La Liga is set to return in mid-June and they’ve got all the social distancing measures in place. Players will be tested every day, they’ll start by training alone, arrive at the training ground to a fixed appointment in the same car, with the same kit, and will stay isolated in a ‘closed hotel space occupied only by the team’. Furthermore, they’ll be in individual rooms and will not be allowed home. There will also be no communal areas.

Additionally, there will be no more than two players will be allowed in the gym and no interaction with coaching staff will be allowed. Staff must wear gloves and face masks, as must players until on the pitch. Gradually, sessions will be conducted in three eight-player groups with no more than 20 staff on site. Those groups will be split across three dressing rooms, ensuring no more than three players are together. After sessions, they will return to their rooms.

And it goes on - all they’ve missed out are the personal injections of disinfectant, but it begs the question: really? Is it worth it, and why?

Surprise, but the answer’s money, apparently. If the season isn’t finished it’ll cost a billion euro’s. In which case I think either the government should just underwrite it or pay it off, because it’s small beer in the great scheme of things. Or as Frankie Boyle put it:

The austerity they’ll tell us they need to introduce to pay for this will make the last decade seem like Christmas at Elton John’s house.

And talking of austerity, Man Utd have announced that there’ll be no big money signings like Harry Kane this summer. Hardly surprising since they’re hemorrhaging money to their nine hundred staff with no income coming in, but they needn’t worry. By the time football is resumed, Harry might be doing laps of his garden to raise money for the NHS.

And when it does finally come back, I’ll bet Paul Pogba’s still injured.

FRANCE-GUINEA-FBL-FRA-GUI-CHARITY
Easing himself back in gently.
Photo by GUILLAUME SOUVANT/AFP via Getty Images