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Roker Ramble: “It’s what you know, you know...”

So, footy is back and things are certainly different, but has anything really changed?

Manchester City v Arsenal FC - Premier League
Knowing me, knowing you....
Photo by Laurence Griffiths/Getty Images

“As we know, there are known knowns. There are things we know we know.

We also know there are known unknowns. That is to say, we know there are some things we do not know.

But there are also unknown unknowns, the ones we don’t know we don’t know.”

- Donald Rumsfeld

In an age of uncertainty, knowledge is everything, knowing is a currency, the world can be divided into those who know and those who don’t.

David Luiz came on as a sub for Arsenal in their opener against Man City, gifted the first goal to Raheem Sterling, committed a foul which gave away a penalty for the second and was then sent off.

‘It was my fault’ he said afterwards. We know David, we know.

We also know that technology isn’t the panacea to footballing injustices we hoped it would be. Sheffield United were denied a clear goal when the Villa goalkeeper carried the ball into his own net, a fact missed by VAR, goal line technology, two linesmen and the referee - but picked up clearly by the TV cameras.

And this is the problem - the technology was brought in to stop things like this happening - TV cameras showing incidents missed by the referee that would’ve affected the game, and until this is eradicated then people are going to continue to complain. It’s not the fault of the tech, it’s how it’s applied by the people in charge, and it’s about time they started using some common sense and used it appropriately for the good of the game and for the benefit of everyone involved.

Aston Villa v Sheffield United - Premier League
Hands, knees and....
Photo by Paul Ellis/Pool via Getty Images

Another known known is that all games are being played behind closed doors, and I was interested to see what a difference it makes. The answer is - huge.

My first opportunity to see our new sterilised version of the game came on Saturday night in the live BBC match from the Vitality Stadium (or ‘Fatality’ Stadium as it’s sometimes unkindly referred to), and whilst Bournemouth against Palace was never going to be one to get the juices flowing, I’d been starved of footie for three months, surely this was going to be an occasion to savour at least?

Five minutes and thirty nine seconds I lasted - and that included a very good goal. It was partly the atmosphere, or lack of, I’m surprised how much interaction there is between the crowd and players in a normal game, and I really missed that. But it was also the fact that for the past three months I’ve been happily binge-watching box sets, and even the thought of a Bournemouth resurgence couldn’t compete with the next episode and an itchy finger on the remote control.

AFC Bournemouth v Crystal Palace - Premier League
It’s important to wear a mask in case you breathe on the goalposts.
Photo by Robin Jones - AFC Bournemouth/AFC Bournemouth via Getty Images

And it all seemed a bit of an anticlimax really, no unknown unknowns, just more of the same. United were inconsistent, Keane was incandescent, Jose moaned, Moyes lost as did Arsenal - again. And the overall feeling was a bit ‘meh’.

Maybe if Sunderland were still in the picture which is the normal centre-piece of my footballing weekend and frames my exposure to the wider game, then the context of what was happening at the top of the pyramid would’ve been more clearly defined. But as it was it was just a bunch of teams I don’t really care for, not playing particularly well in empty stadiums.

Perhaps I should just qualify that comment about not really caring. I do care about West Ham and David Moyes being relegated, and if anything was ever going to draw me towards faith and religion it would be the assurance that the power of prayer would make it happen.

West Ham United v Wolverhampton Wanderers - Premier League
I feel his pain :)
Photo by Ben Stansall/Pool via Getty Images

A known unknown is when spectators are going to be allowed back into the grounds and what sort of form that’s going to take. September seems to be the date that’s being bandied around, which is just around the corner really, so we’ve probably got a good idea what it’s going to look like.

There’ll probably be an appointment system for turning up at the ground with your expected time printed on the ticket. Queues at the turnstiles will be subjected to social distancing and the turnstiles will be deep cleaned after each person has passed through.

Obviously this means that you’ll spend a long time waiting but you won’t be bored as you’ll be noting down all the personal details of the people around you in case a government tracer gets in touch and asks who you’ve been in contact with recently.

Once in the ground you’ll have to go straight to your seat which will be separated from the next by plastic screens. No food or drink will be served in the ground but you can order online beforehand and collect from the car park at half time. Masks will have to be worn at all times, songs and chanting can be pre-recorded by Zoom meeting before the game and played on the public address system at prearranged intervals.

All toilets will remain closed but personal catheters will be available from the club shop in team colours. Brawling can be initiated at the game but only from a safe distance and then continued at a later date on a suitable gaming platform mutually agreed between all partners.

Crystal Palace v Watford FC - Premier League
Exchanging barbers details no doubt....
Photo by Jacques Feeney/MI News/NurPhoto via Getty Images

And pretty much every footballer had had a haircut during lockdown. Wow - didn’t see that one coming. A true unknown unknown.

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