When the Covid19 first broke out we didn’t take it seriously. Until we did. We found our lives completely upended, locked up at home, terrified of our neighbours etc. One of the most unsettling things about the entire period was the unpredictability of everything. It stopped almost all of our routines. When the football finally came back on I was thrilled. Finally some semblance of normality was coming back. I could look forward to the weekends again, and then moan at the line-up and whatever other issue would crop up during the game. But the games were weird. Surreal. Empty stadiums with the ball echoing around, hearing players shout stuff at each other, [who knew how much swearing went on…]. But then I found that the football was still football and I noticed the players played with more freedom, possibly because there was no pressure from the thousands roaring from the stands. There was more creativity, a feeling like it was little more than a training session, and the football was more of a spectacle for that.
But the negative to that was when the going got tough, when the players would need a psychological lift from the fans, the so called 12th man, they didn’t have it. Games where we trailed by one goal just petered out limply; no sense of urgency, no edginess, or even boos to give the players the proverbial kick up the a**e.
I’m not saying this as a defence for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and his general handling of the team. There are enough criticisms and question marks about him regardless. We’ll save that for another week. However, many teams, especially the teams which have fans with expectations – had they felt the agitation, the desperation from the stands, it would have helped them push that bit harder. This is why we have seen so many surprise results with the other top clubs as well.
This season hasn’t been a true reflection of most clubs, except possibly City.
The quicker we can get back to normal the better.
By: David Byer @thedavidbyer
**image courtesy of Manchester United