Best posts of the week, as chosen by Chris Rowland and Daniel Rhodes:
Once again we’ve had plenty of informed and varied discussion on the subject that has changed the world – but we’ve had plenty of new football content on the site this past week too.
Here are some comments we’ve picked out:
1 – Red Mick appraising Boris Johnson following a Times article at the weekend:
I think that much of the government’s approach to this crisis has been conditioned by Johnson’s personality. For years he was consumed by the ambition to get to Number Ten. The EU? Well, he could go either way depending on which policy would give him the most party advantage.
Having achieved his ambition, he simply does not have the character to do the job. He loves being PM, the selfies, the glad handing, the obeisance of people when he’s out and about and generally promoting the Boris brand.
But the hard graft, the daily grind of policy making, reading documents, running meetings, reacting to events, and the interminable details of policy that must be mastered, that’s not for Johnson. Can’t someone else do it? He loves his country house weekends and his grand dinners. But as for being a man for a crisis, or an effective day to day leader I’m afraid he’s not up to it, as Major Attlee once wrote to a colleague he was firing.
2 – PeterD – a Sweden resident – correcting the widely held perception that Sweden has done nothing about coronavirus:
There are a number of articles that make it sound like Sweden has done nothing – which is just not true.
As someone who lives in Stockholm and has been working at home for 6 weeks now as has my wife and all of our colleagues – I can truly say that things are different here as well.
It is just not accurate to talk about “No Action”
The big difference is that schools are not closed, mainly so essential workers can work, but home schooling is an option. Schooling for children over 15 is now all done remotely. All of that sounds quite like the UK situation.
Restaurants are open, but there is only table service and the seating is spread out – and in most cases very few people are going.
There are virtually no flights leaving Arlanda (the Stockholm version of Heathrow) every day.
You are asked to not travel to another region and as a lot of people have a small cabin in the woods – that prevents people from using them.
At Easter all the ski resorts were closed.
Any gatherings of more than 50 people are banned.
The Ice Hockey was cancelled at the play off stage and the football season which should have started this month has been postponed.
Everything that is open has strict social distancing in place that people are respecting that.
Many shops are offering the option to order online and then they deliver to your car in the car park.
What Sweden is doing is asking and trusting the people without the need for a full lockdown and on the whole the people are doing as asked.
There are many balls to juggle with this whole situation, controlling the virus is the first focus, then there is financial and job security, mental health and the increase in suicides, the risk of an increase in domestic violence and sexual abuse and many more aspects.
The government are trying to keep a control on the big unknown while trying to limit the impact on the others. There has to be a society to come back to!
If ever there was a country that was built for this scenario it is Sweden. As Paul has said, it is big (2.5 times the size of the UK) with only 10 million people. Almost as a national trait, social distancing is in place automatically and there are the largest % of people living alone in the developed world. Then there are benefits like having an almost cashless society (as bank notes can help the spread) and a high number of tech industries, where it is possible to work from home.
I am amazed that there is lots of talk in the UK about passing the peak, as if we are soon done with this. This is going to be a long term situation but it will not be possible to have a lockdown for months, so how much and when to open up (and maybe when to impose a new lockdown) are huge questions.
From the outside, it felt like the UK first of all asked the people to do what Sweden is doing but it was not listened to (or not possible with the higher population and bigger cities) so then the lockdown was required – if the guidance was not being followed then there would be a lockdown here as well.
There is no rule book for this incredibly complex scenario and while with hindsight and history it may be possible to judge, every country has its own situation – but in Sweden it is not accurate to say we are being treated as some big herd experiment with no action.
3 – Mädchenkliop with a chilling thought about possible Government policy:
The Financial Times are reporting that the amount of deaths from Covid 19 in the UK is more than double what has been reported. 40,000 +. I think this is from the ‘excess death’ figure being discussed above. More than half the amount were deaths at care homes or at home.
That’s a lot. Seems surprising that it’s not on the MSM news. I guess it’s because the way the figure was arrived at isn’t hard evidence, but if hospitals are not being as overrun as expected and people are discreetly dying at home then that suggests the government may also be responsible for blanket policies where older people who could have been helped have been left to die deliberately. I find that quite a chilling thought.
4 -Bob with a suggestion for the government about our key workers’ pay:
For four weeks, and for the foreseeable future, we have seen that, when we came to the crunch, while this country was on life-support, it’s heart has been kept beating by people on minimum wages or hugely underpaid for the responsibilities they take on day in day out (for years before Covid-19 arrived).
Tonight we will be clapping key workers again. I’ve had two thoughts this morning that may help boost morale and give due recognition to those key workers.
1- The government could announce today that there will be a pay rise with effect from 1st April for all these people. They have shown they can make instant decisions about much larger sums of money. They have revealed that there is actually a magic money orchard. They have compiled a list of ‘key workers’. So what is stopping them?
2- We can name pop-up hospitals after a nurse from history. This is an historical moment. All hospitals should say that, where any of their staff has lost their life to Covid-19, they will have a ward named after them. Those who gave their lives should be remembered after this crisis, beyond this generation, and this live in the memory of those who are not yet born. So what is stopping them?
5 – Tattva with an update from Australia:
Further to Paul’s post on the Nightingale hospital #869, the Australian govt gave parents the option of sending their children to school or not. The Policy is based on essential workers gaining primary places and those parents at home are to teach their kids at home.
Four weeks ago when the govt placed lockdown restrictions hundreds of thousands became unemployed overnight and told to visit the Centrelink (benefits) website to process claims. It couldn’t handle the numbers and crashed. Parents were told to visit the education website on Monday morning to download work for their children. It also crashed through weight of numbers.
Creating policies, building temporary hospitals and closing some services are all great but have to work practically to get benefit. I understand it’s hard in these times to think of all eventualities but building the Nightingale and then not having the staff numbers seems a huge oversight. The same with the govt website bandwidth not enough to cater for those wondering where their next form of income is coming from. The school issue is slightly less important, but if you are working from home and expected to navigate your child’s learning it’s tough. My 6 year old thought she’d be in trouble for not doing her work. The teachers at my daughter’s school did a great job of seeking solutions.
Covid-19 numbers are still low in Australia, only 74 deaths so far, NSW with 33 of those. There have been no new cases in Northern Territory for 16 days. While the population is low, there is a high Indigenous population, and they are considered high risk. 4-4,500 people are being tested daily in major metropolitan areas and the two deaths overnight were elderly and suffered with underlying health issues too. We have postal deliveries on week days, these may now be reduced to three, depending on location. Panic and worry seems to have eased but everyone is still aiming to keep it this way and the govt is still introducing new protective measures, even with teething issues
There’s been no change on July as the first time restrictions will be looked at. Schools in four weeks time. I’m sure it’ll settle down and the kids will be alright.
Articles published since last Friday, with excerpts:
Monday April 20th:
The Match That Meant Most To Me – No.3, by Allen Baynes.
It was a true joy to jump on the 15D or the 92 bus, depending on which mates were going to the game. We laughed, took the mickey, just like we do now, only the Guinness was missing. I can’t remember the first game that season, but I went to all the home games and Man U away, we won 1-0 and we were in the Stretford End, why not, we were from Kirkby! Interestingly, there was no trouble. If I couldn’t remember the first game that season, I certainly remember the last, we won 5-0, against Arsenal and we won the League. There’s a Panorama documentary about that day which beautifully captures the joy, movement and sound of an Anfield full house wallowing in the glory that Bill Shankly had brought to us. Ee Ay Addio we’ve won the League! I’d done the initiation, now I’d got the badge, I was a Red, a League Championship winning Red, didn’t Shankly say we were the 12th man? We drove the team on and scared the shit out of the opposition. Badge, I should have got a medal as well 😊
Wednesday April 22nd:
Blowing Bubbles On Football’s Wall Street – Part One, by Tony Mckenna.
But a lateral approach may give rise to summations that more restricted minds cannot contemplate. It can begin with just one question: what kind of situations can possibly arise that may lead to a decrease of TV revenues in football? Such scenarios may stretch to infinity. But if you cannot think of any, then there was one potential trend that was emerging well before Covid-19 appeared on the global radar. What if people find other means of watching football? And without paying?
Sky TV had paid £3.759 billion to beam live football matches, from 2019 to 2022. No immediate sign of a bubble bursting there. Yet, a worrying phenomena was given due reference by Jim White, (Telegraph, 16.01.17). Young peoples’ viewing habits were hinting at a paradigm shift. Centennials (those born after 1997) were transitioning to online viewing, fast careening away from TV subscriptions in favour of streaming services.
White cited the following sobering statistics: audiences for Sky’s live Premier League matches had fallen 13 per cent on 2016, and by 25 per cent since 2010. The alarm may have been raised too quickly. Since then, in July, 2019, the Premier League proudly announced on its website that TV audiences around the world had risen 11 per cent to 1.35 billion. It must have helped that they had hit back at the illegal streamers. In that season, they had also been helped by a spell-binding close title run, beamed around the world, courtesy of City and Liverpool. But should complacency ensue, it would pay to be mindful about a trend, divorced from TV revenues, but one that is paradoxically inseparable from them.
Thursday April 23rd:
If Liverpool Had To Replace Their Whole Team, Whom Should They Buy? by Andrew Beasley
Before we begin, a word on the method for this article. Smarterscout works by comparing statistics from a competition in a particular season – and ranks them on a scale from 0 to 99 – so for Liverpool’s XI we will be using their Premier League statistics from 2019/20.
For the matched players, we’re looking for someone who played at least 1,500 minutes in one of the last two seasons, is no older than 27, and has played in a top five European league or either of the two continental competitions. It isn’t always possible, as you’ll see, but they are the benchmarks we’re aiming for. If you want to view the smarterscout profile of any of the players here, click on their name in the headings to be taken there (though you’ll have to register to see them).
I’ve also applied a degree of common sense with the suggestions; Ederson may well be a good match for Alisson, but he’s unlikely to move from Manchester to Merseyside. It makes sense to start between the sticks though.
Alisson Becker: Koen Casteels, Wolfsburg
Replacing perhaps the best goalkeeper in the world is no easy task. Here’s a man who – in 2018/19 at least – looked like he might be capable of it though. According to fbref.com, Alisson saved 4.0 more goals than was expected last season, while Casteels was at 3.6. The 27-year old Belgian has dipped on this front in 2019/20, whereas Liverpool’s #1 has actually improved despite playing far fewer games. Maybe replacing him would actually be an impossible task after all.