Free Friday: The Best Covid-19 Comments, Top 100 Albums & Our Thoughts On Hillsborough

Free Friday: The Best Covid-19 Comments, Top 100 Albums & Our Thoughts On Hillsborough
April 17, 2020 Daniel Rhodes
In Free, Free Friday


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 – El Indio on the possibility of anti-malarial drugs being used in the battle against Covid-19:

India is the largest producer of Hydroxychloroquine and has a 70% market share because malaria is a big threat.

The issue is two fold in fighting malaria – improper infrastructure, and our wet/humid climate during seasonal monsoon that lasts over 3-4 weeks.

I had a bout of malaria when I was 12 and it left me pretty weak. I lost a lot of strength and as an athlete it left me bereft of pace. I still have nightmares from that time which includes triggers of fan noise or noise from water dropping.

I’m not a medical expert but a country like India being overtly gracious in releasing large quantities of a chemical that will be used to fight a novel Coronavirus is a business move, and has nothing to do with charity.

The Indian pharmaceutical has been on the receiving end from the Prime Minister to subsidize the costs of drugs as companies sometimes bribe doctors through medical representatives to prescribe their expensive tablets.

Alternatively there has been a massive push by government to setup medical shops with regulated medicines from supervised pharmaceutical manufacturers.

Indian pharma might not be at the forefront of R&D in the world but in terms of manufacturing drugs they are trying to be world class.

And in India many feel that exporting the quantity in bulk would be a good move to generate revenue when the whole economy is in lock-down till 3-May (We just had a morning address from the Prime Minister extending the lock down).

It is just plain stupid that money is being poured into something unproven, and dangerous.

2 – Acsgp on the issue of wearing masks:

Very good, technical and informative read on the effectiveness of masks, and in particular the N95

“Droplets generated from coughing, or sneezing and talking will quickly dry in the air to form droplet nuclei. Droplet nuclei generated from coughs, sneezes, and speaking have been found to range from submicron to over 20 microns.16, 17 Influenza viruses, and other viruses, have been collected from exhaled breath.18 It is thought that droplet nuclei that contain Mycobacterium tuberculosis may range from less than 1 μm to greater than 5 microns.19, 20 Airborne particles containing influenza viruses have been sampled from the air of hospital rooms containing influenza patients and found to be in the size range from less than 1 μm to greater than 4 μm.4 Understanding filtration mechanisms can help answer whether or not these particles can be filtered by particulate respirators.“

Coronaviridae (SARS – CoV & MERS – CoV) : 0.125

3 –  Paul McCormack in reply:

Excellent paper acsp.

3M are world leaders in mask technology (I have employed them also to perform fit testing and train workers).

One thing they don’t discuss is sedimentation. Small particles don’t sediment as quickly as large parties and remain in the air longer. Up to a few hours for particles in the respirable range. However, when there is a particle size distribution, small particles are attracted to large particles (or droplets) by Van der Waals forces, stick to or merge with them and are sedimented quite quickly as well. As coughing and sneezing produces a particle size distribution of droplets (some quite large droplets, as shown in this paper), the reality is that most droplets will sediment quite quickly. So unless you take a cough or sneeze directly into your breathing zone, this infection route is also quite limited. Hence the 1.5-2.0 metre recommended social distance rule.

4 – More on masks, and xG (expected germs!) from Paul Tomkins:

There aren’t enough available for the medical experts as it is. The majority of those held by the public aren’t cleaned or of sufficient quality. Those public worn masks are commonly worn ineffectively and become home to the virus while carried around.

These points are all purely to do with the misuse of masks. That’s a different argument entirely. My argument is that if you wear a mask, clean the mask, clean your hands, etc – i.e. do exactly the same things you would do without a mask (obeying social distancing rules, and so on) – then you will be safer. It stands to reason.

Point 1 – that’s got nothing to do with whether the public wearing masks is effective for the public wearing masks. The medical experts should be given enough masks.

Point 2 – how do you know? I have a fairly expensive allergy mask, and I clean it. If people don’t clean their masks then how do we trust that they’re cleaning their hands or face anyway?

Point 3 – again, that’s pure supposition. If you clean the mask then you don’t carry the virus around. If you get infected, you definitely carry the virus around. (As I said the other day, you can clean a mask but you can’t clean your lungs.)

You can then spread it further and faster by coughing without a mask than you could if you had a mask. A cough projects pathogens. A mask contains them. So it would need someone else to be in contact with the mask, whereas a cough effectively ejects the germs into the air for a number of seconds, and sends them 1-2 metres away. I don’t think the germs jump off a mask in quite the same manner. There needs to be some kind of logical scale of protection. See my analogy about bulletproof vests the other day. Protect yourself partially and you are safer than if you don’t protect yourself at all.

Condoms are not 100% effective, but we don’t tell people not to use condoms as you can still get pregnant. If condoms are 99% effective and a half-decent mask is 20% effective, then 20% is better than nothing; and if decent masks are 70% effective, then that’s better than 0%. N95 masks are said to catch 95% of particles. Whether or not that applies to Covid-19 I don’t know, but they will surely catch some of the virus. And any of the virus particles that are kept at bay are virus particles that are not going to increase your dose. Obviously surgical masks have gaps at the side, so are not even 95% safe. But they would still be better than nothing (but the medical community should be the only ones who have these, unless there is an excess). My problem with all this is the “you can still catch it” argument, which is binary. Yes, you can still catch it. But viral dose is a key factor. If you can trap a good percentage of the pathogens on your mask, remove your mask and wash your hands and wash the mask, you will be better off than letting those pathogens enter your respiratory tract. If you treat your mask with no care, attention or sanitation, then of course it will be of less use. But even then, if there are live virus pathogens on the mask, will they multiply there? If they are in your lungs then they probably will, and they’ll live longer in the climate they evolved to exist in, rather than outside of it. Although the lower the dose, the better your chance of fighting it off. If medical experts aren’t wearing them correctly then they will be protecting themselves (at a guess to make a point) 50% less than if they wore them correctly. That would be good if they only encountered the virus once. It would halve their odds of getting a bad dose, based on the logic of someone coughing in their face. But if they go from infected patient to infected patient, day after day, they will obviously experience a heavy viral load. The mask would be like using a condom for the 37th time. Ditto people who don’t clean or misuse their masks – it would also be like using a condom for the 37th time. But that may still be better than no condom at all, as long as you don’t expect to have 100% success in staving off pregnancy. Pregnancy is binary – you are either pregnant or you are not.

Unlike Covid-19, there are not degrees of pregnancy (just stages!). But – working from logic (as I’m not a reproduction specialist! 😉 ) – if you reduce the number of sperm trying to fertilise the egg, then it will reduce the chance of pregnancy. It still only needs one sperm to fertilise the egg, but unless it is being put into the egg, a trillion sperm would be more likely to result in pregnancy than a hundred sperm. (But I did miss some biology classes in school 😉 ) Again, all I am doing is applying logic. Behavioural studies may suggest people then act illogically when wearing a mask, but that’s a separate issue to whether or not a mask will offer you any type of protection, or zero protection, if used and maintained properly. People who have and use masks would simply need to be educated in how to wear them properly to improve their chances of avoiding a) Covid-19 or b) a larger viral dose of Covid-19. Same with condoms – it’s no use as a form of contraception if you put on on your ear 😛 It’s a percentages game. As such, I can it xG – expected germs 😉

5 – Gary with his top 100 albums, that sparked mass debate and list-making on the music & arts thread. Wonderful stuff with fantastic playlists available:

Talking of music I was bored a while back and made a top 100 list of my favourite albums, ones that whenever they go on I know I am going to love it all. So here it is if anyone is interested.

Simon & Garfunkel – Sound of Silence (65)

Ennio Morricone – The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly OST (68)

Simon & Garfunkel – Bridge Over Troubled Water (70)

Bee Gees – Trafalgar (71)

Van Morrison – It’s Too Late To Stop Now (74)

Jean Michel Jarre – Oxygene (76)

Jean Michel Jarre – Equinoxe (77)

Fleetwood Mac – Rumours (77)

Kraftwerk – Trans Europe Express (77)

Tangerine Dream – Encore (77)

Phil Spector – Echoes of the 60’s (77) (compilation of 60s material)

Van Morrison – Wavelength (78)

Van Morrison – Into The Music (79)

Queen – Live Killers (79)

Pink Floyd – The Wall (79)

Tangerine Dream – Force Majeure (79)

Roxy Music – Flesh & Blood (80)

Queen – Greatest Hits (80)

Queen – Flash Gordon OST (80)

Tangerine Dream – Thief OST (81)

Various (Wagner, Orff) – Excalibur OST (81)

Jean Michel Jarre – Magnetic Fields (81)

Phillip Glass – Glassworks (82)

Pink Floyd – The Final Cut (83)

Brian Eno – Apollo (83)

Giorgio Moroder – Metropolis OST (83)

Tangerine Dream (and various) – Risky Business OST (83)

Shriekback – Jam Science (84)

Frankie Goes To Hollywood – Welcome To The Pleasuredome (84)

Propaganda – A Secret Wish (85)

Goblin (and various) – Phenomena OST (85)

Wang Chung – To Live and Die in LA OST (85)

Marillion – Misplaced Childhood (85)

Art of Noise – Invisible Silence (86)

Tangerine Dream – Pergamon (86)

Pet Shop Boys – Disco (86)

Pink Floyd – A Momentary Lapse of Reason (87)

Yello – One Second (87)

Bruce Springsteen – Tunnel of Love (87)

Nitzer Ebb – That Total Age (87)

Vangelis – Direct (88)

Various – House Hallucinates (88) (acid house tracks)

Public Enemy – It Takes A Nation of Millions To Hold Us Back (88)

Yello – Flag (88)

Pet Shop Boys – Introspective (88)

Nine Inch Nails – Pretty Hate Machine (89)

Phillip Glass – Solo Piano (89)

Depeche Mode – Violator (90)

Van Morrison – Enlightenment (90)

Cocteau Twins – Heaven or Las Vegas (90)

Mike Oldfield – Amarok (90)

The Orb – Adventures Beyond The Ultraworld (91)

Fluke – The Techno Rose of Blighty (91)

Front 242 – Tyranny For You (91)

Young Gods – TV Sky (91)

James – Seven (92)

Gorecki – Symphony No.3 (Dawn Upshaw recording) (92)

Frontline Assembly – Tactical neural Implant (92)

Trevor Jones – Last of the Mohicans OST (92)

Mike Oldfield – Tubular Bells 2 (92)

Roger Waters – Amused To Death (92)

Cocteau Twins – Four Calendar Cafe (93)

Utah Saints – Utah Saints (93)

One Dove – Morning Dove White (93)

Jam & Spoon – Tripomatic Fairytales 2001 (93)

Van Morrison – A Night in San Francisco (94)

Various – Natural Born Killers OST (94)

Nine Inch Nails – The Downward Spiral (94)

Underworld – Dubnobasswithmyheadman (94)

Michael Nyman – Piano Concerto / TGV (94)

Dead Can Dance – Toward The Within (94)

It’s Jo & Danny – Lank Haired Girl to bearded Boy (94)

Cosmic Baby – Thinking ABout Myself (94)

Moby – Everything is Wrong (95)

Oasis – (What’s The Story) Morning Glory (95)

Moby – Animal Rights (96)

Craig Armstrong – The Space Between Us (97)

Afghan Whigs – 1965 (98)

David Gray – White Ladder (98)

Michael Nyman – Wonderland OST (99)

Sigur Ros – Ágætis Byrjun (99)

Archive – You All Look The Same To Me (01)

Sigur Ros – () (02)

Longview – Mercury (03)

Explosions in the Sky – The Earth is not a Cold Dead Place (03)

M83 – Dead Cities, red Seas, and Lost Ghosts (03)

M83 – Before The Dawn Heals Us (04)

Sigur Ros – Takk (05)

Burial – Untrue (07)

Bon Iver – For Emma, Forever Ago (08)

The Field – Yesterday & Today (09)

Bon Iver – Bon Iver (11)

Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe (13)

Nils Frahm – Spaces (13)

Haim – Days Are Gone (13)

Taylor Swift – 1989 (14)

The War on Drugs – Lost in the Dreams (14)

Future Islands – Singles (15)

Ryan Adams – 1989 (15)

Public Service Broadcasting – The Race for Space (15)

6 – Peter tells us about his experience at Hillsborough:

The saddest and most surreal day of my life (and obviously for thousands of others).

I had a good friend at college who was a Nottingham Forest fanatic – and I managed to get a ticket from him but at the Forest end.

We arrived and parked up close to the Forest end and I can remember it being so easy to get in – we got there early, but there were no queues or waiting at all and big wide open streets. I had no idea that the other end of the ground was so different.

We were in the ground early and the atmosphere was building on a beautiful sunny day, I will always remember that not long before kick off I said…

I really wish I was down that end, the atmosphere looks amazing

As I pointed at the area that was looking very crowded – even from the other end of the ground something looked noticeably different.

Then the game started and it was an amazing start, with Peter Beardsley smashing a shot against the bar – then everything changed.

I can just remember the lack of communication and everybody gathering around anybody with a radio to try and find out what was going on.

One idiot ran down to the Forest end and tried to provoke the crowd and the police response was to spread out across the half way line with their police dogs to control the riot that was taking place (as they saw it!).

The image of the supporters carrying fellow fans on advertising boards through a line of police statues will live with me forever.

We were locked in for a couple of hours, so we didn’t clog the streets for the emergency services – and all we could do was stand and watch the horror happening in front of us and offer our vocal support to all the fans who were doing anything they could to help. After some time, one of our friends who was down in the corner of the Forest terrace came over and said that he had seen a blanket put over somebody – and that was the first time it hit how serious this was.

After we were allowed out of the ground, we travelled back to Manchester in stunned silence (where we had stayed at a friends university digs) and tried to follow the news. I then got on a coach to London with reports that 5 people had died.

When I got off the coach at Victoria the Sunday papers were already on sale and I can remember walking past a newsstand and being amazed that they were already covering the story so quickly – then I paused and stood in shock as I had understood that the headline said that 90 people had died.

I had to walk back and ask the newspaper seller to tell me that I was not seeing things – I remember then standing in shock for a number of minutes.

5 people losing their life at a football match was awful and how could that ever happen, but 90+ was just unbelievable and that moment of realisation and feeling sick will stay with me forever.

As Chris has said, there were no mobile phones back then – so it was only when I got back to my student house that I realised my family had watched it all unfold on TV and had phoned my house.

They didn’t know if I was there or not, but they did know that I went to every game that I could – so after finding out that I was there (they had no idea where in the ground I was) they had to wait until I got back and was able to give them a call.

That was a scenario that must have been repeated by thousands of people that day – waiting desperately for that call to come.

It is hard to believe it was 31 years ago – certain memories of it make it seem like yesterday – and at least the cover up has now been exposed, even if the true justice has not happened.

I will never understand how it was possible that I could see something looked different at 14:50 from the other end of the crowd, but it was not possible that Duckenfield with his position directly over the Leppings Lane end and with cameras to see and react to the situation.

Will, as always, take the 1 min to remember and reflect today.

It still does not feel possible that this happened on a sunny day when we all we did was to go and watch a game of football.


Articles published since last Friday, with excerpts:

Monday April 13th:

When Steven Gerrard Fell Through The Spacetime Continuum and the World Went Bizarroby Paul Tomkins.

Months before this summer of transfer inactivity, Liverpool found themselves 3-0 down in the semi-final against Barcelona after the first leg, and then were without two key goalscorers in the aim to turn it around at Anfield.


By the summer of 2019, Jordan Henderson will have lifted a Champions League trophy, and be regarded as one of the great on-pitch leaders in world football, and generally become known as the best bloke in the world. Divock Origi will become DIVOCK ORIGI!, in all caps, with added exclamation mark and italics. DIVOCK ORIGI! Philippe Coutinho and Luis Suarez will join Lionel Messi in leaving Anfield in tears, whilst DIVOCK ORIGI! is sung by the Kop.

Next, Liverpool are crowned champions of the world, and rise to be ranked as the 4th-best team in European football history by the Elo Ratings system.

And then…

Liverpool are having the best season in the history of European football, when someone in Wuhan fucks a bat* (*may not be literally true), and, as the Reds get to within touching distance of the title, the entire world will more-or-less literally grind to a halt. Football will be cancelled. Work will be abandoned. Travel will be prohibited.

Tuesday April 14th:

The Match That Meant Most To Me – No. 2by Taskin Ismet.

Knowing of Rush’s pending departure at the end of the season and, to be honest, because back in December we just assumed we’d probably be watching us win the title in May, we opted to ignore our initial thoughts of “let’s go next week” and instead chose to wait for the last home game of the season, versus Watford. I can’t remember it being a problem at all. Those were very different days when it came to getting hold of match tickets. Bar games against the likes of Everton or Manchester United, tickets were quite easily available. Our problem back then was more around us being so far away and, as yet, being too young to be allowed to go alone.

Watford it was then. But we had already agreed that there was no way on earth that we were going to Anfield to sit in the bloody Main Stand. Not a chance.

Wednesday April 15th:

*** The date we will never forget. Hillsborough. Our thoughts are with all the families and friends of the bereaved, including Dave Rowland, who survived Hillsborough but not Covid-19. Rest easy, Dave.***

From Gains to Jumps: How Liverpool Became a Continental Superpowerby Abhimanyu Vinay Rajput (TTT Subscriber El Indio).

Football is a sport which requires running. Running means, you need your body in the best physical shape and not only for undergarment adverts.

And we have seen how seemingly good careers descent into string of shocking performances.

Yet of all the simplistic correlation between performance decline with age, Milner has been winning the annual pre-season running tests. Two years in a row.

In 2015 while plying his trade with Manchester City, Milner broke the distance covered record for the season at 13.56 kilometers. He scored, assisted a goal, and ran all over Stoke City.

Thursday April 16th: 

Liverpool FC’s Expected Goals On Target, and Their Top Finisher by Andrew Beasley

Expected goals, as a concept, is not to everybody’s taste, and nor will it ever be. But whether you believe it has any value or if you think it’s a crock, there’s no escaping that it is widely used in football analysis these days. Once it started appearing on Match Of The Day and Monday Night Football, xG was here to stay.

While it gives a greater insight than the shot stats, or something as absurd as the match scoreline, expected goals can certainly be improved upon. One side of this which is starting to creep in more often is the idea of post-shot expected goals (or ‘xG2’). As well as including the factors which feature in regular expected goal models, xG2 takes account of where within the goal frame the shot ends up.

This in itself isn’t a new idea. I wrote a piece for this site eight years ago which looked at shot placement, though clearly the breakdown of areas in the goal will have improved from the six available back then.

And it can certainly add a lot to analysis, as we shall see. This article on the Football Critic website explains it well, and as their example features Mohamed Salah, let’s reproduce it here.

Here’s Mohamed Salah against Chelsea from 2018/19. From the position of this shot and the angle towards goal, plus the player closing, the xG for this chance would be around 0.02, meaning one in every 50 shots from this position, you could expect to go in.