March 2020 The month that coronavirus stopped the football season



As the government announced new measures to ensure the populace stayed at home, a joint letter from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and Casey Stoney wrote:

“We are all having to adjust – fans, players, coaches – to a new way of living, without our fix of football, although we all agree that everyone’s health and wellbeing at this time is much more important… We need to be united in looking after ourselves, our families and supporting our local communities.”

 

Harry Maguire, Marcus Rashford and Paul Pogba even released an instructional video, stressing the importance of thorough hand-washing as a basic but effective counter-attack to the threat of COVID-19’s spread.

 

A day later, the club confirmed the contingency arrangements for season-ticket holders, should the season’s remainder be played behind closed doors or even cancelled.

 

That was a painful moment of realisation for many, for whom attending Old Trafford every other week is their own secular version of going to a religious service. But even though football is a much-treasured source of life and vitality to many of us, concern about when we’d next see a matchday at Old Trafford again had been easily and quickly outweighed by concern for our families and friends – many of whom are, of course, United supporters just like us.

 

At first, the ‘lockdown’ itself was novel. Time opened up for different things, and brought us closer together to those that we live with. New technologies enabled us to see and talk to others we could no longer share physical space with. Blessedly, United have a glorious history we can delve into and relive any time that we need a quick fix to rejuvenate the senses. Players have stayed connected to the fans through our media platforms and social accounts. Training routines have been quickly adapted to their home lives during lockdown, keeping them fit and ready for whenever we’re all able to return to some semblance of normality.   

 

But always nagging away at the back of the mind are those thoughts of the future; the future that seemed so alive after that famous McTominay goal in the sleeting rain around 6.20pm on Sunday 8 March.

 

Friends from the match get in touch, but our relationships revolve around places and matches; around sharing moments together. Football only truly works when we’re all taking part, after all.



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