Well, here we go then. After the Bundesliga said it could be back in action on May 9, but waiting on government permission, Serie A has been given permission by the Italian government to return to training next Monday, May 4, with matches potentially as early as June 2.
This isn’t Serie A going off on its own maverick path, but part of Italy’s wider move to an eased lockdown, after a steady decline in coronavirus-related deaths. Training will initially be individual and still subject to social distancing rules, but team training will return on May 18, with games possibly starting up again as early as the end of the month. Here’s Italian Prime Minister Giuseppe Conte:
You have all shown strength, courage, sense of responsibility and community. Now the phase of living with the virus begins for everyone and we must be aware that during Phase Two, there is the risk we’ll see the curve climb in some areas of the country. It’ll be even more important to maintain social distancing, at least one metre … If we do not respect social distancing, the curve will climb again.
Given the Warm-Up’s near-total ignorance of epidemiology or crisis management, it’s not for us to say whether this plan is good or bad, right or wrong. We will say, however, that it’s at once extremely exciting and absolutely terrifying.
For the former, well, we were pretty sceptical of the “return of football will bring a sense of normality” theory … until somebody said they had a plan. Now, suddenly, we crave it. Even training: that promise of football to come. Give us just one agency picture of Aaron Ramsey wearing a fluorescent bib and laughing at a joke. He doesn’t even need to understand the joke. We’re not fussy.
Terrifying for all the obvious reasons. What gives football its power as a sign of normality — the intense attention, the affection, the desire to see it again — might just as easily come to stand as an emblem of grand institutional hubris. It’s all too easy to imagine somebody saying, years from now, “And then they brought football back.” Pause. “The fools.”
Bayern's 'cyber training session' in coronavirus lockdown
Pardew says “Nee, dank u”
Elsewhere in Europe, on Friday the Netherlands’ Eredivisie became the first top-flight European league to formally conclude the 2019/20 season. Which they did by saying: well, that’s your lot. Here we are, 25 games in, and here we will stay.
At the top of the table, this meant neither Ajax nor AZ Alkmaar, level on points with nine to play, would be declared champions. You can see the logic there. More controversially, nobody’s getting relegated to or promoted from the Eerste Division. Hard luck for Cambuur and De Graafschap, clear at the top. But once again, Alan Pardew has emerged as the protagonist of the universe: his tanking ADO Den Haag side have been saved from the drop, and all it took was a global pandemic.
Over the weekend, a story emerged that Pardew would be receiving a large financial bonus as just reward for his genius, a story almost perfectly balanced between amusing and infuriating. A story perfectly Pardew. But it won’t be happening.
If I was formally entitled to an amount, I would never want to receive it. In this difficult period, I would always return any bonus to the club, which will certainly find a good destination for it. I hope this clears up any misunderstandings caused by press reports.
It’s still not clear whether Pardew will return to Den Haag for next season, and he could well be a free agent by the time gets going again. But any clubs looking for a manager might want to be aware of a certain… timing issue. Give it a year, we reckon.
Moise, Moise, Moise
Well, time for another spin on the Footballer Violating Lockdown randomiser. This time it’s [spins wheel] Everton’s Moise Kean, who has been [spins wheel] pictured at a house party. His club are [spins wheel] “appalled” and have [spins wheel] “made it clear that such actions are completely unacceptable”.
Silly Moise. For what it’s worth, if we had to guess, we’d venture that footballers are violating the principles of lockdown and social distancing at roughly the same rate as everybody else, it’s just that when ordinary people do it, nobody cares enough to put them in the papers. It’s not like anybody’s out there writing a Warm-Up for life in general.
“Andrew from south London failed to observe a two metre distance in Sainsbury’s earlier today, after he doubled back on himself to pick up a pain au chocolat and nearly knocked over a surprised pensioner. His wife is ‘appalled’ and ‘wants to know why he managed to get chocolatey breakfast bread but forgot to pick up any cheese’.”
If only he’d checked the club’s Twitter account. The club is running a series of #StayAtHome recipe videos from their Head of Nutrition, and they’re calling them The People’s Grub. Honestly, with that kind of content coming from head office, there’s no excuse for Everton players.
IN OTHER NEWS
We know times are hard. We know things are weird. And we know this has nothing to do with football. But frankly we’re very upset that cricket can’t even fill the stands for a virtual tournament.
When looking forwards is uncertain, it’s often best to look intently backwards. Really soak in the view. Here, then, is Barney Ronay for the Guardian, considering whether England really were robbed by Argentina at Mexico ’86.
The Fifa archive film comes in vivid, slightly grainy square-screen. The pictures capture a world that was still pre-modern: cotton shirts, adverts for Camel cigarettes, skinny men in Union Jack shorts frazzling in the midday sun. The players’ heads flash up on screen and you remember how young and handsome Maradona was in those pre-meltdown days.
It’s Walter Pandiani’s birthday today, which is all the excuse you need to look back at that Champions League quarter-final from 2004. He opened the scoring in the first leg, but Deportivo de La Coruña got thumped 4-1. Then he scored first in the second leg, Super Depor won 4-0, and made Milan (back when Milan were Actually Good) look very silly indeed.
Here tomorrow to take your Tuesday blues away, the one and only Nick “Nick” Miller.