Iwan Roberts: I’m afraid to say Shanks got it wrong...
PUBLISHED: 12:00 19 March 2020 | UPDATED: 12:14 19 March 2020
We all love football. We love playing football. We love watching and talking about it and we’ll all miss it like crazy for the foreseeable future,
However, I think we’re all in agreement that the footballing authorities made the right decision in postponing games until April 3.
I do think even the most optimistic of us will not expect any games to be played until the earliest mid-May, early June, if indeed it returns at all this season.
I’m old enough to remember the great Bill Shankly’s quote many, many years ago: “Some people think football is a matter of life and death. I don’t like that attitude. I can assure them it’s much more serious than that.”
Even if he did say it tongue in cheek, he was very wrong – nothing is more important than keeping people alive and healthy.
The question is, does this season need to be finished before a new one can begin?
We can’t listen to the likes of Karren Brady, who said the season should be null and void. She would! Her West Ham side are bang in trouble in a right relegation fight and staring the Championship in the face!
We need to listen to the advice of the experts, leave it in their hands and act accordingly. It’s that simple for me. If they say come May, June that the season can be finished then I think we have to try and finish this season and then look at when we start the 2020-21 season – with the postponement of the European Championships there could be scope to do this now.
So what do the Norwich players do now? In my opinion I think they’ll have a few days off and then be back at Colney training as normal, unless, obviously, some have the symptoms of this dreaded virus and they all have to self isolate for seven to 14 days.
Even if they can’t train as a group they can as individuals and keep their fitness levels up. I’m sure they will have been given fitness programs for this unexpected period of no games by the club’s fitness coaches, sports scientists and medical staff to keep themselves ticking over. At this stage of the season, having played 75pc of it, that’s all they need, ticking over.
The players will be at their physical peak right now, so even if they were training normally as a group there wouldn’t be any great intensity in their sessions. The lads’ legs need to rest more than anything with nine league games left.
Of course, their match fitness levels will only last so long, so if and when the season starts again – and let’s be honest, it’s a big if – they will need a mini pre-season before they start playing again.
I look back at my career and I think I was okay to play having had two or three weeks of low intensity training with no games, but anything beyond three weeks then I’d need some decent lung-bursting sessions to get myself where I needed to be to be ready to play again.
If you look at the summer break the players get nowadays, they get between six and eight weeks off, but then come back for pre-season, which is six weeks of gruelling work, with friendly games thrown in. That’s why now time is of the essence and common sense must prevail if we are to be able to finish this season within a certain time scale and if it’s not meant to be then we move on, draw a line through this season and hopefully go again in August.
I hope you all stay healthy, and work together by listening to those people in the know and listening to their advice and eventually we will come through this very tough period of uncertainty.