From private farmland to northern castles, the current news agenda is packed with the ins and outs of certain persons’ movements during the UK’s coronavirus lockdown.
But since the restrictions came into force some 10 weeks ago (is it just us or has that flown by quicker than you can say, “No, I don’t want to do another f*cking Zoom quiz”?), the football world has also been a key focal point.
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Which footballers have put their time to good use? What players have been caught flouting the rules? Are clubs doing their part? Who has been on 30 mile drives to test their eyesight?
OK, that last one isn’t entirely applicable, but you get our point.
It turns out many footballers and clubs have stepped up to the disinfected plate, whereas certain others have let the side down. So as the restrictions begin to ever so slightly ease in the UK, we’re rounding up football’s major lockdown winners and losers…
WINNER: Jordan Henderson
The Reds skipper has led Liverpool’s lockdown response, including the coordination of a £40,000 donation to the North Liverpool Foodbank on behalf of the entire first-team squad.
On top of that, Henderson also took time out of his busy daily schedule that consists of running, running and some more running, in order to give this Liverpool fan an emotional surprise over FaceTime:
We’re not crying, you are.
LOSER: Jack Grealish
The nationwide lockdown was barely a week old when Aston Villa’s captain “stupidly agreed” to go round a friend’s house. And he would’ve gotten away with it if it wasn’t for the meddling parked cars he allegedly crashed his Range Rover into the morning after.
It led to Grealish being issued with a hefty £150,000 fine and posting this grovelling apology on social media:
— Jack Grealish (@JackGrealish) March 30, 2020
To their credit, Villa donated the sizeable sum to the University Hospitals Charity in Birmingham, so at least some good came out of his moronic behaviour.
WINNER: Marcus Rashford
The Manchester United forward has been an exemplary example of how footballers can use their platform for good during the lockdown. Rashford’s involvement with the charity FareShare has helped them raise almost £20m in donations, allowing them to provide meals for approximately 2.8 million children per week.
As a result, the 22-year-old has recently been presented with a special recognition award from the High Sheriff of Greater Manchester. Which, as wonderful as that is, has left us wondering one thing: just what the f*ck is a High Sheriff anyway?!
Marcus Rashford has received a High Sheriff Special Recognition Award for providing 2.8 million children with food each week during the coronavirus pandemic. pic.twitter.com/qRa7aOhdrc
— FourFourTweet (@FourFourTweet) May 26, 2020
LOSER: Kyle Walker
Oh Kyle. Kyle, Kyle, Kyle… did you leave your brain at the training ground when lockdown kicked in?
Just days after posting a video imploring fans to stay in isolation, Walker failed to heed his own advice and hosted a “sex party” (as Alan Partridge might say) with two ladies of the lockdown night.
City came down hard on the naughty activities, climaxing with Walker being fined and forced to issue an apology. A month later, the soon-to-be-former England right-back was then papped breaking lockdown once again in order to visit family – presumably without prostitutes in tow.
WINNER: James Milner
Mr Reliable was never going to let anyone down, was he? Not least his missus, who tasked him with keeping on top of his much-loved exciting chores:
LOSER: Alexandre Lacazette
We’re not experts in reputation management by any means. But if you happen to be Alexandre Lacazette and you’re photographed ignoring social distancing regulations in order to chat with your personal valeter, we’d probably advise you to keep a low profile for the rest of lockdown.
For some reason a similar message wasn’t relayed to the French striker, and he was subsequently caught inhaling hippy crack balloons on a video he himself foolishly sent around. How deflating.
WINNER: Troy Deeney
Amongst all the Premier League’s talk of Project Restart, there has been constant murmurings of players feeling forced into returning to action before it was safe to do so. But it was the Watford captain who first stood up and made his voice heard.
Deeney has opted against returning to training, making it clear he values his family’s health and safety above any requirement to restart the season – which some believe is being done solely for financial reasons. Well played, Troy.
We could leave that headline there and it would make perfect sense, but we’ll expand on it anyway.
The north London outfit have suffered from a string of negative headlines throughout lockdown. Early on, manager Jose Mourinho was seen taking a training session with Tanguy Ndombele in a local park. Later on, definitely-not-from-the-same-household Davinson Sanchez and Ryan Sessegnon were spotted jogging together.
Then last week professional calamity Serge Aurier was issued with a fine after also breaching social distancing rules, this time in order to get a haircut from his personal barber.
Silly boy. Why didn’t he follow other footballers’ lead and simply let it grow out of control?
Bobby Firmino really came out of quarantine looking like young Ross Geller pic.twitter.com/zkleu6XU5G
— ً (@osclade) May 20, 2020
WINNER: Manchester United
Everyone is aware of the financial pain being felt throughout the football pyramid – even at the very top of the game – although the problems are being felt much more keenly in the lower leagues.
So fair play to the Red Devils, who have scrapped loan fees totalling £130,000 which are due from Bolton, Burton and Hearts to help them use the funds to keep their heads above water whilst they wait for football to return.
United really could have done with that to pay one third of Alexis Sanchez’s weekly wage…
LOSER: Gossip mongers
Coronavirus has completely decimated the transfer market as we know it. The mere thought of clubs spending £100m on shiny new players when they are barely able to pay the current squad is enough to have us cackling.
Despite this, transfer gossip mongers have continued to wheel out one insane rumour after another in an effort to keep selling papers and headlines being clicked on.
On the one hand, you have to feel a slight twinge of sympathy and even admiration for the effort. But on the other, exceedingly oversized genetically enhanced hand, they and their transfer poppycock can get stuffed.
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