The football community is coming together to help people during the difficult times battling the COVID-19 coronavirus. Footballers are very privileged, earning huge sums of money for their talents and it is good to see so many players and clubs giving back to the community.
Crystal Palace’s mercurial winger Wilfried Zaha has a big portfolio of properties which he rents to business travellers but last week, he offered them to be given for a free period to hospital workers and relatives of people who are at risk from the virus.
Manchester City boss Pep Guardiola has given a staggering €1 millon to a medical fund in his native Catalan town in Spain. Former Manchester United player Gary Neville is co-owner of two hotels and he has offered free use of 176 rooms, and Chelsea chairman Roman Abramovich has offered 72 rooms in his Millennium Hotel at Stamford Bridge.
Former Wolves owner Steve Morgan is giving £1 million a week to help charities which have been affected by the virus. Liverpool stewards have volunteered to help towards controlling crowds of shoppers who are panic buying goods and club captain Jordan Henderson has offered, with other players, £50,000 to help stock foodbanks for people who desperately need to feed their families.
Sadio Mane has made a generous donation to help the poor in his home country of Senegal to cope with the coronavirus pandemic. He has made a video explaining that all people in Senegal should wash and disinfect their hands for 20 seconds. Mane doesn’t court publicity for his good works but he has given a lot to public food banks in Liverpool and also helped to build schools and hospitals in Senegal.
Everton have donated all the food which was meant for players and staff to be handed out to the needy and so have Brighton & Hove Albion, Newcastle and Sheffield United. Burnley run their own food bank and West Ham captain Mark Noble gave his weekly newspaper column fee to charity for more food banks.
Manchester United’s Nemanja Matic has been going to his local village shop in Serbia for the past few years and paying off the debts of local people who are short of money. Now he has donated more to help the less fortunate than himself. Tottenham’s Toby Alderweireld has donated money to buy hundreds of electronic tablets and phones for people who are at risk during the period when they cannot leave their homes.
All these stories are just the tip of the iceberg and there are many, many more and it makes me proud that football has not been found wanting in this time of need.
Pogba warming to United again
Thus far, 2020 has been a wretched time for Manchester United superstar Paul Pogba. Injury has meant he played no part in United’s progression under Ole Gunner Solskjaer and a public falling out between his agent Mino Raiola and United has done nothing to improve his relationship with the club.
Many of the staff inside Old Trafford expected him to move away in the summer although Pogba himself has kept very quiet on the matter. Real Madrid’s manager Zinedine Zidane is known to be a big admirer of Pogba.
This week, however, there seems to be a little more love in the relationship between the club and Raiola and Pogba is talking positively about helping in the resurgence of the Reds.
He currently has nearly two years left on his contract and earns £290k a week.
However, I have been told by one of my club contacts that United could push this up to £400k if a new contract is forthcoming. Once the season restarts – if indeed it ever does – he will be fit for duty and then we should find out where his heart really is.
Willian returns to Brazil
Several foreign players are upset because their clubs have told them they cannot return to their home countries during the current virus outbreak.
Chelsea’s Willian asked for permission to travel back to Brazil to be with his family and especially his wife and daughter.
The club decided he could return but have told him to be back by April 6th. He described the UK as being like a war zone saying, “In the markets, everything is running out, there’s no more food. It’s like a war!”
The problem is that if a player is back home in his native country, he might be prevented from returning by the government and if he does return then a mandatory isolation period would possibly be ordered.
Liverpool’s secret to success
Talking to Jordan Henderson, he was describing the training routine and fitness programme which manager Jurgen Klopp has installed at the club.
He said, “We do our fair share in the gym when it comes to weight training, but weight training is usually in the pre-season — to build up our strength — and then we move towards more plyometrics, which are jump training exercises in which muscles exert maximum force in short intervals of time, which increases power (speed-strength) and body weight training when the season is underway.
“The plyometrics and body weight helps with our agility and core strength, both of which are important when it comes to football. The coaches usually give us a good blend of training; setting out the drills and giving us all our programmes to follow when we are in the gym to help focus on what we have to do in our positions.
“On a daily basis we usually do two sessions a day. That first session focuses on our fitness and strength, then we get more into training and tactics.”
Klopp also appointed nutritionists and a performance manager, and Liverpool have a new head of fitness and conditioning.
All of this is designed to have Liverpool players at their peak fitness levels. Henderson also revealed that he uses protein supplements and mixes them into his smoothies and porridge to give him more energy and quick recovery from exhausting training sessions.
With Liverpool’s astonishing record this season it seems that Klopp’s approach is working wonders.