Football without fans is not nothing but something and something we will have to get used to. Plus, Wayne Rooney loves Louis van Gaal, Jamie Carragher went full troll and Roberto Baggio has a better touch than you.
Football is back. Is it safe to be back? Well, only time will tell. Hopefully its current behind-closed-doors guise provides the requisite levels of safety for all involved. Hopefully remains the operative word as there are very few certainties at this point in time.
It is not safe enough for fans to attend though - that is certain. And that has only served as a reminder to their importance to the whole operation.
It was superb to have football back. Absolutely superb. It was also - to coin a phrase from the marketing handbook - a thoroughly inferior product without fans. That's fine, though, as we are in truly unprecedented times. Football is not nothing without fans, it is still something, something inferior but something.
However, it is important - and obvious - to state that fans are not only integral to the feel of football but also have a bearing on its outcomes, as articulated by Dimitar Berbatov in quotes reported by AS.
"Liverpool would not have beaten Barcelona last year if the game were played behind closed doors," the Bulgarian said of Liverpool's miraculous Champions League comeback.
Berbatov is absolutely spot on. However, it could be a while until football can return to such moments but to coin a phrase from the media training handbook handed to every YTS scholar: it is what it is.
This is now football for the medium term. Inferior yet still superior to pretty much every other form of entertainment. It will be a while until we return to pre-pandemic levels of normalcy that were taken for granted but return they will.
United sacked Van Gaal too soon
Wayne Rooney was a big fan of Louis van Gaal. A big fan. The former Manchester United and England star reveals in extracts from a new book, LVG – The Manager and the Total Person, that he was devastated when Van Gaal was let go by Manchester United.
"I was devastated when Louis was sacked. For me, it was an absolute joy to work with him. We should have kept him for a third season. We would have been so much stronger," Rooney says.
I felt things were improving and players started to understand his vision. In those two years I learned more than under any other manager.
That's a punchy statement considering the calibre of some of the managers Rooney worked under. Is that harsh on Sir Alex Ferguson? Perhaps, or maybe not. Ferguson was a manager first and foremost and a coach second as he left a lot of the tactical bits to his assistant managers.
"This is why I will be forever grateful to him. Not just for making me captain, but also for all the trust and belief he had in me," added Rooney, which does read as a pop at Ferguson.
We are at that stage of lockdown
The stage where Jamie Carragher physically embodies a meme. Fair play.
Also, this is genuinely great content. Again, fair play.
How's your touch?
There is all this chat about footballers nowadays being technically superior to those of yesteryear and while there is some truth in that there are some footballers whose divine - see what the Warm-Up did there? - brilliance would take the breath away in any era. Niche fact, it is Andrea Pirlo who plays on the assist for Roberto Baggio at Brescia.
Nick Miller, very much to the Warm-Up what fans are to football (everything), is here tomorrow.