Today (Sunday 17th) was the day that staff could return to Bodymoor according to a statement from AVFC
“We expect that members of the first team squad and staff who are healthy and safe to return to training will do so on Sunday when the isolation protocols will have been observed.”
Players and staff will have to test negative before they can resume training/work, obviously.
The Aston Villa first team haven’t played since New Years Day (Manchester United 2-1 Aston Villa) but now face a fixture pile up. Fair enough, in some ways this forced rest has given the players a break to re-charge, but on the other hand, they now have to play six games in 18 days. A game every three days. This isn’t Sunday league football, this is a top level sport and that is a massive ask, especially for those who have had, and are recovering from, the virus.
Ok, we don’t have the facts on that, the players might have been asymptomatic, and obviously no player is going to be asked to play if they are still unwell – although with that said, Lewis Hamilton rushed back for the last F1 fixture of the year and said after how surprised he was at how shattered he was feeling at the end, so top athletes do get hit badly at times.
These viruses can leave a lasting, lingering, fatigue.
Which brings me on to the point. Is this really sustainable?
I argued all along, in our Covid in Football forum thread, if football (and other sports) can return, they should. But now? Well, I still hope it can continue as it gives all of us mere mortals something positive (when winning!) to focus on, but with the massive infection rates, the pressure on the NHS and the fact (that I heard on the Andrew Marr show this morning from the Chairman on the NHS) that a quarter of all those hospitalised with covid at the moment, are under 50, maybe a break will be needed?
Or is this still isolated to a few clubs? Can it remain so? We don’t know do we?!
Whatever, I don’t think those doing the fixtures know much about top level sport, or indeed, pandemics, when they allow a pile up like this.
20/01/2021 18:00 Manchester City v Aston Villa BT Sports
23/01/2021 20.00 Aston Villa v Newcastle United Sky Sports
27/01/2021 18:00 Burnley v Aston Villa BT Sport
30/01/2021 20:00 Southampton v Aston Villa Sky Sports
02/02/2021 19:45 Aston Villa v West Ham United
06/02/2021 15:00 Aston Villa v Arsenal
As said, that is 6 games in 18 days. Now, I’m always on about the players being young and fit, they can handle it, but this looks too intense and with a lack of strength in depth for all but the very top teams, it seems to me this is the path to major injuries.
I guess time will tell.
On the positive, we should have Ross Barkley back for the Manchester City match and without being negative, when City are on form, they are very hard to compete with, so I’d rather face them first off – as a free hit – than matches that we really need to be winning, or at least drawing in, like Newcastle and Burnley.
Dean Smith on the situation:
“When we go back, we have got 23 big games to play.” 💪
In the second part of his interview with VillaTV, Dean Smith explains the sequence of events that led to the closure of Bodymoor Heath earlier this month and provides an update on his squad… pic.twitter.com/OTe5JrgGdf
— Aston Villa (@AVFCOfficial) January 17, 2021
(I’m making a tentative return to writing, something I’ve done for 20 years now, following yet more brain ache issues and my 14th operation. I was close to hanging up the keyboard, but I’ll see how it goes. Hopefully this article is error free! Right now, the lights are on but no one is home so to speak!)