It is a tale of two fronts for Stoke City at the moment: or perhaps three with the known knowns, the known unknowns and the unknown unknowns.
On the latter, the UK and most of the world remains paralysed as it tries to get a handle on the coronavirus pandemic. Sport has come to a grinding halt and even talks about when it could get back or how are only tentative at this stage.
There is still a desire to finish the 2019/20 season – but behind-closed-doors plans for June like the one mooted in The Mirror still seem a long way off.
More meetings are due to be held this week by video conference but who knows?
The known knowns
Stoke players, coaches and staff – and the occasional legend – have been calling up supporters to check they are ok and chat football.
It is a nice touch and much appreciated.
Simon Lowe explains in his column: “In the calls, the club offered help such as collection medication or doing the weekly shop, giving peace of mind to thousands of people who are searching for just about anything they can to hold onto some kind of normality, compassion and assistance right now.
“In our family’s case, my 82-year-old father was called by one of the Academy coaches, currently without youngsters to train. A lovely chat ensued. No assistance happened to be necessary in our case, but it really made me feel good to think that if it had been needed then it would have been provided. No problem.
“What a great move by the club.
“Other lucky people have had the legend that is Denis Smith phone them up – a real treat! While assistant manager Billy McKinlay has also been on the blower for some. Well, he is at a loose end…
“Fantastic stuff, Stoke City. Well done.”
The known unknowns
Football and normality will return at some stage and in Michael O’Neill, Stoke have got a planner.
Even if Stoke don’t know what the climate will be like in terms of the transfer market whenever it opens, O’Neill has been keeping tabs on how he could might find improvements.
And there are bargains and gems to be found north of the border.
“The attraction of the market is that players from Scotland going down to England see it as a massive opportunity.” he said in an interesting interview with Martin Spinks.
“It’s a much bigger league and obviously financially it’s far more rewarding. Typically, you’ll get a player with a good attitude who’s hungry to succeed.
“The other thing about the Scottish Premier League is that there’s a lot of young players. You can come up here and find 21 year-olds who’ve played a hundred games and that’s quite hard to find in English football, certainly in the Championship and Premier League level.
“What’s happening up here, as a result of the financial struggle, is that clubs have to develop their own players and that means at every club, typically, there’s young players getting the opportunity to play first-team football.
“Those essentially are the players worth monitoring and keeping an eye on.”