The New Normal

Assistant Manager Steven Schumacher is as exasperated as anyone to have seen the Pilgrims’ exciting Sky Bet League Two promotion chase put on hold for the time being.

Argyle were riding high in the automatic promotion places before the season was suspended a month ago due to the coronavirus pandemic. Since then, players and staff have been communicating remotely, doing their best to stay fit in isolation.

“Like everybody else, I’m frustrated – although I am, of course, supportive of the decision to postpone the season,” said Schuey. “There are things we need to sort out in the country before we start worrying about football.

“We are a bit gutted that we had to postpone when the team were in such a good place. I’m just missing everybody really, going into work, seeing everyone, doing what we love.”

Schuey is known within the four walls of Home Park for his meticulous approach to planning and tactics. With the season on indefinite hiatus, though, the former Everton midfielder is now applying his methodical principles to life at home with his family.  

He said: “Now, my routine consists of doing The Body Coach PE sessions with my little boy, having a penalty shoot-out at about 11 o’clock, a game of football in the garden at about 3 o’clock, and doing a bit of work in between!”

“I won’t be alone in that. There’ll be people up and down the country, in every line of work, doing the same.”

Schuey and his young family relocated down to Plymouth in the summer and have remained in the city for the duration of the lockdown. Like the rest of society, the Schumacher family’s contact with extended family members has been conducted remotely.

“The family are all good, parents back in Liverpool are missing us – but the FaceTime and family calls have helped,” said Schuey. “The kids are a little bit young; they don’t understand it all, totally, but they understand that, at this moment in time, we’re restricted in what we can do.

“We can go for a walk around the park, but they can’t go on any of the slides – which they can’t get their head around at the moment! That’s life for everyone, isn’t it? Everyone’s feeling the pinch.”

While Schuey freely admits that he is finding the enforced break frustrating on a personal level, he is also mindful of the impact social isolation can have on those who live alone – for many of whom, trips to Home Park are the highlight of the week.

“I feel more sorry for the fans than us,” said Schuey. “It’s their life, it’s how they socialise. Everybody must be missing it a great deal.

“I think a lot of work needs to be done on making sure that people are OK. This will have longer lasting implications on everyone’s mental health. Without the release of football, it could be a big issue.”