On Sunday afternoon, Manchester United were supposed to host Leeds United for a Premier League match at Old Trafford.
But earlier this week, the match was postponed after Greater Manchester Police decided they did not have enough officers for the game, with large numbers committed to helping with Queen Elizabeth II’s funeral in London the next day.
The match is also classified as a Class A game, which requires more kicks as it is considered high risk due to the rivalry between clubs.
This weekend, when 14 of the 20 Premier League clubs are out, United players will either take part in a training session or sit at home.
The postponement this weekend was so unfortunate that last Sunday’s United game against Crystal Palace, along with all football matches across the country, was also called off as a sign of respect following the Queen’s death three days ago.
After this weekend, the Premier League is taking an unusually early week-long break for international matches due to the World Cup in the middle of next season in Qatar.
This means United will not play a Premier League match for about a month; Their last game was against Arsenal on September 4, and their next encounter will be until October 2 when they travel the short distance to Manchester City.
This would be frustrating for United manager Eric Ten Hag as he stopped his side in their tracks just as they were building some crucial momentum.
United started slowly with two defeats against Brighton and Brentford, before scoring an impressive comeback with four consecutive victories over Liverpool, Southampton, Leicester City and Arsenal.
The victories over Champions League finalists Liverpool, who comfortably beat them twice last season, and Arsenal, who won when they met in their first five matches and were at the top of the table, were particularly satisfying.
This run helped United climb from the bottom of the table to fifth, and they would have moved closer to the top with wins over Crystal Palace and Leeds.
Ten Hag was building something impressive, and he quickly figured out what suited him best, which players he could trust and which players he didn’t care about.
In this period there have been two Europa League matches, a home defeat to Real Sociedad and an away victory over the Sheriff of Tiraspol, but Tin Hag will ultimately be judged on his performance in the most demanding Premier League.
However, there is a strong argument to suggest that Tin Hag and his players could indeed benefit from this unexpected Premier League shutdown.
Those four wins have given Tin Hag some breathing space, so he can now treat this time as pre-season, allowing him to organize additional training sessions and really impose his ideas on his team.
Of United’s six summer signings, only one of them, Terrell Malacia, has had a full season, so this time it provides others, especially Casemiro and Anthony, more time to settle into the club and get a briefing on what Ten Hag wants.
United may be grateful for this period of relative calm, because when they resume play on October 2, they will be immersed in a solid schedule of 13 games in 42 days, before club football takes a 6-week break for the World Cup in November. .
At the start of those matches next month, we will soon see if United have been damaged by this shutdown, or upgraded and strengthened.