Mourinho’s Second Season At Manchester United

Mourinho’s Second Season At Manchester United: Why there was no trophy!

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By Adeola Aderounmu

I am an unusual fan.

When l was a little boy growing up in Nigeria l knew the names of many football teams and many of their football players. In the days of Leventis United and ABIOLA Babes, l rock. And for the Nigerian national team, l knew their shirt numbers and their names from Best Ogedegbe to Segun Odegbami and Christian Chukwu.

Nigerian football died literarily the same way the Nigerian economy and many other glorious things died.

So instead of writing about Nigerian professional league which is on the rise again (l hope) but suffering severely in terms of marketing and profit compared to foreign leagues. Of course we left things in the hand of very bad people and very ignorant people. We have issues in Nigeria. Serious ones!

So don’t be mad at me for writing about Mourinho and Manchester United.

 

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I am an unusual fan because l hardly follow a team for long. Rather l get stuck with some managers and over the past few years it has been Mourinho and recently Zidane.

Mourinho was supposed to be the man lifting the premier league trophy  in 2018 but he made some terrible choices along the way. In the second season, still struggling with some half-baked players and some of the world’s most expensive players, Mourinho still had the chance but he was a bit disorganised.

A couple of things went wrong for Mourinho.

One of them was that he never had a nucleus team. No team can win anything without having a nucleus. Jose Mourinho did not establish a starting 11 under the 2017-2018 season. This is very bad for a coach. Mourinho should have had a good idea of his starting 11 for the league, for the champions league and for the league cup.

There are always injury concerns that affect the stability of a team. In the absence of injury you still need to establish a nucleus for every competition you play.

In one outstanding game, Mourinho’s Manchester United defeated Liverpool and with the way he had played the season, he could have used the same team to dismiss Sevilla.

But Mourinho decided to change the team. It is not as if l am contradicting myself but since Mourinho’s team was not a steady one he could have used the momentum of the Liverpoool game to dismiss Sevilla. But Mourinho more or less threw the game away at Old Trafford.

In the next season Mourinho needs to make a better plan and take the risks with the players he has. Build a nucleus of players for each competition and stop the excessive rotation of players after every game. For the premier league especially, he needs a team of 11 and a balanced group of replacements on the bench. You can’t win the premier league with unsteady selections.

The other problem with Mourinho is that he spent a lot of time planning the technicalities for the big games and doing nothing for the small games. It was the small games that sank Manchester United in the 2017/18 season. Hudderfield, Newcastle and other smaller teams stole victories from Manchester United. Some get draws! The worst was the lose to West Brom who were already hopeless.

Jose Mourinho, you cannot win the premier league when you lose to teams facing relegation. Mourinho and Manchester United must spend as much time and energy on the big games as the small games. They all count.

Another sensitve issue in Manchester United is the team ego. The team has many big players who want to hold down certain positions in the team. Mourinho must have this sorted out during the pre-season and in training. A player should not come on or off the pitch grumbling or unhappy. As l player l need to know where and how l fit in the the coach’s plan and do my job on the pitch.

I was following Mourinho at Chelsea, at Madrid, a bit at Inter. He has down a full cycle and is now at Manchester United. What Mourinho needs to do better is not complete without talking about his defensive style. He needs to be more ruthless and Manchester United really needs to train about how the players can work more for the team than for self-glory. When you attack, the players need to look for one another in order to maximise their advantages.

Often Manchester United fall deep in own half instead of finishing up a game they are poised to win. If you have a better team you need to show it more in attacking and less in counter attack.

Jose, now you know that someone is following you first and the team second.

Good luck to you next season and l will be watching you and the style you bring.

By the way, victory or no victory, l get inspiration from you as a coach and as a school teacher l adapt some of what l see in what l do but l try not to change too many things so that my students don’t get confused. Teachers always stick to the plan!

 

aderounmu@gmal.com

 

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Nigeria And The 2018 World Cup

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Nigeria And The 2018 World Cup

By Adeola Aderounmu

I have just watched the first match of the 2018 world cup, Russia 2018 with the host country white-washing the Kingdom of Saudi Arabia with 5-0. Some people were already questioning the qualification/eligibility of Saudi Arabia based on their poor performance.

It was a victory that the Russians needed to stamp their authority as the host of the competition. Afterall Korea went all the way to the semifinal when she hosted the competition albeit getting all the help in the world from the FIFA referees along the way.

Anyway l want to spend the little time l have now on the Super Eagles of Nigeria, their NIKE shirt maker and the friendlies they lost.

ONCE again Nigeria is one of the hopes of the continent of Africa.  The good news is that Nigeria lost her 2 friendly matches in a run up to the world cup. A 1-2 lose to England was the first wake up call. It was good news because Nigerians now know that their hopes should not be beyond the abilities or the capabilities of the boys representing them at Russia 2018. If Nigeria crashes out in the group stages, there will be no serious hypertension.

In fact l wished the health authorities in Nigeria can sound a note of warning about the health implications of getting too emotional about this worldcup. I learnt my lessons far back in USA 1994 during my last year at the University of Lagos.

We were African champions and we were the 4th best team in the world. That team had the potentials to be the world champion. All is history now.

When the Super Eagles match out in this tournament, they will face Croatia, a very technical team, Iceland, a team that sent England home at Euro 2016 and Argentina, a familiar foe.

The Super Eagles are parading the youngest team at the tournament but the players are full of experience. Mikel Obi and Victor Moses will team up with Onazi and Iwobi to lead the team to glory (if they choose glory).

The boys should not be carried away by the colours or admiration of their jerseys. NIKE is smiling to the bank despite doing a very useless job on the provision of the national wears. NIKE is asking me for a feedback on the way my questions have been answered concerning the messy work they did with the national team jersey and its availability globally. This will be my feedback, a blog entry.

If you go to leading football stores/ websites around the world, you can buy the national team jerseys of the world best teams and national teams. But you cannot buy the original of that of Nigeria at the retail price before and after June 1 2018. In my opinion, this is a very useless development. If the world loves the super eagles jersey, it was the responsibility of NIKE to see to it that the world gets it.

But no, they can produce any amount they like and they can decide not to produce more when the stock that was released on June 1 ran out globally after 20 minutes.

What does NIKE care about the feelings of Nigeria? Absolutely nothing!

NIKE has no respect for Nigerians and the supporters of Nigeria football if that means that whe whole world support Nigeria.

Today l can still buy the national team jerseys of leading football clubs in the world, but not that of Nigeria that just even drop her position in FIFA’s ranking.

I know NIKE tried to explain it but it is not acceptable. The reasons fell flat.

You don’t prepare for rain by waiting for the rain to start. I learnt that before l was 8 years old.

Money they made, yes. They also opened the market for fake products from China to Ibadan. Good for those in that line of business. But the responsibility of making the products available wherever and whenever was damn bad.  I will leave it like that though l have more to say about it.

For the games, Nigeria must watch out for the ICELANDERS. They are formidable and they will punish any team for the slightest mistake. That is their greatest strength. They lay low and allow you to make a mistake and that is it. Their second strength is in set-pieces. They don’t like to waste them.

So Nigeria cannot go to sleep for one minute playing a wise team like Iceland.

For Croatia and Argentina, Nigerians just need to hold up their heads and remember that they play week-in and week-out at the same levels with these players in different leagues in Europé. They are the same people and should not be given the kind of respect that will make the Nigerian team look inferior. Just do it! Isn’t that what NIKE wants whether we the supporters get the jersey or not?

I am going to sit back and watch as many matches as l can. I hope the referees don’t make me switch off my tv with some useless decisions. These happened in many games before and FIFA need to stop influencing results. The corruption in FIFA must not be brought to the field of play or to gambling companies.

Some of us just want to relax and see the beautiful game. A part of us is attached to our country’s team and the other part just want to be part of the greatest sport event on planet earth.

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

 

Fatal Distractions

Clemens Westerhof said qualifying for the African Cup of Nations is a birthright of the Super Eagles of Nigeria. Guess which country is conspicuously missing in action again as you get wallowed with religious issues.

Fatal Distractions

By Adeola Aderounmu

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This past week, as usual, l have listened to some Nigerian radio programs, read Nigerian headline news and followed keenly Nigerian discussions on the social media.

These past few days have been dominated by matters relating to religion, the opium of the Nigeria masses.

In southern Kaduna, there are evidence to show the persecutions of christians. Genocide under the watch of Mr. El-rufai should hopefully lead to his trial and total annihilation from politics in the future (if Nigeria should suddenly become a normal country).

This is the country where a criminal like Ibori became a governor and other top level criminals have also gone to occupy both local, state and federal positions. Nigerians hail them and forget their sins.

Invariably though, it would appear that the cold war in Kaduna’s politics and tribal game of thrones got matured and became blown open. The brewing had been there forever.

Some people have also warned about the APC and some people have stated that the APC-Buhari mandate came with an lslamic agenda. The unfortunate massacre in southern Kaduna at this time, and the silence of Mr. Buhari on the matter is either a bad coincidence or a credence to the allegations against the APC-Buhari mandate. Either way, it does no one no good.

The other distraction bothering on religious matter plaguing Nigeria at this time concerns one of the pentecostal churches in Nigeria and their super general overseer. The man Adeboye is so powerful he is a god to his followers. For people like him who became gods to their followers, laws were made. For him specifically, a law was discarded.

There are more fatal distractions. We all got used to the religious gangsters in the North. Boko Haram, nototrious for abduction and rape of women remained established. Nowadays they hardly make the news for their religious views. After fulfilling their sexual orgies, they continue to find both soft and hard targets daily across north-eastern Nigeria especially. The bombing of Adamawa is still so fresh.

You can imagine how many times you will hear the falsehood that the potent terror group has/had been defeated. It’s like you cannot get rid of a monster that you created by yourself.

So, if you are interested in research on a people who love to be distracted and deceived, take a trip to Nigeria. If you also want to analyse a people who are easily distracted, come again to Nigeria.

For those who have their eyes on the ball all the time, they know what time it is now. This weekend the most important sport tournament in Africa, the African Cup of Nations started in Gabon.

When l told one of my colleagues that Nigeria did not qualify for the competition after he wished me goodluck for the tournament, his eyes nearly popped out of his face in both disbelief and shock.

As he walked away from me, l could not find the expressions to explain why Nigeria was missing in action. When he returns to work after his leave in 4 weeks, the tournament would have been over. So, my shame is postponed for 4 weeks.

But who remembers this?

When former super eagles coach Clemens Westerhof was in charge, he said that no one should ever worry about Nigeria qualifying for the African Cup of Nations. He puts our minds to rest forever on the matter. In his words, he said ”to qualify for the ACN is the birthright for the Super Eagles of Nigeria”.

Since 1994, other nations may have become better, that means Nigeria should have become the best too over the years. But that was not the sequence, sadly. Nigeria as a country may have gone to bed since 1960.

Nigeria is missing in action and many of us, thousand of miles away from home are  covering our heads in shame. Our people at home remain distracted by the major impediments to their growth and development, religion and religion-related matters.

Rather than bemoan the decline and even the dearth of national sport activities in Nigeria, our people are discussing religion. They did not even come out to fight for the super falcons. They did not use the opportunity of the super falcons’s protest to call for accountability in the sport ministry.

Our people are boasting of exporting religion especially churces back to Europé and America. Our minds are definitely wasted. How can our hearts not ache for this growing tragedy?

Apart from sports, there are many things too numerous to mention that should draw the anger and engagement of our people. What can happen if we hypothetically take this energy and committment away from religion and place it on one of Nigeria’s prominent problems, say lack of electricity for example?

Lack of electricity is a major contributor to the recession in Nigeria. Despite all the monies that our criminal politicians have stolen and continue to steal from the treasury Nigeria would still not have gone into a recession if only there is constant power supply. Today is not the day to prove that theorem.

The sacking of Mr. Obazee shows that things can actually happen if the Nigerian government and the people become sincere to themselves. A swift change was made as a result of personal ego and ambitions. Why is it difficult to effect the changes that would rub on the common good of all?

The hullabaloos  about religion, lslam and Christianity, are never going to be over in Nigeria and sadly too, the problems will stay because our energies are focussed on the wrong issues. The people are permanently distracted because the truth did not even set them free and it also appears to be too late to make religion a private matter for the people of Nigeria.

If l had a magic swerve or swagger, l would redirect the rage (waited all my adult life for it) to the biggest problem with Nigeria which is the political problem.

Nigerians will know no freedom until the country’s number one problem which is the politicial problem is solved. Religion will never solve Nigeria’s problem. The best that religion can do is to break up Nigeria, violently.

Mr. Buhari and the self-serving executive and legislators sitting down in the comfort of their mansions in Abuja will not solve all the problems in Abuja. How can they solve the problems of the people of Idanre, Okokomaiko, Akwa, Chibok or Moniya?

There is no greater insanity of a political system where almost anything that affect 200 m people depends on one man.

The knee jerk responses will remain the hallmark of this reactionary, redundant system of government in Nigeria. The greater proportion of the third generation of post-independent Nigeria, about 100 m people, is already wasting away in abject poverty, extreme penury and hopelessness.

With the failure of governance and Nigeria currently in recession and therefore a failed country, the churches and mosques will still be there to receive this miserable proportion of the population living from hand to mouth and suffering amidst abundance resources.

Religious institutions will not be converted to factories to provide work and wipe away hunger and frustrations. The Nigerian government will continue to neglect civil responsibilities while sending folks on tourism to Mecca and Jerusalem with taxpayers monies.

Life will always be short and not many people count their days or months to actually know this. Instead we opted to even devalue those days on earth. We demean the essence of life. It’s the same cycle of idiocy.

Just when we thought our clamour should move towards cooking by induction if our electricity is improved, we got a rude shock that the people  are now cooking with firewood even  in western Nigeria, the part of Africa  that was most advanced in the earlier parts of the 20th century.

What a tragedy!

Believers are rejocing over the sack of Mr. Obazee. Nigeria is definitely a one chance ride for all. Well done all for keeping up with the distraction games. Even with your academic intelligence (and too bad for those deprived of the right to education), it helps your politicians to continue to enslave you in your belief that the solutions to your problems lie in religion rather than the use of common sense and the application of social and civil responsibilities.

My colleague loves the game and even though he left South America many years ago, he kept his eyes on the ball and he knows the game. He loves it and he believes in Nigeria. He often spoke of her exploits at Atlanta 96 especialy the game against Brazil.

I’m glad his eyes didn’t pop out of his face. But our people back home are still busy killing in the name of religion. They are busy wallowing and hallowing in the name of imported religions and missing the simple essence/purpose of life- to live and let live.

No greater fatal distraction!

 

aderounmu@gmail.com

Jose Mourinho’s Second Chelsea Sack

By Adeola Aderounmu

Mikel, Mourinho and Fabregas

Mikel, Mourinho and Fabregas

Jose Mourinho is a good manager. The results put him as probably the best manager to date in the history of football.

Many say he did it all with great clubs, but l doubt that. Porto was not a top club when Mourinho started to make his waves with them.

Fast forward 2015 Mourinho made one of the biggest mistakes any worker could make. He complained too much about his tools.

The team doctor Eva Carneiro had nothing to do with the 2-2 draw with Swansea at the beginning of the season. His outburst and reactions were over the top.

How that spilled into the players’ head and mentality is another story.

Chelsea players have not played for Mourinho this season. They are the ones who earned the bad results, not Mourinho. A coach cannot go to the pitch to play the game and he has limited options until the transfer season is re-opened in January or during the summer.

The sacking of Mourinho is one of the biggest players revolt in history.

But it was coming and to not see it is to pretend that failure is success.

He would have learnt some of the hardest lessons of his career with the bunch of arrogant, tired legs at Stamford bridge.

He must learn to be more diplomatic and never to call the name of his players during a match preview or review. Don’t blame your players in the open. Talk to them individually and collectively when necessary.

Mourinho made his errors but the poor results and the performances of the players went over the limits. Many of them paying tributes to Mourinho on social media are actually supposed to be covering their faces in shame. I won’t name them. Mourinho will do so in his many books which l am sure will be bestsellers.

I wish Mourinho success in the future and l hope the lessons are learnt.

aderounmu@gmail.com

 

The Changing Lanes of Mikel and Fabregas

If John Obi Mikel grows up (in Chelsea) the way I predict, we have found gold-Jose Mourinho, 2006

The Changing Lanes of Mikel and Fabregas

By Adeola Aderounmu

Mikel, Mourinho and Fabregas

Mikel, Mourinho and Fabregas

Mikel Obi and Cesc Fabregas of Chelsea Football Club can make history together if they become champions of the English Premier League this year 2015. This can happen already on Sunday the 3rd of May if Chelsea defeats Crystal Palace at Stamford Bridge.

Such a feat will cap 2 seasons of reform and planning instituted at Chelsea by the special one Jose Mourinho. The little horse that crawled in 2014 is now grown and running.

In the 34th game of the season played on Wednesday 29th away at Leicester, Mikel Obi came on as a late substitute for Cesc Fabregas. I looked at the two of them and l saw how great football can be.

By great, l mean in the sense of history, purpose, achievements and different perspectives of looking at life.

Fabregas has always been a libero/playmaker since his days as a Spanish national U-17 footballer. His ascendance into the football hall of fame was not an accident. His tutelage in Barcelona and development in Arsenal played remarkable roles in forming him into one of football’s brightest minds.

When Febregas and Matic arrived at Chelsea as Jose Mourinho started his second term at the Bridge, Mikel became an irregular player.

Mikel himself arrived at Chelsea at the age of 19 under controversial circumstances that saw FIFA intervened in the Manchester United and Chelsea fight for a young player whom Mourinho described as gold in 2006.

Mikel’s exemplary humility as a Chelsea player has often been overlooked but his contributions though quiet, are immense. Even this season Mourinho still praise the player he converted from a natural attacking role to a defensive midfielder.

By converting Mikel from an attacking player to a defensive player and then departing Chelsea in the middle of it, many critics still think that Mourinho did not allow Mikel to reach his potentials.

In my opinion Mikel will remain a utility player and that makes him a good player. A good footballer must be versatile and formable. Some players never made it far because they are unable to adjust to situations and the need of the clubs.

Mikel has played more than 300 games for Chelsea and l don’t think he is ever going to complain about the number of games he played since the arrival of Fabregas and Matic.

Rather he had stood up every time he is called upon. He has never pretended to be a Fabregas or a Matic. Like a giant he rises up when called upon and holds his place and style of play on the field.

According to Swedish commentators, when Mikel is introduced by Jose Mourinho, it means that the shop is closed. Mikel’s style of play is very effective in holding possession and when necessary has been a part of the Chelsea’s bus parking mode.

In Chelsea’s shirt Mikel has won many trophies. The greatest of them is Champions League Cup. At the Nigerian national team level-where many critics believe that Mikel hasn’t given his best-his moment came when he led the Nigerian midfield to win the African cup of Nations’ trophy in 2013.

Under Stephen Keshi and with a team that also included Chelsea’s team mate Victor Moses and the sublime Sunday Mba, Mikel’s performance in the midfield in 2013 was the highlight of his time wearing the colours of Nigeria. Against Ivory Coast in the semi-final, he literarily pocketed Yaya Toure to gain command of the field.

In his career, Fabregas has won several individual awards. With Spain he has won the European Championship a couple of times and the World cup in South Africa 2010. the playmaker is however still hunting for a Champions’ League Cup glory.

Both Fabregas and Mikel have come to represent further examples of young players who went on to develop their games (even if it is to varying degrees) and shown that football is a progressive sport.

We will never know what Mikel’s career would have been like as an attacking midfielder. We will make do with hypotheses and theories.

From being very young players, both Fabregas and and Mikel’s paths finally crossed each other at the club level when Fabregas signed for Chelsea and formed part of the entourage that came with the return of Jose Mourinho to Stamford Bridge.

On Sunday the 3rd of May, both players can make history together at Stamford Bridge if they lift the EPL cup together. They have the Crystal Palace hurdle to surmount. Fabregas may be with Matic on the starting line up while Mikel may start from the bench.

Unless I had forgotten Chelsea appeared not to have lost any premier league game at the Bridge under Mourinho. Last season l remembered that they rescued a point against West Brom in the last minute of the game.

If Chelsea fails on Sunday, it won’t matter so much. Picking 2 or 3 points from 3 outstanding games must not be an impossible task for a team that started the season at the top of the table and has kept it calm for 35 weeks.

It is almost improbable and unthinkable that Chelsea will need the favour of another team to defeat Arsenal which is the only team still capable of catching up with Chelsea at the top.

Some questions and issues of pride may arise at the end of the season or remain untouched under pretense. How England allowed his greatest defender to quit the national team under an avoidable situation will remain debatable. John Terry may even get a new contract at Chelsea beyond this season. He may also decide to retire on a high note.

Together with Ivanovic and Cahill, Terry remains the focal point of the gang that has formed the proverbial parked bus in front of Chelsea’s goal line. One Swedish commentator added that it is like the Chelsea defenders are born to block shots!

With active legs like those of Ramires, Matic, Azpilcueta and in form Willian, Chelsea may run home with the title this weekend.

After all the blocking and hopefully some goals that will get Chelsea the victory on Sunday, and when the deeds are done, they may still need Mikel Obi to close the shop for the 2015 season.

If John Obi Mikel grows up (in Chelsea) the way I predict, we have found gold-Jose Mourinho said in 2006.

Has Mikel developed the way Mourinho wanted him to?

No doubt, Fabregas will be there to open the 2016 season. What about the shop closer, the former golden boy of the FIFA 2005 World Youth Champinoship-John Mikel Obi?

aderounmu@gmail.com