When the Noisiest Team Came to Town

No I was not referring to Manchester City. This post is about Stoke City’s visit to the European Capital of Trophies (Old Trafford) where Manchester United play their home games. I have not seen a pack of supporters challenge home fans as much as the Stoke City fans do when it comes to chanting. You would think they are the ones at home when they play against teams away from their zone. Stoke City is also one of the teams I fear most in the Premier League and I would rather we played Arsenal 4 times a season than play Stoke City at all. They just make life difficult for my boys but when we beat them we beat them good.

In the last 6 games against Stoke City, Manchester United have lost once, drawn 4 times and won just one game showing how stubborn the Potters are when it comes to facing the Red Devils. One reason I dreaded facing them at this stage of the season is that they have sacked their manager Mark Hughes and this is when the players will want to prove a point before a new manager or coach comes in. Anything short of victory is unacceptable for the Red Devils and going by Chelsea’s draw against Leicester City on Saturday it is a chance to at aleast put a 3 point gap between us and the Blues. I hate it when Chelsea is that close.

A decent line up by the United manager if you asked me and I was hoping Lukaku was going to be amongst the goal scorers and for my Fantasy football’s sake I was hoping Jesse Lingard would score or at least assist a goal and David De Gea would keep a clean sheet. The first half was quite explosive though the Red Devils took the lead in the 9th minute through Antonio Valencia who just returned to the squad after picking up an injury at the tail end of last year. Paul Pogba was instrumental to United taking the lead. Stoke however lost a barrage of chances with the main culprits being returnee Stephen Ireland and Xherdan Shaqiri. Paul Pogba stepped up again laying a fantastic  pass to Anthony Martial who made it 2-0 in favour of United in the 38th minute.  It was a beautiful first half, lovely end to end football and David De Gea was awesome for Man Utd making a couple of key saves.

The second kicked off with United being the most confident of the two sides  though missing a flurry of chances until the 72nd minute where Romelu Lukaku was able to increase the lead. It seems the Dubai weather was what was needed to calm the nerves of the Red Devils. Final score was 3 nil.

So Lukaku scored, De Gea did not concede but Lingard was not able to come up with a goal or assist. I would pick 3 league points over anything the fantasy league has to offer at this point. Paul Pogba was man of the match by miles.

I am quite happy with how game week 23 panned out. Chelsea drew, Arsenal and Manchester City lost and my beloved Man Utd won. So Liverpool did the whole English Premier League a favour by pegging City’s unbeaten run at 22. Arsenal fans must be happy their 49 game unbeaten run is safe but hey Celtic went 68 games unbeaten. Now that’s a record *picks race*

Thanks for reading. Enjoy the rest of your week.

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West Bromwich Albion Versus Manchester United

The last time out against Bournemouth was some sort of a bore if you ask me. No real link up play or interesting touches. At this point I miss the Manchester United of old. Against Bournemouth there were just two players that stood out for me in the Red Devils’ squad and they were Scott Mctominay and Luke Shaw, maybe when Marcus Rashford came on there was a bit of purpose but I am not being modest when I say Bournemouth played better. That’s past anyway and 3 points picked up by United.

Manchester City beat Tottenham 4-1 last night to extend their lead at the top of the league to 14 points though Man United were yet to play at the time. A United win will cut the City lead back to 11 points and I can say without mincing words the title race is over. The rest of the teams should just slug it out for 2nd position. City now boast of 16 straight wins in the English League and are in good stead for finishing the season unbeaten. They have beaten, battered and bruised fellow title contenders (Man U, Chelsea and maybe Liverpool, Spurs and Arsenal), so Pep Guardiola (Man City’s coach) clearly means business.

As I was taking the walk to the pub to catch the game against West Brom, I wasn’t as confident going into the game as I was when Bournemouth visited Old Trafford. But I am always scared of teams that come up against Man United in terrible form, some of them just pick up against the Red Devils. The 3 points for United would go a long way. The game kicked off in a drab manner and there were no real chances in the first 20 minutes.

Lukaku’s header towards goal

Romelu Lukaku however broke the deadlock in the 27th minute and I was hoping for a second goal before half time (yes greedy me). A deflection off Jesse Lingard’s shot by Hegazi put United 2 nil up in the 35th minute and I was rest assured of another 3 points at this stage. West Brom came close a couple of times but they were just mere threats nothing to have gotten the Red Devils worried much.

Lingard celebrates his goal with the other lads

The second half was quite interesting with the home side (West Brom) upping the ante and trying to get a goal. Their efforts paid off in the 77th minute with Gareth Barry getting the goal. At this point I was at the edge of my seat almost spilling my beer because of the pressure from the Baggies and my beloved United not taking the chances coming their way. The game ended 2-1. United are 11 points behind City and as the busy CHRISTmas schedule approaches where the Man City squad would really be tested, not in terms of opposition but with regards to strength of their squad. If the Pep led side can scale through this period unscathed then other teams should begin to prepare for the next season.

Next up for Manchester United is the EFL Cup quarter finals game against Bristol City on Wednesday night while Man City would be up against Leicester City on Tuesday night.

Thanks for your time guys, do have a great week ahead.

Manchester United Vs Bournemouth

The last four games between both sides have seen Man United win 2, lose 1 and draw 1 with both United wins ending 3-1 (in 2016) while Bournemouth nicked a 2-1 win over the Red Devils in 2015. This game comes just after Manchester City’s win in the Manchester derby and Jose Mourinho’s troop would be looking to bounce back against Eddie Howe’s boys tonight if they are to keep their Title dreams alive. It has already been heard in some corners that City have won the league already with 11 points ahead of 2nd placed United. Well who can stop them? Before today they had won 14 straight league games and they have beaten Liverpool, Arsenal, Chelsea and Manchester United all of which are title hopefuls. Sorry Tottenham fans I won’t give you a mention because you cannot be mentioned in the same sentence as those listed. But hey you will get your chance to make noise if you can beat Man City come Saturday.

Arsenal fans calm down its not that you were in line to win the Premier League. 13 years no title.

Before tonight’s game I was so confident of victory for United. I mean first of all I am a fan and secondly we were playing Bournemouth. It was only right to bounce back from the City loss with this game. I wanted Zlatan to start this game but hey Mourinho knows best. I didn’t even follow Man City’s game because like I said earlier they were going to annihilate Swansea, which they did with a 4 nil win.

Lukaku started ahead of Zlatan and he scored the lone goal of the match with a header. The goal was scored in the 25th minute of the game but the game to me was a mess. It felt like Bournemouth was the better side and they even had more shots on target than the Red Devils. If I was to pick my man of the match though I wouldn’t mince words in handing it to McTominay. A spirited performance from the young land.

Notable mention to Marcus Rashford after striking the bar with a shot from outside the box. It was a disappointing performance from the United boys but I will gladly take the  3 points. Next up for us is the Sunday game away to West Bromwich Albion. Nothing but 3 points would do when we face the Alan Pardew led squad.

Thanks for stopping by……. BLESS !!!

2/8

My prediction game has gotten so weak, I need to get my mojo back. If you refer to my last post you will find my predictions as regards the Champions League Draw which held today. I was able to get 2 out of 8 picks right and it was the Juventus versus Tottenham and the Chelsea versus Barcelona games that I predicted correctly.

Good draws I must say but there are some games that are not worth watching in the stadium let alone watch at home. The game between Real Madrid and PSG is a game that is meant strictly for the pubs or in my people’s language ‘beer parlor’ with a lot of pints or bottles going down and spicy things to munch on. The Chelsea match with Barcelona is worthy of such fun fare too. I can’t wait for February 2018 when the second round knockout games of the UEFA Champions League kick-off.

I still believe an English side will make it to the final.

Find the draws below.

Juventus v Tottenham 

Yes Manchester United were beaten 2-1 by Manchester City at Old Trafford in the first Manchester Derby of the season. A well deserved victory for the Cityzens. 

The noisy neighbours as City are called by fans of the Red Devils also broke the Premier League record of 13 straight league wins racking up a 14th consecutive win whilst extending their lead over United to 11 points. The Pep Guardiola led side also pegged Man Utd’s home winning run at 40. Can they hand Man City the Premier League title already?

Have a fab week guys…

5

If you were thinking this post was about Cristiano Ronaldo leveling up with Lionel Messi with regards to the amount of Balon D’or won then you are so wrong but hey since you have brought that up  in your mind I might as well bask in it. If you ask me I am a big Ronaldo fan and will always pick him ahead of Messi and not because he was a former Man United player and if you care to know I have not forgiven Nemanja Vidic for leaving the Red Devils when he did. You get my drift? I will assume you do. Lionel Messi is a great player but like I said I am a Ronaldo fan. 

I don’t want to compare both  lads. It’s  like you asking me to compare Tupac Shakur and Notorious BIG, I won’t be drawn into that argument and for the record I listen(ed) to Biggie more even though Tupac released more albums.

Ok now this post is about the 5 English Premier League  (EPL) teams that made it to the knock-out stage of the UEFA Champions League. To begin with 4 (Manchester United, Manchester City, Liverpool and Tottenham) of these 5 teams finished first in their respective groups with Chelsea being runner up in their group which had Roma securing top spot. 

This is the first time four English sides will finish atop their groups since 2006/07 season. Good feat ehh? Hmmm, I’d say yes. The other interesting thing about this lovely stat, for lack of a better word is 5 out of 6 times all English teams made it to the knock-out round, one of them at least got to the final except 2014 where Chelsea lost to Atletico Madrid in the semis. So should we be expecting an EPL side in the final at least this season? I will say it is very doable. 

Yea the La Liga fans will be like we also had 5 teams in 2015/16 season (Real Madrid, Atletico Madrid, Barcelona, Valencia and 2015 Europa league winners Sevilla). Valencia and Sevilla dropped out of the group stage so technically the English sides deserve more respect. Well that season Barcelona lost to Atletico Madrid in the quarter finals while Real Madrid beat their City rivals to win their 11th European title.

The good thing for the English sides is that they would not be paired against each other when the 2nd round draws are made on Monday but if all 5 make it to the quarter finals there’s no how they wouldn’t meet. That’s a big IF by the way. I am tipping one of the English sides to make it to the final but an all English final would be ideal. 

Let me lay out how the draws would go come Monday. I am only predicting o.

Manchester United Vs Porto

Basel Vs Beskitas

PSG Vs Shakhtar Donetsk

Bayern Munich Vs Man City

Roma Vs Sevilla

Chelsea Vs Barcelona

Juventus Vs Tottenham 

Liverpool Vs Real Madrid

Please endeavour not to dish out insults if the draws don’t pan out this way, lol. Arsenal I am sorry I cannot delve into your matter at this point because you people in the Europa league are too much and you play against teams that their names are hard to pronounce or forgotten in a second. Bear with me, but you guys can clap back by winning the Europa league. After all Man United did it and it is always our heights you aspire to reach.

The first Manchester derby is this weekend with records looking to be broken. Manchester City last weekend equalled Preston and Sunderland’s record of 13 straight league wins but are looking to make it 14 when they visit Manchester United’s Old Trafford where United currently share the record of 40 games and no loss at home with the legandary Busby Babes.

Thanks for your time guys. Have a great weekend…….. BLESS !!!

5 of the BEST: The Coaches

 

Before the end of the 2012/13 European soccer season,  I had known only one football manager all my life and he never did wrong (so I will like to think), even when he admitted he regretted selling Jaap Stam I still didn’t see it as a wrong move. You still don’t know who I am talking about? Its definitely Sir Alex Ferguson now. Who else could it have been? No disrespect to the other coaches that were around when Fergie was the head honcho at Manchester United. He was just too perfect for the team and a look at the trophy cabinet will only buttress the point of how good he was.

Post Fergie Era

There are a whole lot of coaches or managers out there today but there are only 5 I would pick from the pool if I was asked for  my favourites.  Find below my five best football coaches/managers:

Antonio Conte

  1. Antonio Conte: the very first time I heard this name was during the Euro 2000 tournament jointly hosted by Netherlands and Belgium. I could remember vividly that day in June, on the 11th to be precise which was my cousin’s birthday. I went out with the big boys that night and when the game came on I could just see the passion all over Conte’s ball play on the day. He didn’t disappoint me on this day and he even scored Italy’s first goal in the Azzuri’s 2-1 victory over Turkey. The moment he was announced the coach of my favourite Italian team and the 4th best team in the world, Juventus I was so happy for him (yes he doesn’t know me). He won the Serie A for 3 straight seasons and also bagged the Serie A manager of the year 3 years in a row. He stepped down as Juventus’ manager in July of 2014 after winning the Serie A with a record 102 points to take over the reins of the Italian National team. He led Italy to the quarter finals of Euro 2016 losing to Germany 6-5 on penalties after playing out a 1-1 draw in regulation time. He agreed to sign for Chelsea before the Euro 2016 tournament and he’s my favourite coach at the moment though he’s in charge of a rival team. Conte’s passion for the game is the reason I admire him a whole lot. If I had my way I would have preferred him to be the coach of my beloved Manchester United.

    Allegri, Ancelotti, Mourinho and Zidane

  2. Jose Mourinho: the self-acclaimed Special One is what the football world needs. Someone who will always have something to say about anything #SomeSortOfEntertainment. I had known there was something really special about him when he was in charge at Porto. In the 2003 UEFA Cup Final (now Europa League) he beat Celtic 3-2 in the final to claim the trophy and in 2004 he beat my beloved Man United in the 2nd round of the Champions League. Yes beating Man United has to be special. Mourinho went on to win the Champions League of that year causing Chelsea to snap him up in the summer. Mourinho was an instant hit when he signed for the Blues winning the Premiership and League Cup in his first season. His first spell with Chelsea brought about 6 trophies (2 Premiership titles, 2 League Cups, 1 FA Cup and 1 Charity Shield). Mourinho signed for Inter in 2008 and with them he won the Champions League, the Italian Serie A (twice), Supercoppa Italiana and the Coppa Italia. He also won the Spanish La Liga with Real Madrid, the Copa Del Rey and the Supercoppa de Espana in a 3 year stint before a return to Chelsea in 2013 where he won the league one more time (2015). He’s currently at the helm of affairs for Manchester United.
  3. Zinedine Zidane: I am sure you are shocked to find this young man on the list. For me it is not too early to add Zidane into the frame. He won the Champions League for Real Madrid within 6 months of handling the team. If he didn’t win the Champions League people will say it was because he wasn’t experienced. 15 months into the job and it’s looking like he could win the league though he faces serious competition from Barcelona and maybe Sevilla and Atletico Madrid. At some point he was my best footballer (between 2000 and 2004). His playing days was trophy laden-ed. He was named FIFA Player of the Year 3 times (1998, 2000 and 2003),he also won the World Cup (1998) and Euro 2000 with France. He won the Champions League as a player with Real Madrid and as assistant to my next favourite coach on the list. Zizou as Zinedine Zidane is popularly called has a very impressive resume. Shine on Zizou.
  4. Carlo Ancellotti: I didn’t use to like Italian coaches to be honest. I saw Arrigo Sacchi’s men beat the Super Eagles at the 1994 World Cup. I believed Sacchi set his team up to hurt and get the key players of the Nigerian team out of the game. That was my take and that I will stick with till my dying day. There’s something special about Carlo though. He has this calm demeanour which I really like. He has been to different places like mazes as a Manager coaching Chelsea, Real Madrid, Paris Saint-Germain not forgetting the club he played for A.C Milan. He is presently in charge of Bayern Munich. Not much to say about the gentleman but what is there not to like about him? I digress.
  5. Massimiliano Allegri: even if you don’t like the guy I am sure you love the name *winks*. The former A.C Milan coach is now the boss at Juventus (the fourth best club in the world). He has not let the big foot Antonio Conte left behind deter him. He’s on track to winning his 3rd Serie A title, he has also won the Coppa Italia twice and the Supercoppa Italiana once. He led Juventus to the final of the 2015 Champions League final which held in Berlin,Germany losing to Barcelona 3-1.

There you have it, my favourite coaches of the beautiful game (at the moment) and strangely they all have ties with the Italian Serie A. Notable mentions; Diego Simeone, Pep Guardiaola, Marcelo Bielsa, Guus Hiddink, Luciano Spalletti, Thomas Tuchel, Jurgen Klopp, Mauricio Pochettino, Jorge Sampaoli and Claudio Ranieri to mention a few.

250 Goals

 

The departure of Ruud Van Nistelrooy from Manchester United to Real Madrid in 2006 paved the way for me to love Wayne Rooney.  The longest I have loved a Manchester United player before now was for 5 years and it was David Beckham. 11 years on (2006 till date) and no one has toppled Wayne Wazza Rooney in my books. Cristiano Ronaldo came in at some point though but his reign at the top of my list was short like leprechauns (thank you Notorious B.I.G for that line, I have always wanted to use it). I was privileged to watch Rooney’s debut for the Red Devils against Fenerbache in 2004 where he bagged a hat-trick and an assist. I wasn’t surprised at his ability on his United debut night because I had been following his progress since his wonder goal for Everton against Arsenal in 2002.

My love for him has not been as a result of his goal scoring exploits but his commitment, desire and passion for both the Three Lions of England and Manchester United. Yes someone will say he tried to force a move out of Old Trafford twice because he wanted more money but that doesn’t make him less of a great player or better put a LEGEND.

Fast forward through 13 years and Wayne Rooney is Manchester United’s all-time top scorer snatching the crown from Sir Bobby Charlton. Rooney equaled Charlton’s record of 249 goals when the Red Devils triumphed 4- 0 over Reading in the FA Cup third round of games. 2 weeks after the Reading game Rooney came off the bench to salvage a draw for Man United with a brilliant free-kick to break Bobby Charlton’s record. Rooney has now scored 250 goals for Manchester United in 546 games and ranked 7th position behind the likes of Paul Scholes, Bill Foulkes, Ryan Giggs and Bobby Charlton in the all-time appearance list for the Red Devils.

Rooney peeling off in celebration as Ander shares his joy

Goal record broken, UEFA Champions League , 5 EPL titles, 3 EFL Cups and a host of other football trophies won, Wayne Rooney can quit Manchester United with a sense of accomplishment. He can head to China while I boast that Rooney’s feat happened in my time.

 

 

All hail the Manchester United King of Goals.