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.

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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.

 

My Pastor Is A Man Utd Fan

My last post was titled The Manchester United Struggles and since sharing that article Man Utd have won two consecutive games with the most recent one against Leicester City this past Saturday. Now I am not saying that the team is back to its best (obviously not) but it takes a bit of pressure off Jose Mourinho and the lads.

I am yet to believe the team won Leicester City because Wayne Rooney was benched because the team beat Northampton and Rooney played. Now my point is maybe Rooney should be benched for a few more games to find out if he really is the problem. “Maybe” being the keyword. Only time will tell right? I figured.

It was a good first half for Man United when they hosted Leicester City on Saturday at Old Trafford and I say good first half because they scored all of their 4 goals in the first half in the 4-1 drubbing of the Foxes. I was happy Paul Pogba’s name was on the score sheet but I disagree with him being man of the match. A Daley Blind or Ander Herrera would have been a better choice for most valuable player on the day.

So I recently found out my pastor was a Manchester United fan. During his sermon he said he had promised not to talk about his team anymore this year but he couldn’t hold his thoughts this past Sunday as his sermon that was centered around self-belief. He said he believed the way Mourinho was forced out of Chelsea brought about his lack of confidence and self-belief. He also said Mourinho was afraid of failure and scared to make big decisions but the moment he benched some of the big names of his new club (Man Utd) a bit of that confidence seem to be coming back. Now do I agree with him? Yea to an extent but I won’t delve into that now. I am just happy my pastor is a Manchester United fan, #Shikena.

I look forward to Man U’s Europa league game against Zorya Luhansk of Ukraine on Thursday night. Yes my team is not in the Champions League but still have nothing but love for the Old Lady of Turin (Juventus) and Los Merengues (Real Madrid) and I will catch their games too.

 

Thanks for your time guys………………………… BLESS !!!

The Manchester United Struggles

We Manchester United fans have been so spoilt by Sir Alex Ferguson that we can’t seem to phantom what it means to lose 3 straight games let alone not winning trophies. It is not that Man Utd won trophies every year under Fergie but the former gaffer clearly didn’t play this terribly even in the 2005/2006  season which I considered my worst season as a Man Utd fan under Ferguson. Do I blame us? Hell No.

family-tour-of-19143917

 

The post Fergie era has witnessed the appointment of three managers or let’s say 4 including Ryan Giggs’ temporary stint after David Moyes was sacked before the climax of the 2013/14 season. Louis Van Gaal took over from Giggs in the 2014/15 season with the latter serving as his assistant during the Dutch man’s 2 year stay. Despite winning the FA Cup in his 2nd year after a 4th place finish in his first season Van Gaal was relieved of duties for failing to qualify for the Champions League (I was made to believe that) meaning the Red Devils had to face the rigors of Thursday night football (Europa League).

 

Jose Mourinho

There are 5 top football managers I deeply admire; Zinedine Zidane (you might argue he’s not yet proven), Max Allegri, Antonio Conte, Carlo Ancelloti and Jose Mourinho. Of these 5, 4 were already engaged leaving Jose Mourinho the only choice from my wish list. Along came Jose Mourinho, the proven one, the special one, the happy one , the only one , the next one or whatever you choose to call him. His task was clear, take us back to the glory days and his CV was oozing of raptness so it felt like we had the man (I still feel he is the man for the job) to help us dominate again.

6 games on with 3 consecutive wins and 3 consecutive losses and the whole world wants to tear the young man into shreds. I think we need to be patient with the manager and please don’t chew me if you are a Manchester United fan. The problem might slightly lie with the manager but he needs time to get his selection right.

 

 

manchester-united-marcus-rashford-watford-premier-league-goal_3789001

Wayne Rooney

The 3-1 loss to Watford at Vicarage road saw fans calling for the retirement of Wayne Rooney. The player was at an all time low with his performance on Sunday afternoon. His worst performance in a Manchester United jersey if you asked me. Wayne Rooney still remains my favourite Red Devil but I think its time he has his place on the bench or shipped off to the MLS or even China (He can always come back when those leagues are on their weird break). I also feel Rooney is the reason why £89m pound man Paul Pogba is yet to put up a superb shift, yea I used the word superb because he has just been effective so far. I clearly understand it is difficult to bench your captain or freeze him out of the team but the earlier Mourinho (not that I know any better than him) realizes that Rooney and Pogba won’t work in that midfield of ours the better for the team. 

 

Northampton

Manchester United face Northampton in the 3rd round of the English Football League Cup (wonder why they keep changing the name of the tournament) on Wednesday night. Anything short of a win would not be acceptable. Just like we saw the resilience of the Chelsea side on Tuesday night I would love my  beloved Man Utd team to show same and even more.

 

Take us back to the glory days Jose, I believe in you………………………….. Thank you

 

Thanks for your time guys and sorry for the hiatus.

Throw Back: My Favourite Brazilian

I have seen a lot of football games and though I have loved the game before knowing (not personally) this man but watching him play sealed the love I still have for the sport. This short man is definition of being blessed (skill wise) and yes I call everybody shorter than myself short even if its by half an inch (not to worry I get height intimidated at home). The first time I saw him play was on the night of the 20th of June,1994 when Brazil the country he represented at the U.S. 1994 World Cup played against Russia. I was supposed to be in bed when the game kicked off because there was school the next day (I clearly remember it was a Monday night) but hey I had a cool mum whom was very understanding and knew the love I had for the sport was second to the love I had for her (rest on mom).

That game ended 2-0 in Brazil’s favour and the little man was amongst the scorers. I couldn’t wait to see the next game against Cameroon. I wasn’t disappointed one bit as the little wizard was pumped up all through the 90 minutes against the West Africans. The game ended 3-0 ensuring Brazil secured their place in the second round of the World Cup and the diminutive forward (I always found it weird if strikers were that small) scored one of the goals. I couldn’t wait for Monday (the game was played on a Friday evening) to tell my friends about the little genius. I bugged my brother Big Doz about this tiny wizard’s past on the field and why I had never heard of  him before the U.S. 1994 World Cup. He went on to be crowned best player at the tournament helping his country win their 4th World Cup trophy. He was also named best player in the world at the end of the year.

Born on the 29th of January, 1966 (I was born 29th of December), he was capped 70 times for Brazil scoring 55 goals (very impressive goal to game ratio). He played for 10 clubs with Barcelona, PSV Eindhoven and Vasco Da Gama the most notable of the lot. Let me add that when he returned for a second stint with Vasco Da Gama he single-handedly annihilated my beloved Man Utd (the then European champions, as a matter of fact won the treble the previous year) at the FIFA Club Champions. The game ended 3-1 and he scored twice in 3 first half minutes. 

His name is Romario De Souza Faria, the best Brazilian footballer ever. Did someone say Pele? I am sorry, I never saw Pele play. Thank you for the memories Romario #Legend. 
Thanks for your time guys and stay BLESSED. 
Follow on Twitter @dipoogun and Instagram @dipoogun.

The Big Boss Goes Home

Stephen Okechukwu Keshi aka The Big Boss is one person I really admired and I am not saying this because he died. I wasn’t a big fan of his (I didn’t start watching football till 1994 just like I can’t claim being a Pele fan because I never saw him play) when he played but his influence was felt because I never heard of a Super Eagles tale without the mention of the Big Boss back then in 94. He was amongst my 5 most respected Nigerian footballers ever along with Rashidi Yekini, Finidi George, Samson Siasia and Nwankwo Kanu. He made the list of my top 5 because of his charisma and when you have big brothers like big Doz and big Yomz you are on the right track to hearing authentic football history. 

 

Keshi didn’t only win my admiration as a player even though when I saw him play for the Super Eagles he was barely a starter but he sealed his place as a great in my heart when he won the African Cup of Nations in January of 2013 leading a bunch of relatively unknown players to winning a trophy that eluded the nation for 19 years prior to the success.  He became the second person to win the Nations Cup as player and coach and he’s the only Nigerian coach to have led the country to a Confederations Cup Tourney (a dress rehearsal for the World Cup which is played the year that precedes the World Cup proper). He led Nigeria to the second round of the World Cup which held in Brazil in 2014 and I maintain till date that if Ogenyi Onazi had not been injured Nigeria would have gotten to the semi-final and Keshi would have made history. 

The only disservice I rendered to The Big Boss was supporting The present NFF when they were preparing to come into power (not that my opinion counted). I didn’t know they were out to frustrate the man who had brought back at the least a shade of glory to the country. Well that’s gone and Keshi sure had the last laugh (well for now) because Nigerian football (Super Eagles in particular) has been a joke since his ousting from the National team job. It was clear he had love for the country and the sports. An enviable CV to show (a short coaching career) after qualifying Togo for the 2006 World Cup in Germany and coached them twice (2007-2008 and 2011) after he was sacked for a poor Nations Cup in 2006. He also managed the Malian national team with Nigeria been his last coaching role before his demise. It was rumored he was about to be appointed the coach of Orlando Pirates in South Africa before news of his death filtered in.

The Big Boss lost his wife of over 30 years last year and he’s survived by a mother and four kids. Farewell Stephen Okechukwu Keshi, Nigeria has definitely lost a Soldier. You cannot mention Nigeria’s football history over the last 25 years without making reference to Keshi either as a player or a coach. This man’s name has been etched in history hate him or loathe him.

 

Thanks for your time guys. Cheers

The Next One

We are glad the worst kept secret in football has been put to rest. I wanted to stay off all the noise by not saying anything but I did a piece on Louis Van Gaal (LVG) this should also be permitted. Yeah I am talking about the announcement of Jose Mourinho as the new Manager of Manchester United. The Portuguese Manager who was sacked by Chelsea FC in December 2015 put pen to paper on a 3 year deal to take over as Manager from the sacked LVG days after the latter won the FA Cup. Jose Mourinho who regarded himself as ‘The Special One’ during his first spell at Chelsea in 2004 and ‘The Happy One’ in his second tenure has not adopted a new Moniker yet but for the time being I will tag him ‘The Next One’.

My Take on Mourinho’s Appointment?

I am a very big fan of Mourinho, I am always eager to listen to whatever he has to say after a game win, draw or lose. I am sure the British Press love him too for this reason but is he is really the right man for Man Utd? I don’t think so if I base my sentiments on tradition of the club but he could be a quick fix surely not a long term solution to the current quagmire at Old Trafford. I want to believe Jose Mourinho will deliver silverware (not sure of which) and I am not saying this because he’s done that everywhere he’s been to but his style of play will ensure we don’t ship in too much goals (quote me on this). Yeah I know I had high praises for LVG when he took the reins in 2014, but hiring or firing a coach or manager doesn’t lie in my hands I can only support my beloved club.

The 2016/17 English Premier League (EPL) season is going to be an interesting one no doubt with the advent of Pep Guardiola (Man City), the capture of Antonio Conte by Chelsea, the already existing presence of Jurgen Klopp (Liverpool), Slaven Bilic (Westham), Mauricio Pochettino (Tottenham), Monsieur Wenger (Arsenal) and Jose Mourinho (Man Utd).  I can only wish Rafa Benitez and Newcastle didn’t go down into the Championship because he would have made the league more lit. So we are already hearing the EPL has got the best managers now and the Spanish La Liga breeds the best players. I am sure we all can not wait for the new soccer season to start but first Copa America, Euro 2016 and the Olympics will whet our appetite on what is to come when the European season returns.

 

Thanks for your time guys. Do have a lovely weekend.