Citi Sports editor Nathan Quao puts out his column and this week, he looks at Manchester United’s humiliating loss at Chelsea and the brilliance of Mamelodi Sundowns, new African club champions.
Poor, poor, poor Manchester United
5 years after watching Manchester United lose 6-1 to Manchester City at Old Trafford, I witnessed my dear Red Devils wilt in disgraceful way at Chelsea.
I could not believe what I watching. It was amazing to see player fail to focus very early into a very important match. It was supposed to be a match that demanded the best of ability in terms of play and drawing from the occasion.
It is something Liverpool seem to be very good at. They will look at the size of the match and give it everything that have. Arsenal and Chelsea also show that trait sometimes but it seems Manchester United have forgotten this important thing.
My followers on Twitter say I go over the top with my criticism of Daley Blind and Chris Smalling but when your defenders are asleep after 29 seconds, do they deserve praise? No.
How they made it as professionals especially Smalling really surprises me and I am not joking about this.
Chelsea, on the other hand, deserve all praise. They knew what they wanted to do and I particularly applaud their calmness about the context of Mourinho’s return. They kept their intentions to themselves and revealed it all on the pitch.
They placed in a very uncomfortable spot and they exploited it to the very end.
Do I think Man United will sort itself? Yes. Will it take time? Yes. Should the manager be fired? No.
But it does not mean that he is not part of the problem. He needs to decide on what he wants to do with Paul Pogba.
He also needs to stop making some of the silly errors in judgement.
Morgan Schneiderlin is sitting on the sidelines for the club whereas he could be doing a specialist’s job in place of Fellaini.
Michael Carrick may not be young but he does have the ability to provide stability and balance to the team’s midfield.
Plus, he can pass the ball really well. He needs to have some more time on the field.
Henrikh Mkhitaryan should start figuring more in the manager’s plans. I do not know what the issue is but at the monent, we need to see what the players can do and the manager has to carve out a plan that draws everyone’s strengths.
And he should stop post-game tete-a-tete sessions with opposition managers about respect and all that. He is not clean so he cannot ask for proper behaviour from other coaches.
He needs to get on with his job and win matches. Winning will earn you respect.
I will take solace in Gary Neville’s words as quoted by ESPN:
“When you are a Manchester United fan for 30 years, for 50 years, you are going to have difficult times like these and you have to accept when they come along and be mature about it.
“They have got a fantastic manager who has been proven in every league in Europe nearly, and they have to allow him to do his job methodically over the next two to three years, get it right.”
However, we need to react but maybe that will wait because Manchester City are coming back to Old Trafford on Wednesday. I do not want to be a prophet of doom but with Smalling, Blind and Rojo as options in central defence, I guess Aguero will score five and De Bruyne, Gundogan, and Sterling will get three each.
I am quite serious and honest about that.
Top marks to Liverpool who looked really strong against West Brom in their 2-1 win. Their football will take them far this season. Their pressing style of football as taught by Jurgen Klopp demands a lot but the absence of European football gives them time to rest and recover for every major battle.
I cannot support them for obvious reasons but Philipe Coutinho and Sadio Mane are good for my Fantasy Premier League team. They do keep the points coming in.
Pride of Pretoria
I bet everyone supporting Mamelodi Sundowns will be overjoyed this morning. They will feel a huge sense of pride and they will watch the finals again and again and again.
They deserve to be happy because Sundowns looked the part from the group stages. Every time I listened to their coach, Pitso Mosimane, he gave the impression that he yearned to be an African champion and his players believed in that.
Their progression to the African throne has been very natural, in my opinion. They became South African champions in one season and in the next, they had the look of a team built to test themselves against opponents on the continent.
Of course, they was a sense of fate in their story.
They were kicked out of the CAF Champions League qualifiers, they fell into the Confederations Cup where they lost to Medeama in the final play-off round but thanks to an error by AS Vita of Congo DR, Sundowns found themselves back into the Champions League.
However, they seemed primed to take the second chance and their goalkeeper Dennis Onyango said to me that they were grateful for the opportunity and they wanted to go on win the trophy.
That desire showed in the 3-0 win in the first leg of the final and that just about sealed the triumph.
I was very impressed with the output of winger Keegan Dolly and forward Khama Billiat.
Those two worked together and I hope they will be around for a while before the lure of European football takes them away.
I pray Ghanaian clubs take a lesson from the Sundowns story and see that to become the best, you need to have a good team, a determined spirit and loads of money.
That one is, perhaps, the most important thing because it provides the setting for a trophy.
Follow me on Twitter @nathan_quao