Sports News of Friday, 15 December 2017
It is shaping up to be a season to forget for many of Ghana’s contingent in the Premier League as we approach the halfway point of the campaign.
The biggest contingent of Ghanaian players since 2010-11, in a league hugely popular in Ghana, has done little to produce one outstanding talent this term, with players mired in early relegation battles or simply not deemed good enough for their various sides.
Christian Atsu at Newcastle, Jordan Ayew at Swansea City, his brother Andre at West Ham United, Crystal Palace’s Jeffery Schlupp, and Daniel Amartey at Leicester City are having various degrees of difficulties in a season many Ghanaian fans had hoped would provide at least one big success story.
For a few seasons now, Ghanaian fans have cast envious glances at West African neighbours Ivory Coast, Nigeria, and Senegal, all of whom have the added incentive of tuning in to watch the EPL while cheering on prominent countrymen.
Until Pep Guardiola strode into town, Yaya Toure was one of the main men at Manchester City, while Victor Moses had a big hand in Chelsea’s surprise league triumph last season, and Sadio Mane has taken the division by storm at Liverpool in a way that no Ghanaian has even threatened.
These days, the attention on Ghanaian players is firmly at the wrong end of the table.
Of the five players active in the league, four are involved in a relegation scrap.
Newcastle United’s recent defeat by Leicester City has dragged them closer to the bottom three, with Atsu struggling to get into the team at times and largely failing to deliver the kind of incisive performances that helped the Magpies secure promotion last term.
The bottom four has huge Ghanaian interest.
Schlupp has been regular in a defensive role for struggling Crystal Palace, who were bottom of the log until their win on Tuesday night, while the Ayew brothers can have a few sibling conversations about how to beat relegation with their respective clubs in the bottom three.
While club decline does not always suggest individual decline, there is something about the individual performances this season that is likely to lead to some critical questions in Accra and beyond.
The elder Ayew played a blinder as West Ham beat Tottenham Hotspur in the EFL Cup, but for the most part he has struggled in the Premier League, and doesn’t appear to have the faith of David Moyes.
Injuries have meant he has started only seven games and come off the bench anther seven times, with two goals and two assists to show for it.
Both of those goals came towards the tail end of Slavan Bilic’s tenure as coach, although he’s been a peripheral figure under Moyes, only introduced late on in the improved showings against Manchester City and Chelsea.
At least he’s featured more than Amartey, who has played only one Premier League game – and 18 minutes — during the whole season for Leicester City.
Each of these individuals have demonstrated in the past that they can hold their own in the top flight, but this term, they’ve struggled to impress and endured troubled starts to the campaign with their clubs.
For some, fortunes could turn over the coming months, but Ghana fans should brace themselves for at least one of their Black Star heroes to suffer relegation at the season’s finale.