Yes Boss! Why Oliseh is the right man for the Super Eagles Job.

OLISEH COACH

For eons now I have been clamoring that one of the best coaches that fit the bill of being the national coach of the Super Eagles of Nigeria is Sunday Ogochukwu Oliseh. I wished for this not only because I had been a great admirer of the former Super Eagles captain and fierce midfield combatant, it is also because I sensed that he has what it takes to become a successful coach.

So you can imagine how elated I was when the Nigerian Football Federation announced the sack of the former coach, Stephen Keshi, and later announced Sunday Oliseh as head coach. Many were skeptical about this move—citing that Oliseh is not experienced enough to fill in such a big shoe  and should have been tested with the Under-23 Team or the Flying Eagels. But I felt that that is hoax because he is more than qualified to do the job.

Indulge me if you believed Keshi was good enough but for me I never really liked the man as a coach. Let’s get this sorted— I didn’t doubt that Keshi had some football acumen and had shown it with the teams he had handled across Africa, but there is this lax about him—something that is accentuated by the way he chews gum and pick his words while answering queries from the press as if he didn’t want to say them; something that suggests to me that he had taken his job for granted. In Stephen Keshi, I didn’t see a coach who is technically astute or who is really hungry to take our football to the height it once was. It is true that Keshi won the Nations Cup for Nigeria— but it is not just about winning a trophy that has arguably plummeted in standards—it is about the attitude a coach is able to instill in the players who wear the national colors of the most populous black nation and the kind of football they play.

OLISEH 2

Sunday Oliseh has always been a pragmatic guy—a disciplined and fearsome leader. No one would forget the passion he puts on when playing for the super Eagles in his heydays. He was assiduous in the midfield and shrewd with his long accurate passes. It would be criminal to forget the pass that he gave to Emmanuel Amunike in the Tunisia ‘94 Nations cup final, or how he rescued Nigeria from crashing out after he came off the bench in the final moments of the quarterfinal game between Nigeria and Senegal in Nigeria/Ghana 2000 Nations Cup and delivered one of his long trademark passes to Julius Aghahowa, who fired home and sent fans in the National Stadium Surulere rambunctious. That heroics would have been normalcy if not that he was sick that day which was why he was omitted from the starting line up in the first place. When Nigeria would lose the final to the indomitable lions of Cameroon, after coming back from two goals down and forcing a penalty shootout, Oliseh would wail inconsolably like a child whose biscuit was forcefully taken from him as he penitently received the runners-up trophy. The man had passion!

OLISEH

Passion, however, is never enough – competence is everything. The moment Oliseh called it quits with his colorful career as a professional player, having had stints with eight clubs across Europe, one that made him a polyglot and has won him laurels—he started prepping for the next stage of his career—getting his coaching badges, something he shared in his TEDxEuston talk a while ago and I also hinted on in a blog I wrote about Emmanuel Adebayor and his family. Oliseh obtained all the football badges at the highest level and that simply makes him qualified to do the job! Apart from having his dossier filled with coaching certificates, Oliseh also had a stint coaching in a Belgian club. If you look around the world today, you would see that the most promising coaches are those of Sunday Oliseh’s era. Who would forget in a hurry that ferocious winner that Oliseh fired home for Nigeria to beat Spain in the France ‘98 World Cup? The former Juventus and Ajax midfielder battled the likes of Luis Enrique, Fernando Hierro, Andoni Zubizarreta (who conceded that goal!) and others in that game—folks who are now top coaches and football administrators today.

There are many coaches who have succeeded and have never really had any remarkable “experience.” And examples abound: Pep Guardiola, Didier Deschamps, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, Roberto Di Matteo and even Luis Enrique who just won a treble in his first stint in a top club. Forget experience, knowledge is what matters and with the right support, Oliseh should be able to do a good job. He has the discipline and toughness to instill seriousness into any player and having played at the apogee of his trade, he would not be intimidated or compromised by the fortune of his subjects. My only fear is that would he be allowed to the job without interference? Would the NFF support him as they should and not try to frustrate him when he takes decisions that may not tickle them? All the answers we seek lie in the days ahead.

O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.

Dangote buying Arsenal—  The Billionaire’s mindset

DANGOTE SHREWD

Each time I read about the unquenchable desire of the richest man in Africa  and the the 67th richest man in the world to buy one of the most glamorous football clubs in the world—I get somewhat giddy. Whether it’s because the cement and sugar magnate is a Nigerian, or that I have fantasized also buying off Manchester United –in my wildest rumination—I just relish the prospects of Aliko scooping up the Emirates Stadium and adding it to his ever-burgeoning empire. And I have no shred of doubt that he can achieve it.

A lot of reactions have trailed this desire of the world’s second most influential black man, both at home and abroad. Some here have argued that Dangote has shown some unpatriotic tendencies by deciding to take away the billions that he made here and plunge it into an already affluent society. For them, they’ll rather have him invest in the Nigerian league in order to help it grow better.

Some foreigners have also opined that Dangote should use his fortune to better the lots of his people as they reasoned that Arsenal already have billionaire stake holders and another billionaire taking over the franchise would not make any difference in their quest to contest for laurels and honors. Many of them were not even looking at it from a football perspective; they just dread the prospect of a foreigner claiming their once cherished heritage.

Firstly, let me address those fanning the flame from home. I do not think the magnate’s desire has got anything to do with patriotism. No one would require any schooling to know that football is big business these days and it is governed by the basic rules of commerce. There is no sentiment attached. It is a multi-billion dollar empire being run by oligarchs and organized systems. Dangote, of course, would pitch his tent to the Nigerian league if he finds it lucrative. So rather than censuring the man’s desire to acquire Arsenal—a desire fueled by sheer ambition and business prospects(Arsenal is going to be a money spinner and a wise investment) — those who run the Nigerian league should put their house in order and make the league become attractive and a lucrative investment for sponsors—including Dangote. Some years ago, it was all over the news of the rife between the then league sponsors– Glo, and the league administrators such that matters had to be taken to the court! If Dangote had been running his business on sheer sentiments order than shrewd decision-making acumen of a tycoon, he surely wouldn’t have amassed the kind of wealth he had acquired. Get your house in order and watch the money roll in.

DANGOTE AND DAUGHTER

For the foreign Arsenal fans and those who shrug at the prospect of another foreign billionaire coming in because they see their clubs as their heritage, I think they are also in some form of denial. Everyone who follows football knows that most of the top clubs in the Barclay’s Premier League today are owned by foreign oligarchs and dynasties—from Manchester United to Liverpool. It’s the trend and that’s what you get from globalization. I recall many years back when Roman Abramovich showed up to buy Chelsea, not many would have predicted the success his era would bring to the club and subsequently English football. Today, just in about a decade, Chelsea has won almost everything there is to win in club football and they are even the current English Champions! Besides, just in case you didn’t know, Dangote today is twice as rich as Abramovich! He has an ambition to steer Arsenal from the path of winning FA cups as consolation to really competing in Europe and winning the league. Dangote would probably bring the same passion and business adroitness that he puts in his sugar and cement business and put Arsenal on the map once again —after all, which football fan would not want a monopoly of trophies for their club!

EMIRATES

Now let’s look at this whole thing in another way: I believe that are things to learn from Dangote’s desire to buy Arsenal—something I would  put as the billionaire’s mindset and I’ll share a few.

Daring: Of course you’d suspect to be better-off than about 99% of the rest of the world’s population would require some audacity. And Dangote is showing every bit of it. He is reiterating his ambition to own Arsenal— and he is saying it with some cockiness as if Stan Kroenke and other shareholders have no choice than to game. Billionaires don’t see impossibilities and it’s not just because of their deep pockets, it’s because where ordinary mortals cringe and fear the lion in the street—they move on with gusto—something that elevated them them to the billionaire status in the first place.

Sense of Timing: Billionaires are very calculative. It was said that this was not the first time Dangote has shown interest in buying into Arsenal. The first time, he had thought that the stocks were too pricey but now his instinct is telling him to do business because after the building of the Emirates stadium, Arsenal books are pretty healthy now and looks like a good spot to invest in!

They want to leave a legacy: Dangote buying Arsenal would compound his status in the league of billionaires and his fame would skyrocket. I can imagine him coming in every while, sitting at the VIP stand at the Emirates stadium, swathed in his natty suit that beclouds his fortune, and smiling once in a while as Arsenal players mesmerize with their sexy style of play.  As the richest fella in Africa, he cannot be dubbed a local champion by any means, but getting Arsenal would  consolidate his place in the pack of fellow deep pockets!

They inspire others: Success breeds success. No one would be inspired by a man who failed—except that man was able to launch a comeback. It reminds me of one quote I shared on my Facebook page: “Good players inspire themselves, great players inspire others,”— in other words, great people inspire others. I can imagine how many kids in Nigeria and all over Africa would be inspired to be like Dangote if he acquires Arsenal. This would also be a good PR for Nigeria and it would inspire other compatriots home and abroad to make exploits. So carry on, Mr. Dangote— I’ll be rooting for you!

O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.

FOUL! FIFA: Rule Makers or Rule Breakers?

FOUL

 There are two basic laws, they say, that governs the existence of mankind: the rules of God and the rules of man; if you want to survive, don’t break them!

I will not attempt to embark on the onerous task of elucidating the former as it can prove to be daunting and obscure—I will, however, spotlight a little bit on the rules of man.

For example, part of the rules of man is the constitution that governs every sovereign state—one that each citizen within that sovereignty is bound by no matter how powerful or lowly they may be. It should also be in the context of good reasoning to suggest that in the category of the rules of man – are the rules of organizations—one that governs the ethics and conducts of its operations and operators. For example, organizations like The Fédération Internationale de Football Association (FIFA).

Let’s state the obvious so that we don’t err as a function of assumption, that FIFA is the world’s governing football body. It is saddled with the responsibility of managing football affairs in the world and within its member countries. It publishes the 17 fundamental rules that govern football and it regulates the code and conduct of member countries and her word is lord as far as football is concerned on this planet. Having said this however, a wave of consternation and befuddlement assails one when you learn that those who make the law are the ones breaking the law—or aptly, the rule makers have become the rule breakers!

Over the years there have always been allegations of gross misconduct among the ranks of FIFA officials and we’ve read about how FIFA itself would set up investigative committees to look into these charges of corrupt practices and some have been axed for shady deals, the magnitude of the monumental corruption didn’t dawn on many, except folks like the investigative journalist Andrew Jennings who blew the lid off and exposed FIFA misdemeanors , which includes taking bribes to allocate hosting rights to nations, money racketeering, ticketing frauds and secret seven-figure perks for the executives.

Recently, FIFA itself started making more headlines than the stars and football action as the season wounded to an end—the show organizers have become the show men! On May 27, 2015, Swiss authorities closed in on some top FIFA executives who have been under investigation by U.S. officials and they were nabbed from their plush 5-star hotels into the confines of the authorities, now awaiting an extradition to the United States for further trial. It was reported that the U.S. have substantial evidence to prosecute the FIFA helmsmen for a racket totaling about $150 million over a period of 24 years.

When I first heard the news of the FIFA scandal, especially as the flame is being fanned by U.S. authorities, I had reservations stemmed from the notion that this could just be another way the World power is using to get their pound of flesh from FIFA executives for their failed bid to host the world cup in 2022. But that impression gave way when FIFA president Sepp Blatter, the controversial figure at the helm of football governance for almost two decades now, relinquished his mandate just four days after being reelected, citing that “while I have a mandate from the membership of FIFA, I do not feel that I have a mandate from the entire world of football—fans, the players, the clubs, the people who live, breathe and love football as much as we all do at FIFA.” Now when Blatter resigns, it only tells you that the heat is getting more intense!

While trying to find out more what’s going on, I read about the works of an investigative journalist, Andrew Jennings. who first gave the U.S officials a tipoff about the underhanded dealings going on in FIFA in 2006 when he published his book, “FOUL! The Secret World of FIFA: Bribes, Vote Rigging and Ticket Scandals.” This unrelenting old reporter also released a BBC film panorama that same year titled, “The Beautiful Bung: Corruption and the World Cup.” In 2014, Jennings released another book, “Omerta: Sepp Blatter’s FIFA Organized Crime Family”

Jennings Who has the instinct for sniffing shady business is famed for his works as he had worked on stories relating to organized crime. In the 1980s, he dug into bad cops, the Thai heroin trade and the Italian mob. In the 1990s, the 71 year old reporter brought the corruption in the International Olympic committee to full glare. It was his works that unraveled the FIFA machinations and soon enough the gentlemen of the FBI contacted him and proper investigations began. As soon as he started on FIFA’s case, he had become a thorn in their flesh as he would go to press conferences and rather than limit himself to the clichéd queries of your average Joe sports writer—FIFA president got questions like, “‘Herr Blatter, have you ever taken a bribe?’”

South African football association has also come out to deny that they paid $10million in bribes for the hosting of the 2010 World cup but the authorities believe that not everything has been heard about the way FIFA has been awarding hosting rights to nations. In recent times, the controversy surrounding the awarding of hosting rights to Russia in 2018 – a country that doesn’t attempt to hide its homophobia for example, and Qatar in 2022, where the heat is so much that the World cup calendar had to be shifted to the winter, something that is still stirring controversy in its wake as the rest of the football world are agitating that it would upset the football calendar. All these have fallen to the deaf ears of the FIFA bosses—we can now speculate why.

While Sepp Blatter has not been indicted yet, Andrew Jennings believes it’s only a matter of time. Now there’s a likelihood that the FIFA bosses will be going for a playoff in the United States and Jennings have no pity for them, “It’s nice to know that Herr Blatter won’t be able to sleep tonight. And that he’ll finally get to sleep around half past five. And at six o’clock someone will slam a car door outside and he’ll be shooting out of bed and under the bed. Serves him right. He’s not a nice man.” And he hopes to be out there in the United States when the Play offs begin, “I just hope I can afford the airfare to New York and that someone will let me sleep on their couch so that I can be there in the [courthouse] press box to say, ‘Hi guys! It’s been a long run, hasn’t it?’”

As FIFA tries to sanitize its house by a total overhaul of leadership and operation, we lovers of football would only hope that sanity will be brought to the game we love so much and the stigma of these criminal acts of the men who made the rules obliterated from our sport. Let those who break the rules pay the price, and for those guys in FIFA, it’s time up—after all, they should know better that when the referee blows the final whistle, there’s no going back.

 O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.

The Battle For La Orejona (Big Ears)

The Champions League trophy is pictured before the soccer match between Schalke 04 and Valencia in Gelsenkirchen March 9, 2011. REUTERS/Ina Fassbender (GERMANY - Tags: SPORT SOCCER) Picture Supplied by Action Images *** Local Caption *** 2011-03-09T192509Z_01_INA100_RTRIDSP_3_SOCCER-CHAMPIONS.jpg

All is now set for the biggest game of the season, the 60th of Europe’s apex competition and the 23rd season since it was renamed from the European Champions Club’s cup to the UEFA Champions League, holding at the Olympiastadion in Berlin on Saturday evening between the Old lady, Juventus and Blaugrana, FC Barcelona. The two heavy weights will do battle for La Orejona—the trophy nicknamed “the big ears” in Spanish because of the shape of its handle. Who will go home with Europe’s biggest price and be crowned 2015 champions of Europe?

On Saturday night in Berlin, the best of the best will display their propensities before the mammoth crowd that will seat in the sold out 74,475-capacity Olympiastadion, while millions more will be enjoying the action from their TV sets around the world. If there is one game that can define careers and destinies of players and coaches, this is the one.

There is no going back now and no time for elaborate build-ups; come 7:45 P.M., British time , the stage will be cleared and it’s only a matter of time before we will see those whose eyes will be dripping with tears of joy while cackling their delight in the ecstasy of triumph. The time would soon be ripe for us to see those who will lament in hush agony and bemoan their bad luck and the cruelty of fate on them—it is only a matter of time.

UEFA

All eyes are now focused on the fledging career of two promising coaches—Luis Enrique and Massimiliano Allegri. Will Luis Enrique join the ranks of young successful coaches like Josep Guardiola and Frank Rijkaard and add icing on the cake in a season where he had already won the La Liga and the Copa Del Rey with the attacking machinery of Messi, Suarez and Neymar (MSN)? Will he achieve the feat of winning the treble in his first season in charge and even pave the way to collect more trophies like the Super Cup and The World Club Cup?

Massimiliano Allegri, Juve’s boss, is also having the time of his life, winning the Scudetto and the Coppa Italia. He would fancy his chances to lead the Old Lady of Turin to the Champions League final after 12 years of absence at the biggest stage. Remarkably, he has been able to instill the Old Lady with some grit reminiscent of what we used to know of Italian football. That enabled Juventus knock off the champions Real Madrid in a closely contested two-legged game with former homeboy – Álvaro Morata proving to be the nemesis of Los Blancos and their albatross to a lustful agenda of conquering Europe for the eleventh time. Juventus will seek to win the Champions League for the third time in their eighth Champions League final.

In the ranks of the Juventus players is a caustic blend of youth and experience—players who have graced games of this magnitude time after time—Gianluigi Buffon, Andrea Pirlo, Carlos Tevez, Patrice Evra . When it comes to adding youthful verve—they would be relying on the indefatigable Paul Pogba, the ruthless Álvaro Morata and the assiduous Arturo Vidal amongst the rest of the pack. There’s every reason to keep faith with this Juventus outfit.

champions-league-trophy

To emerge on the victor’s podium tomorrow, the Italians would have to trust the Catenaccio – the vintage Italian tactics. They will need to deprive the adroit Barcelona players of space— and though a daunting feat, how well they do this would determine their success at the end of the game.

While I have enumerated what Juventus must do to pop more champagne tomorrow when referee Cüneyt Çakır from Turkey blows the final whistle, no one needs to be told who the clear favorites are. Barcelona has enjoyed one of the finest decades in their rich history and has won 3 Champions League final among an avalanche of trophies. More so, when you have arguably the best football player ever on your side, you have every reason to be confident, and winning trophies become your right. In Berlin tomorrow, all eyes will be on Lionel Messi, the modest size Argentinian and record four-time FIFA Ballon d’Or winner who needs no extra incentive to perform at such grandiose occasion. He would be expected to make endless runs, nutmegs and a series of defence-splitting passes. It would also not be a surprise if he ends up on the scoring sheet and clinch the golden boot; after all he’s found the net in the last two finals of 2009 and 2011 against Manchester United. The Blaugrana also boast of the Brazilian poster boy—Neymar Jr. and the biting Uruguayan danger man, Luis Suarez. One only hopes that the latter would keep his teeth in check at least now that Giorgio Chiellini would not be playing due to injury.

ADIDAS AND UEFA

Soccer fans like me all over the world will be having night pangs and even those who don’t care much are drooling as they await the Champions League anthem filter the air while the players jump out of the dugout and shake out whatever tension that is still harbored in their system. We hope the final lives up to its billing and that it would be one we would remember for years to come.

O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.

http://www.whatfootballteaches.com

So Long, Farewell! (End of a Football Season Reflections)

DROGBA WITH TROPHY

So long, farewell Auf Wiedersehen, goodnight! As the football season reached its climax across Europe last weekend and all the visuals of champions popping champagne in a show of triumph and splendor after a long tedious season dominated the media, I can’t help but recall the music scene in the 1965 classic drama, Sound of Music, where the children of Captain Georg von Trapp entertained their father’s guests while hosting a grand party in their palatial home in a well-choreographed dance while bidding farewell to the encapsulated audience. A simulacrum of the same scene was evoked as some teams celebrated their league triumphs, junketing in the ecstasy of their achievements while other teams who could not help themselves over the course of the season went down to lower divisions— and some others too where promoted in a twist of fortune.

In the English Premier League, it was Hull City who joined the already confirmed Queens Park Rangers and Burnley in the dreaded route to the less lucrative. The new English champions Chelsea finished up with eight points clear of Manchester City after winning their last game against Sunderland and soon sauntered into a delirium as they marked their first league conquest in five years, signaling a sign of a new dawn in the second coming of the Special One. It was a terrific moment as the team that won the championship in 2004-2005 reunited with the current champions. More remarkable was that players like John Terry, Peter Cech and Didier Drogba were all there when this first happened and were there again to witness the highly nostalgic occasion. Mourinho couldn’t help but express his delight over what he thought was a great moment and quickly added that he would like to have a trio of champions from three generations celebrating with him in 2025—hinting how he would love to create a dynasty in the English premier league with the Chelsea outfit. The newly crowned champions later on Monday painted the town blue while parading their trophy with about 70,000 fans trooping out to see their team show off their deserved trophies.

DROGBA 2

In Spain, the Catalan giants too emerged victorious after clinching the title last week and drawing their last game against Deportivo de La Coruña. Luis Enrique’s men are having the time of their life as they could still do the treble this season with two more final games for them in the Copa Del Rey and Champions League. It was however a time to say good bye for veteran midfielder Xavier “Xavi” Hernández who tearfully ended his 25 years relationship with Barcelona. The Spaniard would be joining Qatari side Al Sadd.

Archrival Real Madrid gave Barcelona a good push and only finished just two points behind the competition, with Cristiano Ronaldo clinching the Pichichi with 48 league goals and 61 in all competition, his personal best in a season. The heroics of the world’s best soccer player, however, did not impress Fiorentino Perez and the principalities at the Bernabeu as Carlo Ancelotti, the man who helped the Los Blancos grab the much coveted 10th Champions League triumph, graciously known as La Decima and Copa Del Rey last season suffered the same fate his predecessors have had to endure in the palms of Real Madrid’s board room who can’t take the smack of a trophyless season in the chin!

XAVI

Stephen Gerald had announced his imminent departure to the MLS after a glittering career with the Reds and couldn’t depart in a way he would have wanted as he ended on the wrath of an unforgiving Stoke City side, albeit still with a goal to his name. Although Stephen won everything with Liverpool except the Premier League which literally ‘slipped away’ from his hands when he slipped to give Demba Ba a chance to dent what appeared to be his closest chance to the crown. That would, however, not affect the reputation of this brilliant sportsman who deserves all the accolade he is getting.

GERRARD

Didier Drogba also bid farewell after his successful second spell with the new generation Chelsea. The big Ivorian consolidated his legendary status at the club as he contributed his quota when he was called upon this season to do the job. It was always going to be difficult to match the prowess of his younger years when he tore apart teams in the premiership but his coach—Jose Mourinho—lauded the influence he had on the younger players in the team this term.

Elsewhere, Former teammate Frank Lampard fired home a trademark 10-yarder against Southampton as he also departs for the MLS.

FRANK LAMPARD

As seasons end like this and heroes depart, it reminds you that whatever has a beginning must surely have an end. Things will never remain the same. Some will move on and some will remain. Some will relegate and some will triumph. No matter the situation we find ourselves, however, we must always look forward to a new season—a new phase in our lives when we can become better. Yesterday’s success or failure is no longer valid—a new dawn will come when we will hopefully rewrite our histories for the better!

O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.

Adebayor and Family: Lessons We Can Learn

ADEBAYOR AND MUM

I read with uttermost dismay the other week the post Seyi Emmanuel Adebayor (SEA), the lanky Togolese International and Tottenham Hotspur forlorn striker wrote on his Facebook page where he made some blistering comments about the closest members of his own family— with mother and siblings all getting a scathing scorecard in the expository account. For an international figure like Adebayor, a one-time African player of the year and a very successful footballer who has played for the biggest clubs in Europe, one would have expected such family matters to be kept within the family circles and expect any crack to remain at a speculation level on the pages of gossip tabloids, but for him to go on and post the milieu on his Facebook page that has almost a million followers, which by extension filtered to the whole football circles and beyond, is an anomaly of some sort. Even then one could sense that he must have reached the Rubicon, so putting it out there for the whole world to see and judge, never mind the ignominy, seemed like the most commonsensical thing to do.

If you are a Caucasian or yours is a culture that is self-sufficient, you may not appreciate what is going on here. How could one be responsible not just for his wife and children, but for his grown up siblings, father and mother and all the people he said he looks after? Should he do all that just because he makes much more than the average Joes that surround him? Well that should not surprise anyone who’s African. Ours is a culture that is akin to the early man. We live in communities— and we are committed to one another. Once you’re rich, you’ve signed up to look after others even if they are old enough to look after themselves. SEA mentioned that he pays for his brother’s children’s school fees! That’s the Africa that I know. You never walk alone and there’s a colloquial language for that: ‘if you chop alone, you go die alone!’

ADEBAYOR AND CAR MANSION

While the culture of giving back and looking after your family and kinsmen is typically an African thing—or by extension, a human thing, especially when you go home with the kind of pay professional footballers go home with, woe betide you if you’re surrounded by sharks! Now, many Africans in diaspora just like SEA would agree with this. They have a responsibility to save the world, save their family from poverty, and saddled with that responsibility, they set out on this mission—go out there and get the sizzling dollars. When they get to the freezing streets of London and New York, they carry along with them the fate of many dependents back home.

But more often than not, while many get what they hope for coming abroad—the basic amenities of life: electricity, shelter, food and all other infrastructures, they’ll have to “earn” a wage and pay for what they enjoy. By the time they deduct their expenses from what’s left—there’s little or nothing left to send back home. But in spite of this hurdle, many still go out of their way to get something across to loved ones—ask the banks who manage money transfer schemes.

ADEBAYOR BABA

Getting back to SEA—the one goof that I have deduced from his vitriol is that he’s handed too much cash to his family and those folks have taken it for granted. And I also sense that SEA is not managing his wealth properly. If you read through the story, Adebayor revealed that he has a house in Ghana worth $1.2 Million and he was surprised when he visited to know that his sister had rented out the house without his consent. The left side of my brain is thinking: ‘How can you tie up $1.2 million property and it’s not yielding cash for you in the first place?!’ And should that kind of property be in the custody of your family members or a reputable property management company? Adebayor also talked about giving lots of money to his parents and siblings and yet they didn’t use it for what they said they would use it for. Why would they when they have an uber rich football star who can reload them with cash at the snap of the finger?

Many Africans living abroad fall for this goof— they send money home to their friends and family and they expect them to help them build a house (very common) or invest in a business. A good number of them get their hands burned and lose their relationships with such tacky arrangements because more often than not, the cash would be used for everything other than what it was allotted for—it’s a no brainer.

Last December, Super Eagles of Nigeria ex-captain and Nigerian international, Sunday Ogochukwu Oliseh gave a talk on TEDxEuston titled Education Made the Difference and he shed some light on his life as a footballer—his glittering career, managing his wealth and life after retirement. I believe Adebayor and a lot of people could use the staccato of knowledge he dished out in that one. One day, we would all retire whether we are a super star or an average Joe, living in London or Timbuktu. If we don’t manage our wealth well—we’ll be in for the shock of our lives!

Here are some of the points Oliseh stressed in that talk which can be very useful.

  • Plan for Life after retirement: Adebayor and a few African players love to live large—you can’t blame them—they’ve made a lot of money and coming from an indigent background, may be they have the right to wear their worth on their sleeves and over their necks! But that’s beside the point. Oliseh said in that talk that you should plan for life after retirement because your family would still depend on you afterwards. So continue educating yourself and find new ways to add value. For Oliseh, he metamorphosed into a coach, a consultant, Television pundit and a FIFA technocrat.
  • Use your lazy time: Oliseh emphasized that footballers have what he calls ‘Lazy time’—when they are not really doing much. I think we all can find our ‘lazy time’ too. He admonishes that you should plug into something useful rather than fritter away time. Read or watch something that would add value to you. In short, enlarge your capacity.
  • Don’t give money to your family members! This is the one I love! Don’t just throw the cash at your family, set them up in business. Don’t give them fish, teach them how to fish!
  • Save! Save!! Save!!! The former Juventus and Ajax midfielder stressed that you are as rich as what you save, especially when you make a lot of money like footballers do (or maybe when you make less… I add!).

I hope we all learn a thing or two from this and make the right choices!

 O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.

The “Special” Apprentice and his Philosophical Master

LVG AND MOURINHO 2

Resurging English giant, Manchester United and league leaders Chelsea will lock horns in a promising fixture on Saturday April 18 at the Stamford Bridge. Both teams have been in a good run of form in recent times and would probably set up another scintillating fixture. Manchester United, on their part, got back to winning ways after crashing out of the FA Cup to second place and in- form Arsenal and have gotten more points than all their rivals in the top four fixtures this season which could just have secured them a place in the prestigious top four spot and consequently, a triumphant entry back to the Champions league—something that the board used to plan their budget this year. The Blues hasn’t been the all-firing team we’ve known all season but their fans are not complaining as long as they continue to show the resilience of a champion that has characterized their recent games. Their ability to extract result out of a naughty fixture has kept their rivals at bay and set up a catch-me-if-you-can ending to the league, with just 7 games to cross the finish line. In the past four games or so, Chelsea has shown nerves of a team whose title is theirs to lose—but they’ve also been remarkable in the way they’ve grounded out results and how they have edged out their opponents with the slimmest of margins. Later today, they’ll face a Manchester United that is beginning to find its form and adapt to the philosophy of Iron clad Louis Van Gaal, but would be going to Stamford Bridge depleted, having lost in-form Michael Carrick, Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo and Phil Jones to injury and still have Johnny Evans serving the last part of his six- game ban.

Beyond the tantalizing end-to-end stuff that fans would be anticipating in this kind of fixture, the one thing that would add some pizazz to the game as the players file out from the dugout would be the two managers at the helm—Jose Mourinho and Louis Van Gaal. These duo are two big personalities in their own right and have great respect for each other. Louis cut his teeth in the early nineties when he molded a very young Ajax team to become a domestic and European force, winning the Champions League and also adding a runners-up medal. Interestingly, the Ajax team back in the day featured great Nigerian players like the artistic Kanu Nwankwo and the finishing—George Finidi. Beyond the Nigerian connection, his team paraded great Dutch players like: Clarence Seedorf, Marc Overmars, Patrick Kluivert, Michael Reiziger, Jari Litmanen, Edwin van der Sar. Van Gaal developed this possession football which he would later import to Barcelona along with some of his Ajax players. It was there that he crossed path with a young translator—Jose Mourinho.

Jose Mourinho, the man who never had a great time playing football and whose talent was even doubted studied Sports Science in Technical University of Lisbon and attended coaching courses in Britain. Sometime in the early nineties, the polyglot Mourinho became an interpreter for Sir Bobby Robson at Sporting CP and Porto and when Robson got the job to manage Barcelona, he knew “I’m not going to go to Barcelona ill-prepared, am I? I knew taking Jose was going to be an advantage to me, to Barcelona, and of course for him it was wonderful.”

LVG AND MOURINHO 1

As Robson later left the Catalan giants, he left back Jose Mourinho and the guy who took over the job was Louis Van Gaal. When Van Gaal stepped in, it wouldn’t be long for him to decipher the asset in the promising young Mourinho: “His analysis was good. You could see he understood football.” In no time, Jose’s job specification had to change and he was elevated to become a part of the coaching staff. Robson had also noticed the same thing and had even confessed that Mourinho does better analysis than experienced analysts with world cup experiences. LVG, a former school teacher who loves fine details and rigorous analysis, would relish Mourinho’s presentations. Being a man who is not afraid to give youths chances— it was Louis Van Gaal who first gave Mourinho a shot at top level football management as he made him to take charge of friendly games at Barcelona. It was here that Mourinho first learnt how to rub shoulders with larger-than-life players as he was able to coach a galaxy of stars like: HristoStoitchkov, Rivaldo, Luis Figo, and the real Ronaldo.

When Mourinho was given the offer to become an assistant coach in Benfica under Jupp Heynckes, it was Van Gaal who told him to “Pick up the telephone and tell the Benfica president, if he wants you to assist Jupp Heynckes, no. If he wants you to be the manager, I will take you to the airport and you go, because you are ready for that. No more assistant. When you leave me, it is to be a top manager.”

Van Gaal would later express that he was always elated to see Mourinho become the phenomenon that he became. It was this managerial spell that culminated to his rising to become the top coach at FC Porto— where his stock rose so high— clinging the European title and metamorphosing into the Special One. His first stint at Chelsea then took Mourinho to the echelons of his career as winning titles now became second nature. As fate would have it, when Mourinho left to manage Internazionale and grabbed his second European title, it was at the expense of his master who had sent him a text when he first qualified for that final that “I will be waiting for you in Madrid.” The special apprentice that time had become a grand master in his own right and the philosophical master never bore acrimony as his boy denied him of a treble in his spell with Bayern Munich. He knew that these things happen and heartily congratulated Jose.

LVG AND MOURINHO 3

Mourinho knows he gleaned a good deal of his football acumen from Louis Van Gaal and while they vie for the same objective and compete in the same space, it hasn’t dampen the camaraderie that had grown between the two and you could sense that he would be eternally grateful for the man who believed in him when every other person thought he was nothing but just a translator.

I as a Manchester United fan would only hope that the master, like the precarious Kung fu masters, would have saved one last kick in his books to knock off the student who has become too good for his master’s liking!

O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.

The Power of Ronaldo!

POWER OF RONALDO

When Cristiano Ronaldo won the FIFA Ballon d’Or for the third time last January in Zurich, I had planned to write something about him but I was entangled with a deadline and by the time I tried to release my post, it had been overshadowed by events so I discarded it. But I did not despair; I knew the enfant terrible would do something else that would steal the headlines again—I am no wise guy, CR7 does it all time. This time it was in last weekend’s La Liga game against Granada where Real Madrid woke up from slumber and trounced the lowly side by 9 goals to 1, with Ronaldo chunking up five goals from the lot, the first of his career. In so doing, he usurped his archrival Lionel Messi as the highest goal scorer in the La Liga and summed his tally to 37 league goals—48 goals in all competition this season. En route this record-breaking feat, Ronaldo has now scored 31 hat-tricks in his career, a total of Ronaldo 299 (some say 300) league goals for Real Madrid. It would only be a matter of time before he will bypass the records of Alfredo De Stefano—the ingenious Argentine that mesmerized the stage in his days, and former homeboy, Raul.

One cannot help but marvel at how the 30 year old richest and most famous football player on the planet continues to shatter records and keep himself motivated year in, year out. From the moment Manchester United played against Sporting Lisbon and encountered a spindly but precocious teenager who kept racing down the flanks, giving John O’Shea a reason to worry about his waistline, the one said to have been christened after America’s former President Ronald Reagan, has never looked back. Sir Alex Ferguson who has been in the business of bringing on talented young players all his years couldn’t be more impressed as he ensured that Cristiano Ronaldo was shopped for a tidy £12.24m.

CR7 BRAND 2

The talent and technical prowess of Cristiano was clear for everyone to see from the outset. His endless step-overs and lightning speed was a constant threat for defences in the premiership, and Ronaldo arriving Carrington training complex at 18 was full of promises of a prodigious foreign talent but the magnitude to which that sheer propensity will unfold was still not clear. What the staunchest follower of Ronaldo would never predict was that he was going to transform into a physical specimen for billboards and magazine covers, become the most famous soccer player ever—statistics confirms that Ronaldo’s followership on Facebook, Twitter has ballooned to over 155million and 84% percent of the world’s population is aware of Ronaldo. Ronaldo is now a walking advertising platform as you can be assured that from the crown of his head to the sole of his feet has been booked. He is also the richest guy in the lot, with a fortune of £152m, don’t just bother to envy him!

RONALDO ADVERTISING BILLBOARDToday, if I don’t hurry to post thus blog, Ronaldo might be up to something else tomorrow and this would become stale. But I am not here for ballyhooing about CR7 or stating the obvious—I am concerned about what makes Ronaldo tick and what can make me—tick— as well. So how does Ronaldo do it?

Ambition

“I am an ambitious player with only one objective: victory for my team.”

When Ronaldo first jetted into Carrington, the training centre of Manchester United, he had the promising talent no doubt, but there was something different about him from the other talents that came before or shortly after him—he had the ambition to be the best. He had soaked in the champion’s mentality that permeated the ambiance in Old Trafford—seeing great players like Ryan Giggs and Paul Scholes who formed the invincible class of 92—lads who dazzled and conquered the premier league and did the treble years before, and being bequeathed with the iconic no 7 shirt—an adored vacuum that has been posterized by the likes of George Best, Eric Cantona and David Beckham, his resolve, mingled with this inspiring scenario, instilled the fillip to attain immortality. Developmental coach Mike Clegg who worked with Ronaldo in his heydays said, “I look at the other players who come and go with talent. Nani and Anderson both came in during 2007 at a similar age to Ronaldo, but the difference was astronomical. The difference was the understanding and the knowledge of how to become the best. Ronaldo was above everyone else.”

The training Ground

“He’s fantastic, and the way he works, speaks for itself,” said Mourinho. “He’s not the kind of big status who sleeps in the shadow of the status. No, he’s a boy that works very hard every day, lots of ambition, he wants to improve all the time.” – Jose Mourinho.

Ambition is nothing—hard work is everything! When the good-looking Ronaldo eventually made his debut against Bolton —his talents shone through like the morning sun. There was no doubting that his future beamed promises yet he was only a scrawny teenager and featherweight—many times succumbing to the muscularity of the English Premiership bullies. That soon gave way as Ronaldo found his way to the gym and made it his second home—helping himself with the avalanche of dumbbells, cardiovascular machines and medicine balls, molding himself into an athletic specimen with the vigor of an Olympic champion. CR7 also takes himself through his pace like a sprinter and he developed a lethal speed with his build and has combined that beautifully with endless practice. It is a common sight to see Cristiano Ronaldo stay back for extracurricular training regimes—practicing free kicks and some ball movements. Cristiano also metamorphosed from a fiery winger who managed a few assists and a few goals a season to a goal machine who can find the back of the net with all the contours of his body.

YOUNG RONALDO

 

I want to be the best

“People think Cristiano is flash and has an ego, but he is really down to earth. He wants to be the best – he doesn’t think he is the best – but he wants to be and that explains his continual drive to be better all the time.”— Paul Clement, Assistant coach, Real Madrid.

Ronaldo’s penchant to always improve his crafts is second to none. In spite of the collection of trophies and individual awards that has coloured his career timeline so far, he is always saying that “I feel an endless need to learn, to improve, to evolve, not only to please the coach and the fans, but also to feel satisfied with myself.” He’s never satisfied with the best and that has been the story of his record-breaking career—he continues to shatter his own record yet he is not relenting. Ronaldo celebrated his 30th birthday a few months back, and while many have reckoned that his stock may soon begin to plummet, as characterized by the careers of other greats who have fallen sharply to a decline once they attained that age, others are keeping faith with the Portuguese Captain to defy the odds with his strict diet regimes and recovery workout exercise that he is famed for.

I am unstoppable

“Your love makes me strong, your hate makes me unstoppable.”

There is this notion that goes round about Cristiano Ronaldo is a conceited guy—he wants the camera to focus on him—he believes he is so good. But I think that what people see as pride many times is a harmless show of confidence—needed for peak performance and that is the hallmark of great guys—not just footballers. I wrote in my first book, The “OBAMA” in You! how Barack Obama believed in his own rhetoric as he gunned for the office of the president of the United States. President Obama told his close friend Martin Nesbit on the eve of his sell-out speech to the Democratic convention in 2004 that “my speech is pretty good.” In the same vein CR7 has always reiterated to friends and foes alike that “your love makes me strong, your hate makes me unstoppable.”

O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.

One Game At a Time!

TROPHY

There are just about eight games left in the English Premier League and the quarter-finals for the UEFA Champions Europe have been fixed—everything is now racing towards the climax of the season. While some leagues are almost a done deal for the league leaders like the Bavarians in Germany and the Old Lady of Italian football, some still leave room for some speculation. In spite of the fact that the Catalan Giants saw the better of the Galácticos in last Sunday’s El Clásico and have gone 4 points clear now, I think that league is still not in the kitty.

Manchester United had their pound of flesh over Liverpool at Anfield with another good performance after walloping Tottenham Hotspur with an emphatic 3-0 a week before. The Red Devils dismissed their archrival courtesy of a spectacular show from Juan Mata whose two finishes were made in heaven. In the second half of that game, outgoing midfielder and club cult hero Stephen Gerald earned some ignominy when he was introduced to the game in the second half and managed to last for just 46 seconds before going for a rash tackle on Ander Herrera that left the Spaniard limping for a while. Although, Daniel Sturridge pulled a goal back, It was a sweet completion of the revenge double over Liverpool this season as United suffered similar fate with them last term; hopefully, Louis Van Gaal’s men can go ahead and qualify for the Champions League next season.

For the league leaders Chelsea, the English Premier League is theirs to lose and the prestigious silverware will be going to Stamford Bridge for the first time in five years if they are able to keep their focus. The Blues did themselves a grand favour by acing Hull City last weekend, having lost a two goal advantage. A strike from Loïc Rémy in the last quarter of the game fumbled by the Hull goalkeeper was all that was needed to take them a step further to their imminent destination. It is worthy of note, however, to say that Chelsea’s form has not been the best lately and they’ve not been crushing teams with the steam and vigor they started the league with. That could be owed to fatigue though, but having won the Capital One Cup and exited the FA Cup and the Champions league, Jose Mourinho’s troop can now focus on wrapping up the league.

 REMY

                          Relief! Loic Remy’s striker gave Chelsea six points cushion

Jose Mourinho is a manager who knows how to win the league and would be fancied to lead them over the murky waters in the remaining nine games that they have. He sure would marshal his team toward taking the games as they come and not just setting their minds on winning the league and allowing a blizzard of pressure to flood in. After the last game, he was cautious to say, “I’m not pretty sure, I’m pretty confident. I believe in my players, I believe that we can do it but I know it’s difficult.”

MOURINHO

                                           Mourinho is experienced enough to take his troop to the finishing line

Talking about winning leagues, Sir Alex Ferguson, the legendary coach of Manchester United who won a record 13 league titles in his trophy-laden reign at Old Trafford in his first autobiography “Managing My Life,” talked about not setting your eyes too far ahead when you are trying to achieve a goal. It was the year 1999 when it was becoming apparent that his team could do the treble and the press went agog, fantasizing on how Manchester United was going to achieve this historic feat. When the Boss was confronted with the impending prospect, he recalled that he had nothing to say that was distinct from a shopworn comment of a bluffing football manger.

We were now leading in the premiership and were in the semifinals of both the European cup and the FA Cup, and press speculation about the treble had begun in earnest. Those who asked us to comment on our chances of completing it knew the answer in advance. How could we say anything other than that we would deal with one match at a time? It is better to be clichéd than crazy. Letting the mind skip over immediate assignments and on to future possibilities is a good way to wreck concentration. A rock climber who starts thinking about hand-holds twenty feet above him will take a short-cut to the ground. When I did think two or three games ahead, it was not to conjure up dreams of triumph but with the practical purpose of working out the team changes that might keep us fresh for the recurring challenges produced by pressing forward on several fronts.

TREBLE

                                                 Sir Alex Ferguson and his treble-winning squad

I could also relate with Fergie’s stance on one particular note. My team and I have been trying to set up a website for my forthcoming book What Football Teaches About Life. It was not going to be your run-of-the-mill book website; it was supposed to be a resource site where we could useful lessons from football to highlight how to achieve self and corporate goals. I agonized over how I wanted the site to be topnotch from the outset with all the stuff in place: a sleek homepage, a resource page reeling with tons of EBooks and rich articles from impeccable sources. I also wanted us to have our podcast running, with interviews from elite soccer players, coaches and other relevant people. I wanted everything to be ready at once and for weeks we got stuck in this impasse which was compounded with a false start when the first web designer we got opted out and left us in the lurch. What happened at first was that we had our eyes set on winning the trophy rather than taking it one game at a time. Then one day it hit me like a pang—building a website is like building a house—you’ll take it from the foundation to the roofing— then you can talk about adding the finishing. You usually don’t erect the house in one day except a genie appears before you and ask you to make a wish!

football-teaches-cover2

After that time, I decided that we drop our treble-winning ambition and just focus on our next game without any bells and whistles. That gave me the energy to concentrate and give out the job to another designer. This time around we were lucky to get a topnotch guy and our website is up! Fine, it’s still a work in progress and you can’t even download the free chapter promised yet!  But we’ll build it gradually— the way champions win games— and hopefully, we can get the result that we want.

O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.

The Lionel Messi Show: Thoughts From The UEFA Champions League Second Round

MESSI SHOW FOR REAL

The intriguing second round of the UEFA Champions league was concluded on Wednesday night and eight teams scaled the hurdle for a place in the quarter- finals of the competition. For the second time in three seasons, no English team made it to the last eight as flag bearers, Arsenal, Chelsea and champions Manchester City all crashed out of Europe’s elite competition in one fell swoop.

Only last week, Real Madrid qualified after enduring a scare at the return leg to Schalke when they lost uncharacteristically by 3-4 at the Santiago Bernabéu Stadium. The job had been done however in the first leg with a 0-2 victory and Los Blancos would hope that they regain the form that made them secure the much coveted La Decima last season.

FC Shakhtar Donetsk had a crash course in football rudiments with instructions coming from the ruthless FC Bayern München side that are sizzling favorites to win the competition. Pep Guardiola’s men were always going to be the favorites to see through the tie, but a 0-0- first leg shielded what was to unfold at the Olympics stadium where the Bavarians put seven goals past their foe to set a UEFA  Champion’s league record.

FC Porto dismissed FC BASEL 1893 by 4-0 to go through with a 5-1 aggregate despite the fact that the former were not with their talisman Jackson Martínez. The first leg had ended 1-1 but goals from Yacine Brahimi, Hector Herrera, Casemiro and Vincent Aboubakar saw them through to the quarterfinals only for the second time since winning the trophy in 2004.

PSG had their pound of flesh over Chelsea after grinding out a 2-2 draw. All Chelsea needed was a scoreless draw on their own soil but their reluctance to take the attacking initiative and penchant for being cautious in the vintage Mourinho style saw them shockingly draw with PSG.

PSG                                           PSG had the last laugh over Chelsea in last week’s game

This week…

Arsenal FC had made a meal of their fixture with AS Monaco in the first leg at the Emirates stadium where they went down 1-3 and the return leg was always going to be a workload. The Gunners, however, buoyed by their FA Cup triumph and a 3-0 dismissing of West Ham, needed to match their last league performance on a foreign ground to go through. The Londoners’ intent was blatant from the blast of the whistle as they showed purpose and took the game to their host with a flurry of attacking displays while putting some good shifts in their rearguard. A goal from Olivier Giroud and Aaron Ramsey, however, wasn’t enough to make them see through a Monaco side that was hanging on but qualified through an away goal.

MONACO                                    Aaron Ramsey scored the second goal for Arsenal but it was not enough!

Atlético de Madrid is “a team that sometimes don’t play well but put their soul into the game,” the charismatic Diego Simeone stressed as they wriggled through a 3-2 dramatic penalty shootout against German outfit, Bayern Leverkusen, defying their history of bad lucks in penalty shootouts in European competitions. Atleti had lost the first leg in Germany through a solitary goal but evened things out through a deflected first half strike by Mario Suárez .

Juventus saw off what was left of a Dortmund’s side that hasn’t much going for it lately with a 0-3 Carlos Tevez inspired victory to go through. The Old lady had won the first leg  2-1 as they cruised to their second quarter-finals in three years.

Finally, welcome to the one and only Nou Camp; if you are just joining us, it’s another enthralling episode of the Lionel Messi Show! If there’s still anyone left on the planet that is still on tenterhooks about the genius of Messi, Wednesday night was your answer. Forget Ronaldo, Messi is the World’s best player – emeritus. The little frame Argentine who fessed up that he had a bad year last year by his own monstrous standards, continued from where he left off at the Etihad stadium, instigating a wave of attacking football and tricky nutmegs that Pep Guardiola  found tantalizing as he watched on from the stands. It was a night where the Catalans were rampant, with their talisman in the mood for party.  In the first half, Messi’s artistic trademark pass from the far right found Ivan Rakitic in the box who  and he chested coolly before tipping over Joe Hart to give Barca 1-0 victory and see them cruise to the quarterfinals for the umpteenth time. Manchester City’s keeper, Joe Hart was the only reason the scoreline was reasonable as he put up a virtuoso performance to stop Messi, Suarez and Neymar from scoring, never mind Sergio Agüero’s spot kick miss. .

MESSI SHOW                                 You’ve had enough! Joe Hart made  brilliant  saves to stop magical Messi

So what were the things I picked from the round of sixteen of the UEFA Champions League? You have it:

Don’t do the right things at the wrong time. Arsenal left it too late and their effort to salvage something on Tuesday night, though commendable, was sheer damage control. They had thought fate had finally smiled on them when they were drawn against French side and were confident to go through, having avoided the precarious Bayern Munichs and Barcelonas of our time. But at the first leg they weren’t really in it to win it— and before anyone could scream Jack Wilshere, their time was up!

Manage pressure. The Special One who couldn’t couch his frustrations had said that his side wasn’t able to manage the pressure of playing at home and being a man up— who would have thought that those seeming advantages could give you pressure! But it really proved to be an albatross and the Blues for once, sank into the tides of the pressure when they were expected to stay afloat!

Don’t play into the hands of the competition—Manchester City loves to play attacking football—that is the philosophy of Coach Manuel Pellegrini, but there’s only one team that’s always going to attack when you play against the Catalan giants— don’t ask me which team, ask  Sir Alex! I thought Manchester City could have made it more compact and stifle play but they chose to sell Ice to the Eskimos by playing attacking football with Barcelona!

Never give in.—PSG were one man down as Zlatan Ibrahimovic was controversially sent off. But they refused to give up against an uncompromising opposition and gave all that they had. When Chelsea eventually scored in the tail end of the game, they responded with their own goal—not once— but twice. Now that takes some wits and they were well rewarded with a place in the quarter-finals!

The quarter-finals draw is on Friday March 20 and it promises to be another scintillating adventure. See you then!

O.P. Philips is a freelance writer/entrepreneur. He is the author of The “OBAMA” in You! His new book, “What Football Teaches About Life” will be released soon.