Category Archives: Biz Football
Unlike most Arsenal fans, I was not agitated or angry over Robin Van Persie’s exit from the Emirates in the summer of 2012. What engaged my mind was the fact that a major rival had gained a supreme attacking firepower with Arsenal being the loser in the real sense of it. And tonight, with three goals in the match that clinched the 20th league title for the Red Devils, RVP justified the huge confidence Sir Alex Ferguson had in him to have parted with such a big transfer for a 30 year-old.
Looking at the second goal he scored from the long racking ball from Wayne Rooney, one couldn’t but marvel at the quality of the Dutch striker. He took the ball one-time with his famous left foot and it nestled in the top left corner. That second goal will surely count among the best goals of this season.
If wishes were horses, I would have had Arsene Wenger sacked as the manager of Arsenal. As hard and controversial as this statement may sound, the truth of the matter is that were the Frenchman managing other teams, he would have been asked to go or forthrightly sacked all these while.
Theo Walcott’s eventual decision to sign a new contract after a very prolonged negotiation reveals the flaw in Wenger’s carefully nurtured image as a master in club management. Two questions to be asked.
What were they looking at or doing until Theo Walcott’s contract dragged till the last one year before commencing new contract negotiation? Why is the wage structure at Arsenal set up in such a way that average players earns as much as top performers?
Over the past two years, I found myself writing more about Arsenal than any other football club. Sometimes I ask myself why this is so. The answer lays in the fact that I have consistently followed the club since the mid-1990s and the transformation from a hard kick forward type of football to the exciting continental flair brought to prominence by Wenger cemented my love for the team.
Initially, I was enthralled by the pure confidence and elegance of Tony Adams. Add to this the raw power of Martin Keown and the impregnability of David Seaman; you had a team both rich in character and winning mentality.
What could have turned out to be one of the best football matches in the EPL in recent times was marred by incompetent refereeing by Mark Clattenburg. I couldn’t agree more with the view of Roberto Di Matteo that “It’s a shame the game has to be decided in that manner. We are massively disappointed that these key decisions were wrong. It always seems to be in favour of the opposition. It was a good game of football with two good teams and the officials ruined it”.
As I watched the referee issue two red cards in a space of five minutes to Chelsea when they were on the ascendancy and putting their opponents to the sword, I couldn’t help but remember the finals of the 2005 FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Holland when Nigeria lost to Argentina due to dubious penalty awards which Messi put away. The same referee refused to give Nigeria a clear penalty when Obasi Ogbuke was bundled over by Pablo Zaballeta.
That Samson Siasia has been fired as coach of the Super Eagles is no longer news but the aftermath of it is what I call ‘Titanic Suit’. The gentleman is demanding a princely N1Billion through a lawsuit he filed at an Abuja High Court. Among other things, Siasia claimed that the NFF has not paid the two months salary being owed and did not give him the mandatory 30-day notice prior to his sack as spelt out in his contract. He also highlighted the fact that the NFF never hired a fitness trainer for him as agreed and accommodation was never sorted out throughout his tenure. For all these and of course, more than meets the eye, the former international is asking for that whopping sum for breach of contract.
On another day, I wouldn’t have bothered myself with the issue of the sack of Siasia as I strongly believe that his sack is not the solution to our football problems. I couldn’t however fail to comment on the fact that our administrators had failed once again to thread the path of caution and for once remove a problem from the root instead of plucking away at the leaves. While it may be reasonably argued that Siasia failed at the first hurdle in his assignment, I am of the opinion that it would have been better to take a holistic approach to the issue rather than pander to emotions and push him down syndrome.
Let me quickly say that I have never met Siasia in person but I have been a long term admirer of his approach and dedication to the game right from the time he took the Flying Eagles to the zenith of Africa qualifiers before appearing in the finals of the FIFA under 20 tournament in Holland six years ago. To underline his fine achievement and confirm the fact that he knew his onions, he took the Dream Team IV to the finals of the Olympic football event where they narrowly lost to Argentina.
While many would be quick to attribute the unfortunate outcome of the last match of the Super Eagles to the so called high handedness of Siasia and his refusal to pardon Vincent Enyeama, I would be quick to draw your attention to the fact that his recall of Osaze to the team actually did more harm than good. As far as I’m concerned, a coach either sinks or swims with his players. Would Enyeama have stopped the goals conceded by Aiyenugba? May be. Only God is in a position to know that. I however agree with Siasia absolutely in keeping the goalkeeper from the team, as he was not ready to apologize for his utterances and misdemeanors.
It is also important to call a spade a spade and not a big fork. No man is greater than the team. The earlier we instill discipline across all our endeavours the better for us as a Nation. Most of our players would never try the nonsense they engage in when they come for national assignments in their respective clubs. Just imagine a Mikel Obi leaving training grounds without informing Andre Villa Boas!
Now that the NFF has quickly appointed Stephen Okechukwu Keshi without any competitive appraisal as our new senior national team coach, lets us hope that we would kick on from here. I also learnt that Keshi’s contract is quite similar to that of ousted Siasia. And that is qualification for the 2013 ACN and 2014 FIFA world cup. I however pray that the NFF resolve their issue amicably with Siasia and not form a cloud of distraction for the new helmsman.
Most significantly, only a fool continually stumbles at the same spot. We cannot continue to make the same mistakes and keep going round in meaningless circles. This is the time to gird our loins and put our house in order to occupy our rightful place in African (never mind world) football. And for “Skippo”, congratulations and all the best in ensuring that targets are met.