Jose Mourinho is the key to any potential Tottenham title bid this season, Paul Merson, a football analyst and columnist, says as he also praises Harry Kane’s transformation, before going on to suggest another possible surprise winner of this season’s Premier League…
Tottenham briefly went top of the Premier League on Sunday for the first time in six years thanks to a 1-0 win at West Brom and I think the north London club can challenge for this season’s title with Jose Mourinho at the helm; I also back Chelsea to compete for the league
Mourinho knows what it takes to get Spurs over the line
It’s a hard question to answer (can Spurs win the league?). They are going to be very reliant on Harry Kane.
But, to be fair, results like the win at West Brom, they win you league titles. You look back on results like that and come what may, you remember it as a difficult game against one of the teams down at the bottom, who couldn’t win a game but turned up on the day, and it turns out to be an important win.
That’s what you are up against if you want to win the Premier League. You watched West Brom against Fulham and they were atrocious. You start to think Tottenham have only got to turn up on Sunday morning and as long as they don’t forget their boots, they’ll win the game and move on.
But in the end, it was a very hard game and Mourinho is probably sitting there asking himself why they didn’t turn up and play like that against Fulham. That’s how hard the Premier League is.
Can Spurs go on and win the title? It’s not impossible and that’s because they’ve got a serial winner as a manager. They’ve got a chance because Mourinho is in charge and has won it before. He knows what it takes to get over the line.
Can the players keep producing week in, week out? Only time will tell, but having Mourinho at the club gives them an advantage.
Mauricio Pochettino was a good manager, don’t get me wrong. However, they’ve now got more chance of winning the title because of Mourinho. He knows what you have to do week in, week out and then all over again.
I think Spurs have more chance of winning the title under Jose Mourinho than previous boss Mauricio Pochettino (left)
You have to be there or thereabouts all the time. You cannot be giving teams six, seven or eight-point head starts, and they are right in the mix at the moment.
A word of caution, though. Everyone’s talking about the title and because it is November, people think we’re nearly halfway through the season. Usually we’d have played about 15 games by now and that’s a massive difference, but we’ve only played seven or eight games.
But when Mourinho won the title at Chelsea, they always got off to a flyer. He’s the only manager I know who treats every game like it is the last of the season. Every point mounts up and Mourinho always flies out of the stalls in a title-winning year.
Jose’s not here to entertain, but to win
I’m one of Mourinho’s biggest fans, but I have been critical of him.
When I was critical, it wasn’t about him as a manager, because you cannot knock someone who has won all those trophies. It doesn’t matter when he won those trophies, he’s won them. They are on the CV.
My only question mark was whether Kane would be able to get 30 goals in a season being in a Mourinho team.
Mourinho is a winner. He doesn’t mind winning games 1-0. He’s not there to entertain people, he’s there to win football matches. If they entertain and end up winning 3-0, then fair enough, but he is one of those managers that wins a game 1-0, puts it into the back pocket and moves on to the next.
Fans will moan that it was only 1-0, but Mourinho won’t care, and that comes with experience.
But now, with Kane on fire and the other attacking players they’ve got at their disposal, they’ve got a chance. A real chance, but, for me, I just can’t see past Liverpool.
Harry Kane has transformed his game
Kane is a special player. He’s changed his game a bit now as well. He starts drifting off into the No 10 position and he can spray the ball around the park. He’s showing he’s got vision and it is like he’s the all-round package.
There are not many players about who can go up front and be a target man, be strong, put his body in the way, score goals and then in the game, he can drop off and hit a 30-yard ball through the eye of a needle and knit play together.
There are not many of those players around, if any.
It’s like having Alan Shearer, who played up front as a No 9 and then there’s Teddy Sheringham as a No 10, and Kane can play both of them. Shearer couldn’t drop off and play as a 10 and I don’t think Sheringham could play the Shearer role.
For Kane to be able to do both, and they were special players, is remarkable.
Summer signings show Mourinho at his best
I hail the signing of Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg
This is where Mourinho is special. He sees things others don’t. He sees what he needs, and he doesn’t just go out and buy players for the sake of it.
In Pierre-Emile Hojbjerg, they needed that ball-winning midfielder to break things up and then there are the full-backs.
I couldn’t believe Wolves let Matt Doherty go. For the price Wolves let him go for, I didn’t get that one at all.
That’s where Mourinho is so good, and I as I said earlier, as long as he’s in charge, they’ve got a chance. It’s not impossible at all, but again, we are only seven games in, and you could not write the script of the league so far this season.
Don’t rule out Chelsea for the league either
If we are going to talk about Tottenham winning the title, then Chelsea are right in the mix. If Spurs can win it, then for sure, Chelsea can win it.
Frank Lampard has now got who he wants in key positions and you can really see the difference.
Thiago Silva is world-class. They’ve got two full-backs who are as good as any in the league and for me, they [Reece James and Ben Chilwell] are the two England full-backs, in my opinion. They are outstanding. Silva is also only going to make Kurt Zouma a better player and the goalkeeper Edouard Mendy is solid.
I know Sheffield United are down at the bottom at the moment, but they are a hard team to play against. They are organised and when you go 1-0 down, you know it’s going to be a difficult evening.
However, they literally dismantled Sheffield United. They made them look like a proper relegation team, which I don’t see that because I think Sheffield United will be okay this season. They made them look distinctly average and that’s a sign of a good team.
Lampard does have one problem though…
Frank Lampard will need to somehow keep all his players happy this season
It’s coming from everywhere too. Hakim Ziyech has got a left foot that can open a can of worms, Timo Werner scores plenty of goals, Tammy Abraham looks like he’s getting better and then there’s Mason Mount. They’ve just got so much attacking talent.
The problem is going to be keeping everyone happy and that’s going to be the hardest job in the world. You are going to have top, top-draw players not playing, and that’s hard.
Kai Havertz wasn’t even in the squad because he was unwell and Christian Pulisic is injured too. Mateo Kovacic played on Saturday, but he hasn’t been playing. That’s going to be the problem Chelsea have to contend with going forward.
Is the squad too big? It depends how far they go in certain competitions, but that is where Mourinho was great. If you look at his Chelsea team and the squad he had at Stamford Bridge, you never heard anybody moaning.
From the outside, you always thought, ‘wow’! How do you keep all those players happy? There’s got to be an art to it because when you’ve got that quality of player, to keep them all happy when they are not playing is a major skill.
It’s alright people saying they get £100,000-a-week, they get paid well or whatever, but they want to play football. As a player, you want to play football and that will be Lampard’s biggest challenge going forward.
They also have to play a better quality of opponent in the games coming up, but everything at the moment looks good.
Paul Merson ( Columnist and Football expert)
Opinion: Igboho writes President Buhari, by Tunde Odesola
(Published in The PUNCH on Monday, July 25, 2021)
Shugaban Nigeria, ya kwana uku.
Your Excellency, I do not seek to rouse the ghosts of the slain victims of Fulani Ghoulish Nomads (FGN). Before you hasten to add hate speech charge to the list of rootless allegations your rulership has levelled against me, let me quickly state, sir, that ghouls are not only located in northern Nigeria.
They’ve sprouted and taken over every inch of the land ruled by your underachieving regime, wearing the masks of terrorism, corruption, rape, banditry, ritualism and daily bloodshed – kicking Nigeria in the teeth – with no end in sight.
Aare Buhari, though the dead have long buried the dead, their ghosts won’t just rest in peace. So, the spirits of the dead continuously hover over the face of the waters, crying for justice and seeking repose, but getting neither from your bullying regime.
Before my letter reopens the bleeding wounds of the past, permit me to do a brief and formal introduction of myself, sir. My name is Sunday Adeniyi Adeyemo. I’m a 48-year-old indigene of Igboho town in the Oke-Ogun area of Oyo State.
Your Excellency, if Oke-Ogun evokes some sense of utter disdain in you, I understand. It was Oke-Ogun that caused you to storm the Oyo State Governor’s Office, Ibadan, in October 2000, in company with some prominent Fulani leaders, on the allegation that some Yoruba farmers allegedly killed 68 Fulani herdsmen in a reprisal. Do you remember the incident, Baba Yusuf?
God bless his soul, Alhaji Lamidi Adesina, the first executive Governor of Oyo State in the Fourth Republic, who hosted you and your aggrieved entourage from the Caliphate.
Before he spoke on the occasion, Lam, as the governor was popularly called, first called on the state Commissioner of Police, and the state Director, Department of State Services, both of whom told you to your face that the alleged death of 68 Fulani in the hands of Yoruba farmers was untrue.
Lam also called on his deputy, Chief Iyiola Oladokun, the Secretary to the State Government, Chief Michael Koleoso, both indigenes of Oke-Ogun, and the chairman of one of Oke-Ogun LGs, Chief Ademola Alalade, to speak. They all told the truth which indicted the Fulani in Oke-Ogun as the killers of their Yoruba neighbours.
Your Excellency, when he spoke to round off the meeting, Lam advised the Arewa Consultative Forum to seek the unity and peace of Nigeria at all times.
Baba Buhari, though I never attended a university, I’m not an illiterate. I can read and I can write, despite starting out as motorcycle repairer. Through hard work, self-improvement coupled with my belief in Ifa, I’m today an employer of labour.
Shugaban Nigeria, just like you don’t write your speeches yourself, I didn’t write this letter myself, too. Baba Zahra, mi o gbo oyinbo nla nla, walahi! I don’t understand big big grammar. But I understand justice and truth. This is why the cause I champion, which is the emancipation of the Yoruba from daily killings, victimisation and repression, is being supported by true sons and daughters of Oduduwa. The support is what produced this letter, Your Excellency.
Baba o, I am citizen Igboho, a creation of the abject Nigerian leadership. Like millions of my ilk living in the nooks and crannies of the country, I’m a product of years of government neglect.
When your government kept silent as Fulani herdsmen butchered my people day and night, I embarked on the road called self-help and employed bravery, street wisdom and defiance to rescue my people.
This was after Dr Fatai Aborode, Europe returnee, was killed in his Igangan community of Oke-Ogun by suspected Fulani herdsmen when he complained that his 400-acre cashew farm was eaten up by Fulani cows.
President Buhari, though Aborode’s murder was one death too many, your regime kept silent and did absolutely nothing to assuage the killing or assure the people of Igangan of their safety. Also, popular herbal trado-medicine practitioner, Alhaji Fatai Yusuf, aka Oko Oloyun, had over a year ago been killed along the Igbo Ora-Eruwa Road in Ibarapa, among many other deaths. Ironically, sir, hundreds of captured Boko Haram terrorists were granted pardon and rehabilitated into the society, after alleged deradicalisation.
Baba Halima, I’m not a criminal. The pervading sense of hopelessness, injustice and insecurity in the South-West was why I went to Igangan and gave the Fulani therein an ultimatum to vacate the land.
Sir, do you know that long after my seven-day ultimatum, the Emir of Muri Empire in Taraba State, Alhaji Abass Tafida, has also given a 30-day ultimatum to Fulani bandits. But he hasn’t been declared wanted.
Your Excellency, as I said early on, I may not understand big big ‘turenchi’, but I can read and I can write.
I read on Sahara Reporters website that the emir didn’t only give a 30-day ultimatum for Fulani killer herdsmen occupying Taraba forests to vacate, he also said, “From now onwards, if anyone is kidnapped from this emirate, we will go into the bush and kill any Fulani man we see.”
General Buhari, if a Yoruba or Igbo monarch had said what Emir Tafida said, the fire emanating thereof from Aso Rock would’ve burnt the crown on the head of such a monarch into ashes. But because the emir is from the North, Aso Rock looked away like a corrupt invigilator who has been bribed by cheating students.
Baba Hadiza, what have I done wrong? I’m only fighting for my people, just like you took up the cause of your people and led a delegation to Lam in October 2000.
Oga Buhari, in 2019, you also led a delegation to the UN General Assembly in New York, where, in your own very words, you advocated ‘the rights of the Palestinian people to have their own country…and live in peace in their own land’.
Having said this to the ovation of the world in 2019, President Buhari, what is the justice in your rejection of the clamour for self-determination being championed by me and my fellow comrade, Mazi Nnamdi Kanu, when southern lives are not worth a fart under your regime?
Baba Fatima, it’s natural if your health is diminished by old age, but I know your memory is still intact to remember that ex-President Goodluck Jonathan, in 2012, lamented that his government had been infiltrated by Boko Haram terrorists.
Ogagun Buhari, your own regime is no better. It’s even worse because whereas it was Jonathan’s government that was infiltrated then, it’s your cabinet that has been infiltrated by Islamic fundamentalism now.
A beloved member of your kitchen cabinet and Minister of Communications and Digital Economy, Isa Pantami, had, in a sermon years before he became minister, openly expressed views sympathetic to the notorious al-Qaeda group and Boko Haram, describing the slain al-Qaeda leader, Osama bin Laden, a worthy Muslim. Pantami also expressed happiness that infidels were being massacred.
Infidels in the eyes of the Pantamis peopling your cabinet would be no less than millions of Christians, traditional religionists and believers of other faiths in Nigeria. With such a minister in your cabinet, Mr President, what’s the guarantee that the war against terrorism isn’t a lip-service by your regime?
Only God know how many innocent Nigerians were killed by Islamic terrorists who took up arms against perceived infidels having been fired up by Pantami’s destructive sermons.
Instead of investigating Pantami to check if he had been truly deradicalised or not, the Presidency rose stoutly to his defence, and said the leopard has changed its spots.
I, Igboho, didn’t say one-hundredth of what Pantami said. Today, Pantami is a free man but I and the supporters of my cause are being hounded by your regime. Two members of my family were killed when DSS attacked my house. This nepotistic attitude is unbecoming of a father, mujin Aisha.
Your Excellency, I’ll close with the words of your forebear, Uthman Dan Fodio, “Conscience is an open…”
Thank you, sir.
Facebook: @tunde odesola
Sent from Yahoo Mail on Android
Opinion: Do not kill Kanu and Igboho, by Tunde Odesola
Reflections on the man Nnamdi Kanu, by Chimamamda Adichie
Yesterday I announced that I would unveil my thoughts regarding the IPOB leader Nnamdi Kanu. Several people reached out, advising me to be neutral and steer clear of political discourse. They meant well for a young female writer with a reputation to protect, an image to project, and the care not to cause offense. I almost yielded but changed my mind this morning.
The Igbos are the same people about whom I wrote my current published work, In Blood and War, a book set in the then troubled Biafra.
On principle, I consider it unethical to make money off retelling the struggle of this tribe, and in the same breath be silent about their same struggle.
It is beneath morality for a writer to choose to speak only when it favours him or her. To retreat to silence in order not to ‘taint’ reputation.
To speak on this particular issue, of the man called Nnamdi Kanu, does not tribalize me or my works of literature. Especially as this remains an age-long fear of most writers; the fear of offending, a fear of stepping on toes, of banishment by a displeased societal sect, and even possible ostracism.
I speak because the making of a villain or hero often depends on who tells the story. Representation matters, when perspective becomes the thin line between an activist or a terrorist.
WHO IS NNAMDI KANU?
Nnamdi Okwu Kanu is a Nigerian Biafra political activist, and leader of the Indigenous People of Biafra IPOB.
In a move to create an independent state for the people of old Eastern Region of Nigeria through an independent referendum, Kanu founded IPOB in 2014.
He began his activism for the freedom of Biafra as director of Radio Biafra in 2009, and anchor of Biafra awareness under Ralph Uwazuruike, leader of the Movement for the Actualisation of Sovereign State of Biafra (MASSOB).
NNAMDI on Referendum, and SECESSION
According to Article 2 of the nation’s constitution, Nigeria is one indivisible and indissoluble sovereign state to be known by the name of the ‘Federal Republic of Nigeria’.
Our law does not recognise the right of a state to break away from the union. The only way to legally grant such an option is through an amendment to the law.
Hence, Nnamdi Kanu’s call for a referendum.
Same constitution only addresses two scenarios where a referendum is recognised – state boundary adjustment and the recall of a member of the National Assembly.
Headstrong on this path, Nnamdi Kanu ran into trouble with the Nigerian government and was first arraigned over allegations of terrorism, money laundering, treason, others, on October 14, 2015.
Later granted bail in 2017, he fled Nigeria in September after the military invaded his home in Afara-Ukwu, near Umuahia, Abia State, in the southeast of Nigeria. A move that prompted the Nigerian government to secure a court order proscribing IPOB as a terrorist group.
Nnamdi Kanu’s whereabouts remained unknown until his recent arrest a few days ago. He and his co-defendant are currently facing treasonable felony charges at the Federal High Court in Abuja, Nigeria’s capital. He also faces charges on unlawful possession of firearms and management of an unlawful society. The presiding judge adjourned the case to July 26, 2021.
Last week, while parceling one of my books to a buyer, a young boy of about 20 years old was making a call beside me.
At the end of his call, I understood four things:
1. He was negotiating to pay 200k to obtain a form that will identify him as a Niger Delta militant
2. This young man was not a militant
3. Incriminating himself and mortgaging his future through filling out such form would enable him get his share of the amnesty dished out by the Federal government monthly.
4. Our government negotiates with terrorists.
Since the arrest of the IPOB leader, my feed has been agog with posts casting aspersions on his person. Of which majority are made by Igbos, falling over themselves in a frenzy to denounce Nnamdi Kanu.
Meanwhile, a regular Hausa man is yet to put aside his Suya trade, cast on ashes and put on sackcloth, and then come on social media to endlessly bemoan the menance of Boko Haram in the country.
My ear still itches, awaiting the day a regular Yoruba man would take a chill off a peppery dish to criticize Obj. for not being the messiah we had hoped for. No, he is their brother. They must not speak bad of him.
Neither are the Ijaws pausing the oil bunkering trade in the rivers long enough to come online and rant about distancing themselves from militancy in the Niger Delta region.
I am yet to see any of these tribes measure the size of their phallus by how hard they throw their kinsman under the bus.
But not your average Igbo man.
No. Not the average Igbo man with itchy fingers, who masturbates off lambasting Nnamdi. The Igbo man must belong. He must trend. It is fashionable.
The Igbos are a bit too extra on this table.
GUILTY OR NOT GUILTY?
Still on the call for secession, on the 2nd of June 2021, the President of the Federal Republic of Nigeria made the below ‘heartwarming endearment’ to the Igbos on Twitter :
“Those of us in the fields for 30 months, who went through the war, will treat them in the language they understand.”
The above threat from the house of the presidency stinks of beating a child and asking him not to cry.
No one in their right mind departs a good home, one that is working.
Shouldn’t the real question then be . . . why do these people so badly want to stay apart from the rest of the nation?
First demonize a people, call their outcry terrorism, then their injustice becomes acceptable, their oppression becomes deserving.
Guilty or not guilty?
Nnamdi’s methodology may be rad, but his intentions are understandable. And for that, I will not throw him under the bus. Unbridled passion, passion without diplomacy, is all I see.
In the words of Peter Tosh, everyone is crying out for peace and none for justice.
I ponder in idle musings:
Whether Nnamdi is a terrorist, depends on what you mean by a terrorist. Yesterday it was Sowore. Then the youths at the Lekki tollgate. Today Nnamdi. Or could it be that this country only understands you better when you act mad?
On nitty-gritty, we might have become a nation that picks and chooses the brand of terrorists deserving of amnesty. Perhaps the class with guns and doing the most harm are more deserving on the VIP list. That is the only way the massacre of the armless IPOB youths can make sense.
One day, in a saner clime abounding in freedom of speech, I will laud the beautiful corruption of a beloved country called Nigeria
Till then, we will watch the brave made into examples, and shiver at the spectacle, until fear seals our lips and sends us tumbling back into the tunnel of silence.
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