Welcome to The Final Ball Blog! This is where we’ll have weekly a weekly detailed insight into the last week of sport for those of you who just couldn’t live by only listening to us for an hour a week!
And it has finally happened, for the next 4 months, we will no longer have to suffer the monthly pains that the international break has been providing. Not only to us the fans, but especially to the players. I think the thing that made the last one feel so long was the fact that half of the planet has been lockdown so we’re just sitting at home, waiting for a night of Champions League enjoyment. Add in the fact that Twitter becomes a Colosseum for those that have lost their minds, club football returning will give us the reset button that we all need at this moment in time. And thanks to Jose Mourinho, there’s already narratives that are being built around this year’s title race. He seems to have a team built in his image, big, technical, well rounded striker in Kane, a physical creator in Ndombele, a counter-attacking dream in Son, with loads of work rate around it all. He’s focused on getting elements of the team with a bit more bite, and simply let his players with quality do what they do best. Not necessarily defensive. Just working with what you’ve got. And what he has is the same thing that Pep seems to be missing. The worldwide ideology of Pep Guardiola seems to have been hit by covid. He’s starting to look like he’s unable to build an attack to his previously high standards. It has even started to look like maybe he’s the defensive coach out of the two. Someone who obsesses with the positional play of players so much and then let the attacking players do what they want. When you have Iniesta, Thiago, David Silva, playing the way that he desires is always achievable. Messi, Lewandowski, prime Aguero, you can always expect that the goals would be taken care. But at the moment, neither of these roles are being fulfilled to his lofty heights. It seems that he’s failed at replacing the foundations that made the Man City that we’ve known for the last decade. It’s like he’s lost his spark and is waiting for Messi to come and save him.
Last mention of football, it seems like the English academies are really producing some of the most wanted talent around. Players are starting to pop-up all-over Europe, from Jamal Musiala at Bayern, Jonathon Panzo over in France, to Yunus Musah of Valencia. American-born, recently capped by their men’s national team, he’s joined what is starting to look like the best crop of “soccer” players that Biden & co have seen (and he’s been around for a while). As a man of Nigerian descent, I wish him all the best. But there is a question of concern to the English academy that he came from, Arsenal. The amount of talent that is coming out from there and being moved on so quickly is starting to raise questions considering what Arsenal have needed in recent years. Donneyl Malen has become a full international since he went to PSV, and we’ve heard all of the stories behind the man made by Tony Pulis, Serge Gnabry. You look at Szczesny sitting comfortably at the top level and think realistically, Arsenal haven’t had a better goalkeeper since. Even Martinez leaving is starting to raise questions. Torreira & Guendouzi couldn’t spend more than two years at the club before having to leave. It starts to make you question what they’re likely to do with Nelson, Nketiah Willock, Nelson, Balogun, Smith-Rowe, especially considering the current output of their forward line in the league. In a similar way how Chelsea & United have done in recent years, you don’t always have to give in to the demand of your deluded fan base and spend money by force on overpriced players, especially when there’s plenty of potential to develop. Even if they end up being only mid-table quality, could it be any worse than what Arsenal are currently doing? Might as well get something good out of it.
Moving onto to NBA, what an amazing week for all the players that were drafted this year. Especially to the 8 Nigerians that were selected. To see that country represented to this capacity is something that has been a long time coming and Nigerians continued their quest for worldwide domination by moving to every nation possible to seek success and enjoyable. Time will tell how they match up against the potential “MonStars” that the bigger rosters are attempting to build.
And to end, the GOAT. Sir Lewis Hamilton. We called for it, and it’s going to happen. In what feels like another power move for black people. Not just to been known as a great person among black people. But to finally get his deserved recognition as one of the greatest in the history of your sport is something that has been taken from our people for too long. And this is all that we’ve ever asked for. Not to be awarded out of pity to have special awards specifically for our culture, to be acknowledged amongst the best in the world, the same way that everybody else in. And to be able to command the same respect that legends do. Without controversial stigmas, condensing out of thin air in a pathetic attempt to derail the career and destroy the reputation of a proud and hard-working black man. And we have also to give a great amount of respect to the family that supported him and got him there. To hear the sacrifice that they had to go through in order to give him the opportunities creates a warm narrative that real people can relate to and draw inspiration from. This is what has created this great man that we are all proud of and we all salute.