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Godwin Odiko: Why Erik Ten Hag can’t continue with Fred and McTominay in Manchester United’s midfield




After a very impressive pre-season campaign, everyone thought Manchester United would at least defeat Brighton on their home turf. But, it wasn’t the case as Manchester United suffered defeat in what will be the first time they are ending a season with a defeat and starting another with defeat in 49 years.

So, how did Manchester United players fare in the game?

I will begin with the goalkeeper David de Gea. He could have done better with the save he made for that Brighton’s second goal by parrying the shot to a much safer zone instead of pushing it to Pascal Gross’ leg. Overall, he had an average performance.

Luke Shaw will have to perform better than he did against Brighton if he wants to hold on to his starting spot in the team. Didn’t produce any significant performance going forward and was many times lacking positional awareness at the back. He truly needs to step up, otherwise, Tyrell Malacia will easily take over from him.


Lisandro Martinez had a decent game and could have scored also but his performance won’t get the desired recognition because of the team’s result on the day. However, I see him holding on to that left CB position for a very long time.

Harry Maguire’s performance was not too bad but he could have done better with the first goal. Completely lost his marker and his lack of pace will surely give the manager reason to drop him if the team’s collective performance doesn’t improve.

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Diogo Dalot has been preferred to Aaron Wan Bissaka in the right-back role but I thought he was abysmal against Brighton. He couldn’t even contribute anything meaningful going forward after being preferred to Wan Bissaka because of his attacking prowess. He too needs to improve if he wants to keep starting at Manchester United.

Fred was impressive in pre-season but couldn’t carry over the performance into Manchester United’s first game against Brighton and was hauled off in the second half. To be sincere, he doesn’t have the talent to get into any of the top four sides. So, if Manchester United really want to compete at the top level they will need to get a proper DM.

Just like Fred, McTominay won’t even get into any of the top six teams to be honest. Just to reiterate what Roy Keane said in his post-match analysis, both Fred and McTominay lack football intelligence to play at a club like Manchester United. So, if Manchester United really want wants to compete at the top they need to get in at least one decent defensive midfielder to complement the creative talent of the likes of Bruno Fernandes and Christian Eriksen.


Going forward, I expect the coach to drop either one of Fred and McTominay or even drop both of them because if Manchester United truly want to compete for trophies this season and also finish in the top four, Fred and McTominay are the wrong people to depend on to achieve such aims.

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Jurgen Klopp needs to show more confidence in Darwin Nunez

The Liverpool manager has twice started the Uruguayan striker from the bench in the two competitive games the Reds have played so far in the season and twice the 23-year-old striker has found the back of the net coming from the bench.

Klopp is still insisting on starting Firmino ahead of Nunez but the truth is that the Brazilian international isn’t in the form of Nunez at the moment. Pep Guardiola has shown confidence in his new recruit Feeling Haaland and the Norwegian has repaid his manager’s trust by going on to score a brace in his first Premier League appearance.

There is no doubting Darwin Nunez goal scoring ability as he has shown in both the Community Shield and the Premier League so it’s time for Jurgen Klopp to trust the Uruguayan striker and start to include him in his starting lineup if he truly wants to compete with Manchester City for the battle of the title this season.


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Osimhen won’t renew Napoli contract



Nigeria international Victor Osimhen’s departure from Napoli is almost looking certain after Italian football transfer expert Fabrizio Romano said the striker was unlikely to renew his contract with the Italian champions,

Osimhen has been linked with several European clubs with English Premier League duo, Chelsea and Arsenal, leading the race for the Nigerians.

Napoli president, Aurelio De Laurentiis, had on several occasions said that the club’s most prized asset would not be sold this summer even if their valuation of €200m was met.

“Osimhen will stay here. He won’t leave,” he told Sky in August.


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Super Eagles drop two places in latest FIFA rankings



The Super Eagles of Nigeria have dropped by two spots in the latest FIFA ranking to place 42nd in the world.

In the ranking table on the website of the world football governing body, on Thursday, the Eagles dropped 16.04 points to rank 1474.44 points as against 1490.48 in October.

However, the drop did not affect the team’s placement on the continent, as it still remained the 6th team on the continent, behind Morocco, Senegal, Tunisia, Algeria, and Egypt, respectively.

The drop in ranking comes after the Super Eagles were held to a 1-1 draw in their two 2026 FIFA World Cup qualifying matches against Lesotho on Nov. 16 and Zimbabwe on Nov. 19.


Although Argentina (1st) still leads the way ahead of France (2nd), England (3rd, up 1) is now in the trio of teams at the front of the pack, followed by Belgium (4th, up 1), who have also climbed one place.

Although Brazil (5th, down 2) have lost ground following back-to-back defeats by Colombia and Argentina, they have clung on to their place in the top 5.

The Netherlands (6th, up 1) and Portugal (7th, down 1) have traded places in the top 10, which is once again completed by Spain (8th), Italy (9th) and Croatia (10th).

Uruguay (11th, up 4) have made solid progress, but they have to be content with a place just outside the top 10.

The Comoros Islands (119th, up 9), meanwhile, enjoyed an even better month with wins against the Central African Republic and Ghana, and have two reasons to celebrate as they are now in 119th place, their highest-ever position.

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Kosovo (101st, up 4) may not have climbed as many positions as the Comorans, but the Kosovans are also now higher in the ranking than ever before.

Guinea-Bissau (103rd, up 7), Azerbaijan (114th, up 6), Libya (120th, up 6), Malaysia (130th, up 7) and Rwanda (133rd, up 7) are the other big movers in the November ranking.

The ranking also had the re-entry of Samoa (187th), American Samoa (188th) and Tonga (196th), who were all playing international football again following months of inactivity.

The ranking took into consideration FIFA World Cup qualifiers that took place in African countries as well as in Asia and South America.

The other confederations’ schedules considered included UEFA EURO 2024 qualifying matches, Concacaf Nations League 2023-24 encounters and the Pacific Games 2023.


These matches all had a significant effect on the FIFA/Coca-Cola World Ranking, including on the make-up of the podium.

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Peseiro to NFF: Pay me, don’t teach me my job



Super Eagles coach, Jose Peseiro, told the Nigeria Football Federation Technical Committee not to teach him his job but rather pay him and his team their outstanding allowances,

Peseiro allegedly said this while reacting to the NFF Technical Committee Chairman, Shariff Ahlan’s comment in the wake of his future as Eagles coach, stating that the Eagles job is bigger than the Portuguese.

Ahlan told Peseiro in a meeting in Lisbon, Portugal in October that the Eagles had been struggling due to his poor technical abilities.

“You’re busy to pay me my allowances but not busy to tell me what I will do,” Peseiro replied Ahlan when he was told that he would defend his squad list for subsequent games.


Despite guiding Nigeria to qualification for the forthcoming Africa Cup of Nations in Ivory Coast, Peseiro’s uninspiring side trails Rwanda and South Africa in their 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign on the back of two 1-1 draws against Lesotho and Zimbabwe.

In 15 games in charge of the Eagles, Peseiro has won six and lost six with the three-time African champions scoring 31 times – with 10 coming in one game against Sao Tome and Principe – and conceded 21 goals.

“Henceforth, if I remain in the technical committee, if he submits a professional list he would come and justify the list in front of the committee explaining why he invited each player based on their statistics and club performance.

“From our side, we’ve said Peseiro can’t do the job, if you look at how he runs the affairs of the team it seems the Nigeria national team is bigger than him honestly.”

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Meanwhile, Sports Minister, John Enoh, has summoned Peseiro over the poor performance of the Eagles in the 2026 World Cup qualifying campaign.


Enoh made this known during a media parley with journalists in Abuja on Wednesday.

He said, “I am happy to report that I had a meeting with the NFF president, secretary and the Technical Department of NFF regarding the Super Eagles.

“What we came out of that is that I’ve had to request that the coach (Peseiro) be summoned and I think at some point next week there’s going to be an engagement with him.

“All of that is trying to respond to the outcome of these matches, especially the World Cup qualifying games.

While reacting to the call from some football stakeholders that the Portuguese should be sacked over poor results, Enoh said that despite the emotions and passions of Nigerians over football, the decision to sack a coach is not taken due to emotions.


“As a minister, I am concerned that the Nigeria national team is not delivering, not meeting up with our expectations. The Africa Cup of Nations is so close that we need to be careful in what decisions we make but the next qualification rounds for the World Cup, the next match is in June, so it gives us more time to take decisions going forward.

“AFCON is going to start January 13, are we going to request to fire the coach (Peseiro), I mean the answer is as good as mine.

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“I have found out that in this sector, there are passions and emotions. Where you are seated and where I am providing leadership, you don’t respond, you know you are not driven by passions and emotions.”

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