Get well soon Barca

By Mariah Ramharack August 16, 2020

All hail Bruno Fernandes! 

There hasn't been much to celebrate at Manchester United for the last few years and the success enjoyed under legendary manager Alex Ferguson is a distant memory. Despite not being a Man U fan, as a sports journalist, I award credit where it is due. The introduction of Bruno Fernandes in January has positively impacted the club. 

United boss, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, did not hesitate when heaping praises on the Portuguese for his game-changing ability. “He knows that keepers will wait for him to do the jump. He practices both of them and he practices both sides so he’s got them sorted. Better than I was anyway,”  Solskjaer said in reference to the player’s successful penalty-taking technique.

The results speak for themselves, since his debut at the club, United has not lost a game in the league, rising up the table to finish third and qualify for next season's UEFA Champions League for the first time since the 2018-19 season.  His eight league goals and seven assists demonstrate his calibre.  What is clear is that in Fernandes you have a leader, risk-taker and quality player. Man U are definitely stronger with the twenty-five-year-old. 

CPL - Hard work behind the scenes 

The Caribbean Premier League is the biggest party in sport. It brings together people from different walks of life eager to support their teams.  Being staged amidst the COVID-19 pandemic, the 2020 edition is shaping up to be different in numerous ways.  Sometimes, it is easy to by-pass the immense work that occurs behind the scenes to ensure fans can enjoy the matches.  This year the job is made even more difficult with no fans in the stands and a lengthy list of COVID-19 protocols to adhere to.  Earlier this week, I interviewed Head of Digital at CPL, Vishnu Kumar, who expressed great excitement for the tournament getting underway on August 18th

  Kumar stressed the importance of ensuring that CPL puts on a great show for fans around the world amidst the pandemic.  He explained, however, that even his journey to Trinidad and Tobago was not a simple task. “Air travel at COVID-19 times is extremely challenging but our operations team worked very hard to get us on flights with great social distancing and safety protocols in place and we flew first to Barbados where we quarantined for a few days before travelling onwards to Trinidad. We took a PCR swab test before we left to ensure that we were safe to travel and also had to wear masks and maintain social distancing throughout the duration of travel," he explained.

As if the travel to T&T was not difficult enough, as the CPL team get ready for a successful and exciting tournament, they are tasked with maintaining social distancing at all times.  The head of digital explained that they are required to work in assigned bubbles to ensure the safety of the entire cohort.  This means work that would normally be done face to face is being conducted online, sometimes plagued by faulty internet connections.  

  Despite being faced with immense challenges, Kumar sees simply getting all the players to T&T safe and sound as a success in and of itself. He explained that the entire CPL team is working to ensure they cover all the bases and demand the most of themselves to ensure that CPL 2020 continues to be the biggest party in sport. 

  Get well soon Barca! 

Barcelona are set to have presidential elections in the summer of 2021, as they seek a successor to incumbent Josep Maria Bartomeu, however, it is clear more than that is required to save the club. Friday's 8-2 loss to Bayern Munich was the heaviest Barca have suffered in Europe and ends a season that has also seen them lose the La Liga title to Real Madrid.  

It is hard to imagine how long it will take Barcelona to get over the impact of ‘The 8-2’ but what I do know is things must turnaround very soon if the club is to be a competitive force again.  What is clear is that the club needs structural change, a complete overhaul.  Things have deteriorated to the extent that Messi’s exasperation has been made public several times. 

The off-field problems are so numerous that they have seeped on to the field of play, for example, confrontations between players and the board over pay cuts. Messi has called out the sporting director Eric Abidal for blaming the players over the dismissal of Valverde.  

Apart from off the field problems, Barca has not managed their signings well. They signed Philippe Coutinho, for more than 100 million pounds but mishandled him. This failure to integrate a player of his quality into the squad has backfired miserably. He is now loaned out to Bayern Munich and scored twice in the final minutes against Barca. 

    As a Barcelona fan, I can only hope the team gets its business in order very soon, keeping in mind that Messi is not getting younger. The level of dependence on the player has to stop. Get well soon Barca! 

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    United won 13, drew four and lost just twice in games in which Ighalo featured last term as Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's side enjoyed a strong second half of the season, finishing third in the Premier League and reaching the semi-finals of the FA Cup and Europa League.

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    They have won their last seven home top-flight encounters with Sheffield United, a run that stretches back to August 1975.

    Opta data shows the Blades collected just one point in eight top-flight meetings with the Red Devils and the fitness of Rashford will come as a blow.

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