MAY-DAY

MAY-DAY

MAY-DAY(Photo from SkySports) [Manchester United players surrounding the referee]
With a tragic and disappointing season coming to an end after a start with such prestige and promise, Manchester United can now only hope they can secure European football in the Europa League Cup competition for next season. The red devils are approaching their worst ever Premier League points total if they win out the final three games of the season. In the past, the lowest points total came in the 2013/14 season when they accomplished 64 points under then manager David Moyes. After the start that United had to the season, how did it all go so wrong?

August 14, 2021, when United thrashed arch-rivals Leeds United at Old Trafford by five goals to one looked like the start of something special. The unveiling of one of the most decorated defenders in the world Raphael Varane, the debut of English wonderkid Jadon Sancho, world cup winner Paul Pogba providing an assist to four of the five goals, and Bruno Fernandes scoring a hattrick. These were special times. Things got even more exciting when it was reported that Cristiano Ronaldo would be making a sensational return from the Italian side Juventus.

However, all these things somehow got awful. Many different reasons could be eluded to, whether it was the non-continuity of the team, inept playing style without an identity, or even a lack of effort but one thing was for certain; it could not continue.

(Photo from REUTERS) [Ole Gunnar Solskjaer]
Following humiliating losses to Liverpool (5-0), Manchester City (2-0), and Watford (4-1), the club parted ways with the manager and club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer in November. The club was at an all-time low. Bad morale, news being leaked, the works. The board at United was quick to try and appoint a new permanent manager, but when their approach for PSG boss Mauricio Pochettino was rejected by the club, they ended up hiring German coach Ralf Rangnick on an interim basis with a two-year consultancy role as part of the board at the end of the season.

With the godfather of “gegenpressing” now in charge, fans were positive hoping to see similar playing styles to the likes of Liverpool and Chelsea, both of whose coaches were mentors of Rangnick. That was far from the case. Only a select few got to grips with it without issues and even though those players weren’t the best, they gave 110% on the pitch. The other “talented” players couldn’t give a damn and just made the dressing room even more toxic.

Rangnick spoke in press conferences about how a revolution is needed at the football club, stating that United doesn’t have the quality footballing department as compared to the current top three (Man City, Liverpool, Chelsea) and even said for any new permanent manager, this job would be like “open-heart surgery.”

(Photo from Getty Images) [Erik Ten Hag]
It has since been reported that the manager of Ajax Amsterdam Erik Ten Hag will become the new manager of Manchester United on a three-year deal. The 52-year-old will take charge at the end of the season, and is fully focused on Ajax with the club in a title race in the Dutch first division; the Eredivise. The former centre-half has a very good record managing Ajax winning 157 out of 212 games managed since 2017.

This will be a really difficult job to find a new identity at Manchester United and it could take time. The club is going through another season without a trophy, last lifting one in 2017 so frustration could creep in after the first year but patience is key. In all fairness, Ten Hag, Rangnick, and the newly revamped recruitment team have a lot of issues to work out.

The team has around six players who are out of contract this offseason. They are Jesse Lingard, Paul Pogba, Lee Grant, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani, and Juan Mata, with players such as Phil Jones, Eric Bailly, Aaron Wan-Bissaka, and Dean Henderson looking for moves to get regular game time. With an exodus like that, the club must be looking to sign about four or five players in the summer transfer window. This season was a nightmare for United fans all around the world but there were some positives.

(Photo from Manchester Evening News) [Charlie McNeill and Alejandro Garnacho (right)]
With the emergence of youth players such as Hannibal Mejbri, Anthony Elanga, Alejandro Garnacho, and Zidane Iqbal just to name a few, development over the next 18-24 months will be instrumental in the future success of the team. These players though inexperienced will have to buckle down and apply themselves to the new manager to ensure the team continues on an upward trajectory.

The Red Devils haven’t had a recognized holding midfielder that can play twice a week since Michael Carrick retired in 2018. That position has been neglected for years and cannot be avoided in this window. With the upcoming arrival of James Garner from his loan spell at Nottingham Forest, the team has a ready-made gem to look forward to.

(Photo from The Peoples Person [Harry Henshaw]) [James Garner]
Garner has had a successful loan spell, to say the least. Having produced 4 goals and 8 assists in 39 appearances, and making multiple teams of the week, Garner should be a contender to be the driving force in the midfield going forward, without having to spend. Reports over the last year have linked West Ham’s Declan Rice to a move to Old Trafford, but with a valuation of over $100 million, it is unlikely the deal gets done.

If United feels James is not ready for Premier League football, alternative options could be Wolverhampton’s Ruben Neves, Monaco’s Aurelien Tchouameni, and Leeds’ Kalvin Phillips. A scout was sent to Wolverhampton’s latest game to gather more info on Neves as a transfer gradually looks increasingly doable. As reported by Jonathan Shrager, Phillips would prefer to sign a new deal at Leeds and would find it hard to join Manchester United because of the rivalry between the clubs. When it comes to Tchouameni, he looks to be bound for Real Madrid even though he is “tempted” by a PL move.

(Photo from Getty Images) [Uruguayan Striker Darwin Nunez]
United are also reportedly interested in a young striker with Cristiano leading the line at 37, and Mason Greenwood’s future uncertain, names being linked are Darwin Nunez from Benfica and Jonathan David from Lille. A right-sided forward and a central defender are also on the agenda with Pau Torres being linked to the reds yet again. A fullback may also be prioritized but Rome was not built in a day, so some work will have to take place in future windows.

As stated earlier Ten Hag will have a mammoth job to make this team the force it once was, being the winningest team in PL history. A style of play and philosophy will need to be implemented during the preseason tour and a group of players that can be trusted to execute and give 110%. It will be an interesting summer for this group, especially since this is sports and anything can happen.

BRING FORTH THE BROOM

BRING FORTH THE BROOM

(Getty Images: Seth Curry)
Who in their right mind did not see this coming? The Brooklyn Nets are the MOST OVERRATED team in NBA history without a shadow of a doubt. As I have always said, the Nets are not a team, they are two decent players with G-league level players sharing a court.

Kevin Durant made his shots tonight I won’t lie, but he proved he does not have the clutch gene. Missing a key free throw to bring the game within 2 points, which led to Al Horford’s putback, put him in a worse light than I thought. KD’s fanboys making noise after he hit a running shot over Marcus Smart, they were all over Twitter. I have to laugh. Vegas had the Nets as the favorites for the chip this year. Whoever decides those stats for the gambling market should resign immediately.

After beating an inexperienced Cavs team in the play-in tournament, mouths were running in the city of Brooklyn. BRUCE BROWN! This man ran his mouth and have to give him respect, if he did not put up 26 points in game 3 then it would’ve been ugly. However, making a staggering 2 points in the entire win-or-go-home scenario means you need to be traded to a team with no belief or future; Detroit or something like that.

Even though the Nets got swept, there was a record in their favor. Nic Claxton broke Shaquille O’Neal’s playoff record for most consecutive misses from the free-throw line. Shaq was 0-8 from the line in 2006, while Claxton went 0-10, until going 1-11 on the night.

(Getty Images)
Boston won not just because of the brilliance of Jayson Tatum, the physicality of Jaylen Brown, or the Gary Payton regen in Marcus Smart, but for squad rules. Grant Williams, Payton Pritchard, and the returning Robert Williams III gave Boston that W.

Grant went off for 14 points including 3 three-point daggers. Payton Pritchard gave crucial minutes in game 2 for that clincher, and the Time Lord’s presence was evident, albeit in his limited game time.

Brooklyn messed up the trade earlier in the season when they traded for BUM Ben Simmons paying him $20 million to sit on the bench and cry for every pinch in his back. For someone who has crucial back injuries myself, I get up and ball on the street which is way rougher than this soft league nowadays, but he’s all about his money. A pay-to-play format in upcoming contracts could be implemented in the future all because of Simmons.

The Nets have a long offseason ahead including what to do with their coach, Kyrie Irving’s contract situation, and what to do with players like Dragic, Claxton, Brown, and Andre Drummond who played a total of FOUR MINUTES as a starter.

Don’t even get me started on KD and Kyrie. Without LeBron James and Steph Curry those two would be ringless; FACT! They are not Jordans or Kobes or Birds, they are more of Pippens and Kidds of the world. Their 2nd string and not the main men. Never have, never will be.

Again, who saw this coming for the Nets, apart from me obviously who thought they wouldn’t even make the play-in tournament. The Nets got the broom out and did not know they were cleaning their own mess.

KEEP TALKING

KEEP TALKING

(@Grady from Twitter)
If you can’t take some good level banter from the team you put in turmoil for two years, Kyrie, I don’t think you should be playing competitive sports. Try Chess or something but to react the way you did, is unprofessional and frankly very petty. The Brooklyn Nets had their tail high after beating an inexperienced Cleveland team in the PLAY-IN tournament and thought they were gonna win the NBA.

Bruce Brown of all people in the post-match press conference talked about Boston and how they are short-handed because Robert Williams III is injured and to just basically shut down Jayson Tatum to win the series. I still cannot believe he was serious. Bruce Brown, not Kevin Durant, not Steve Nash, but Bruce Brown who has one good game every hundred attempts running his mouth.

The man got what he deserved though. In the first quarter of the game at the TD Garden, the jumbotron showed the quote he made about not having the “Time Lord” available. The Celtics made light work of the Nets in the first half even though the game was tied at 61, they rendered KD useless with only two made shots.

In the second half, particularly the 3rd quarter, Boston took even further control extending their lead up to eleven points. What else do you expect when you constantly leave Marcus Smart open on the perimeter? SPLASH! The Celtics then got a bit sloppy on defense leaving Kyrie Irving open to get the hot hand.

(Getty Images)
Durant well was not important as he just did his normal drive, push-off, and pull-up shot near the elbow like every game but was caught for it this time. What about the guy running his mouth before the game? Must be on 30-5-5 by the end of the game right? WRONG! Bruce Brown had a STAGGERING 5 points in 37 minutes. He had as many points as he did fouls which is laughable because of the comments he made before the game. The problem is 81/82 games a season he produces these numbers.

He is like that kid at school that has all the trash talk but is absolutely like his comments; trash. The Celtics nearly let the game get away from them, but when an intense double team made its way to Irving with the shot-clock running down, and Tatum with an aggressive close-out to KD on the perimeter to throw up a wild shot, it was now or never.

(SportsNet)
Al Horford grabbed the rebound and fed Tatum to bring it up the court. Tatum to Jaylen Brown, the good Brown, Brown drives and kicks to Smart where he has Bruce Brown and Nic Claxton living out their childhood dreams of being superman and flying through the air where he dished it to Tatum who put Kyrie in the spin cycle before the most delicate of finger roles to win it as time expires to win 115-114.

What an end to a game that was and first blood to the Celtics. Brooklyn is gonna come out all guns blazing on Wednesday for game 2 if they have any ammo left anyway. Durant and Irving are gonna do what they do best then too, score every point and just watch their team suffer when they need to take a breath. My prediction; Celtics in 4, five is Brooklyn win game 3.

DOUBLE TROUBLE

DOUBLE TROUBLE

(Photo Credit: Jamaica Observer) {From left: Tia Clayton, Brianna Lyston, Tina Clayton}
As the ISSA (Inter-Secondary School Athletics) Boys and Girls Athletics Champions move into day three, that 100 meter final in the class 1 girls was one race that had people chattering. The high school athletics championships that take place in the National Stadium in Kingston, Jamaica, is a five-day event that started on the 5thof April and commences on the 9th.

Heading into the championship there were talks of who were the favorites to win it all on both sides, and also some individual winners. The usual culprits such as Kingston College, defending champions Jamaica College, and Calabar on the boys’ side, with Edwin Allen, Holmwood Technical, and Hydel High on the girls’ side, it is shaping up to be an intriguing championship.

The race that had a tear in the athletics fanbase of the country was who was going to win the class 1 (age 17-19) 100-meter dash. The race was going to be contested by the World U-20 Champion Tina Clayton, her twin sister Tia, and the rejuvenated and fastest Jamaican girl in the world at the moment Brianna Lyston.

Lyston who got injured early in class 3 while still a St. Jago High School athlete, now of Hydel High, came back to the competition going a blistering 11.14 seconds at the Central Championships meet earlier in the year, and a majority of the athletics fraternity leaned towards Lyston for the win.

(Photo Credit: Jamaica Gleaner) {From Left: Tina Clayton and Brianna Lyston}

However, the Clayton twins were never to be denied, well Tina anyway. When they came out for the finals on Wednesday night, it was hard to read the emotions of the three athletes. Faces like World Series Poker players made it hard to see if anyone was more confident, or even nervous.

The stage was set. Tia Clayton in lane 4, Brianna Lyston in 5, and Tina Clayton in 6. A hush around the stadium then…….BANG! Off they go with Tina and Lyston getting off to glorious starts, Lyston is trying to get back at Tina with Tia a bit of a distance behind, but Tina finds the afterburners and JUST holds off Lyston at the end. The reigning world champion of her age group copped gold in 11.23 seconds, ahead of Lyston in 11.26 seconds, and Tia Clayton 3rd in 11.47.

“Champs” continues on Thursday at 9:20 am JA time on the track with the 200 meters preliminary rounds on both the boys’ and girls’ sides. Coverage can be found on onespotmedia.com for those outside the country.

Who’s In And Who’s Out

Who’s In And Who’s Out

(Getty Images)
With the NBA Playoffs just under a month away, the league has been unexpected, to say the least. The new-look Lakers are struggling to maintain a PLAY-IN SPOT, yes you read that right, a play-in spot. LeBron James is doing his absolute best to bring will the team over the line in year 19, but he looks like he will be pushed to burnout at the crucial point of the season.

With Anthony Davis constantly injured, and talks for him to even be traded, have not helped the Lakers situation. New additions Russel Westbrook and Carmelo Anthony have had more bad times than good in the gold and purple. West-brick as he is called by fans, and Undisputed Co-host Skipp Bayless, because of his poor shooting and inevitable turnovers.

Melo has been okay in his displays offensively, one of the team’s highest-rated 3-point shooters, but the Achilles heel for the Lakers designates through almost every player; poor defending. The Los Angeles Life-care centre, I mean Lakers has one of, if not the oldest rosters in the NBA this season. Couple this with the injuries and poor decisions in-game by the “leaders” on the team, they could be out in the play-in, not even making the playoffs.

(Getty Images)

On the other side, we have the Brooklyn Nets, who were the favorites going into this season. With Kevin Durant, Kyrie Irving, and James Harden, this team was tipped to dethrone the Milwaukee Bucks for the NBA title but unforeseen issues. For employees in the state of New York, they have to be vaccinated, a decision Irving neglected to do, meaning he cannot play a home game for his team. Their best shooter from deep, Joe Harris, went down for the season, and this left the burden on Kevin Durant.

James Harden? He had a hamstring injury that kept him out of the team, before forcing a trade to Philadelphia. The Nets do have reasons to be positive though as in that trade with Philly, they received Seth Curry, Andre Drummond, and Ben Simmons. Simmons since joining the Nets has had more sprains in his back (1) than minutes for his new team (0).

Brooklyn fans can celebrate being three games over .500 and a locked-in play-in spot, which could be against Toronto meaning Kyrie can’t play no matter where it is being played because of the same vaccine mandate in Canada. Even fully fit with Simmons, Irving, Durant, and the crew, this team just stinks of a 1st round exit.

(Getty Images)

This season has the makings of an intriguing playoff season with spills, thrills and a whole lot of anxiety. The defending champion Bucks just got back their starting centre Brook Lopez from a long injury layoff, and boy have they missed him defensively. The Suns who lost in the finals to the Bucks have the best record in the NBA and are running away with the Western Conference.

The Golden State Warriors with their big 3 in Klay Thompson, Stephen Curry, and Draymond Green all fit and raring to go, Memphis with a young but talented core of players led by Ja Morant, and defending MVP Nikola Jokic willing Denver to the playoffs are the main contenders in the Western Conference.

The Eastern Conference has not been this competitive since about 2011. The number 1 Miami Heat, defending champs Milwaukee, MVP leading candidate Joel Embiid with James Harden in Philadelphia, and Jayson Tatum having Boston going through the best run in the NBA since the All-Star break are the contenders in the Eastern Conference.

WESTERN CONFERENCE

Genuine Contenders (making a deep playoff run)

Phoenix Suns
Memphis Grizzlies
Golden State Warriors
Denver Nuggets

One and Done (first round or out in the play-in)

Dallas Mavericks
Utah Jazz
New Orleans Pelicans
San Antonio Spurs*

Embarrassment incoming (unexpected from predictions a year ago)

Los Angeles Lakers
Los Angeles Clippers

EASTERN CONFERENCE

Genuine Contenders

Philadelphia 76ers
Milwaukee Bucks
Boston Celtics
Chicago Bulls
Cleveland Cavaliers

One and Done

Toronto Raptors
Brooklyn Nets
Atlanta Hawks

Embarrassment incoming

Charlotte Hornets
Miami Heat

*- still not ruled out from contention