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Inept, weak, no plan: humiliation for Manchester United and Solskjær

Manchester United

For 90 minutes at Old Trafford the players of Liverpool and Manchester United produced something that resembled, in its colours and shapes, an elite-level football match. In practice it felt like something else: a kind of ritual humiliation, certainly, a real-time study in how to empty, safely, four-fifths of a football stadium.

Mainly it was just a gruesome spectacle, something seasick and rotten, a team in a state of high‑priced sporting decay caught pinned and wriggling under the lights.

This is a little unfair on Liverpool, who were majestic, an entirely coherent team led by the outstanding player in the world right now in Mohamed Salah. Salah’s game in numbers: seven shots, three goals, one assist, 96% passing accuracy, and barely a sweat broken. Salah has 15 goals and three assists in 12 games this season. It has been a near-perfect sequence. Is he the best, most decisive, most delightful player in the world right now? Is this even a serious question?

This was perhaps the oddest part of United’s collapse, a performance of such stunning ineptitude it seemed to be competing with Salah to become the story, like a drunken uncle at a wedding party roaring and grizzling just out of shot.

What are we supposed to make of this? How to analyse such a putrid display? The word from inside United has been consistent: Ole Gunnar Solskjær is under no pressure, is still seen as the man to take this dizzyingly expensive investment forward. And yet here we had a performance so poor it was tempting to ask if there has been a worse half of football by a Manchester United team that anyone can remember.

There were lows under David Moyes, some lost afternoons under José Mourinho and Louis van Gaal. But nothing quite so deathly, so free of structure, love, basic competence. Factor in that United can field four of the top five best‑paid players in the league and it seems fair to ask if there has been a worse performance since this club were relegated in the 1970s. What does it take to accept that this is simply becoming a humiliation for everyone involved, an endless trauma. We are moving into alien territory here.

Meanwhile the problems in this United team are obvious: a basic slackness, a lack of resistance, too many basking stars. And not just a poor plan, or a badly executed plan, but no plan at all, a team unbalanced by an aged celebrity centre-forward, poorly coached and complacent, with a manager in the job because of heritage power and brand-maintenance.

Mainly, it was just strange. In the first half Liverpool kept scoring the same goal. Four times the minimum of moment, energy, thrust just seemed to slice open the centre of this United team.

The sense of these two things happening simultaneously, brilliance and ineptitude, was captured best by the fifth goal just after half time, the moment that completed Salah’s hat-trick. What a lovely goal this was. What a horrible, shapeless, terrible goal this was.

First Fred simply ran past the ball. Paul Pogba was swished aside like a set of net curtains. Jordan Henderson, with time, space and an embossed invitation, played the perfect curled through pass for Salah to gambol on and finish like a man playing against his eight‑year‑old cousins in the park.

Liverpool had opened the scoring after three minutes, a goal that involved walking right through the centre of that soft, malleable, permeable substance known as Manchester United. How is it possible for a team to line up with a hard rump of four defensive players in the centre to also have nothing there, no human flesh? To be so completely unprepared, a team that has come to work having forgotten to put on its trousers? Space opened up. Salah played a perfect pass on to Naby Keïta. He finished nicely.

With 13 minutes gone it was 2-0. This time Harry Maguire and Luke Shaw got themselves into a horrible shemozzle, a half‑wheeled scrum. Again there was no presence in front, no shield. Keïta fed Trent Alexander‑Arnold who, in a stunning break with tradition, apparently undetected by the United tactical plan, was haring down the right wing.

What does it mean, how are you supposed to feel when James Milner is tobogganing gleefully in your six-yard box, not first but second in the queue to tap the ball away from home with 13 minutes gone? This is one of those events that just looks wrong, a raven-free tower, a polar bear on a melting ice floe. But then, you can get used to anything and seven minutes before half‑time it was three.

Salah provided the finish. Keïta again gave the final pass. In added time it was four, with another weirdly facile goal, Shaw pirouetting like a drunken ballerina as Diogo Jota fed Salah, who passed the ball into the bottom corner.

There were other moments, horrors piled upon horrors. Paul Pogba was sent off for a lunge through Keïta, adding a deeper note to an already nightmarish afternoon. Fred was … well, it would be cruel to detail the times he was left sprawling. That desperation at least showed that he was trying, that he cares. Fred is not good enough to fulfil his brief. This is obvious. It really isn’t his fault we have to keep on being presented with this fact.

By the end the away fans were bullying United’s manager, asking for a wave, roaring their approval at his continued steerage of the ship. We want six. Attack attack attack. It should have sounded like exit music. Is anyone actually listening?

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Bauchi pays N3.418bn in outstanding gratuities

The Bauchi State Pensions Board has announced that, from May 2019 to date, the state government has paid N3,418,288,11.68 in outstanding gratuities owed to retired civil servants.

The Chairman of the Board, Senator Bala Adamu Kariya, made the disclosure at the ongoing ministerial press briefing in Bauchi, held at the State Secretariat.

Although Senator Kariya did not specify the total gratuity backlog, he noted that it exceeds N20 billion.

He stated that since the inception of the current Peoples Democratic Party (PDP)-led administration in 2019, a total of 4,273 people have retired, and 677 have died while in service, out of 4,948 files processed.

“The Board processes the files of civil servants due for retirement. We are the custodians of the processed files of all state civil servants who have retired,” the chairman stated.

Senator Adamu, however, said that in order to avoid further accumulation of pension and gratuity liabilities, the state government intends to commence the implementation of the proposed contributory pension scheme on June 30, 2021.

“As a sign of commitment, His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, appointed a 20-member committee, including a staff member of Messrs Premium Pension Ltd for technical guidance under the chairmanship of Mr. Abdon Dalla Gin (Special Adviser on Civil Service Matters).”

“In line with the Terms of Reference to the Committee, a final report with a draft bill has been carefully produced, tapping from the 2004 Act, 2014 revised Act, and previous efforts of successive state administrations like the 2005 and 2017 draft bills, and was presented to His Excellency, the Executive Governor, Sen. Bala Mohammed Abdulkadir, as appropriate.”

He recalled that Governor Bala Mohammed had presented the report to the State Executive Council for consideration and approval, following which a draft bill was forwarded to the State House of Assembly for further legislative process in line with the laid down constitutional procedure.

“After gathering the necessary stakeholders’ input, the State House of Assembly then ratified the draft and returned the same to the Executive Governor for assent. Consequently, on August 5, 2022, His Excellency, the Executive Governor of Bauchi State, assented to the bill enacted by the State House of Assembly.”

“It was named the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Scheme. The law also provided for the establishment of the Bauchi State and Local Government Contributory Pension Commission.”

“The state governor approved the constitution of another high-powered committee under the chairmanship of Ibrahim Muhammad Kashim, the Secretary to the State Government, to facilitate the full implementation process of the new scheme in the state.”

Kariya further explained that prior to this development, the state government appointed two firms of Pension Fund Administrators (PFAs), who have now engaged stakeholders in a massive sensitization, advocacy, and enlightenment of the scheme across the state.

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Two-storey building collapses in Abuja

A two-storey residential building in Phase 2, site 2, Kubwa Abuja has collapsed

The building collapsed on Saturday morning at about 7:00am.

It was learnt that the building was formerly a hotel, Al-Hilal, but was converted to a residential apartment.

It was gathered that several people are currently trapped in the rubble.

As at time of filing this report, emergency responders and security personnel were at the scene.

 

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Police to enforce e-CMR compliance from July 29

The Nigeria Police Force have given all motor users 14 days to register their vehicles with the newly-introduced digitalized Central Motor Registration (e-CMR), which will end on July 29, to begin the enforcement of its compliance in order to checkmate the rate of vehicle-related crimes and other offenses.

In a press release, the Force Public Relations Officer, ACP Olumuyiwa Adejobi, informed that the move is part of the efforts of the Inspector-General of Police, IGP Kayode Egbetokun, to enhance the security of lives and property and significantly boost the nation’s safety.

The release further stated that the exercise is an advanced form of helping security agencies, mostly the Police Force, in their investigations and operational activities to combat vehicle-related crimes, including terrorism, banditry, kidnapping, and other social vices.

It also stated that the introduction of the e-CMR digitalized system will help streamline the documentation and verification process for vehicle ownership and related transactions.

“Following the directives of the IGP, services such as change of ownership, change of license number, change of engine, and change of chassis/body would become seamless as the e-CMR system would ensure the validation of vehicle genuineness and ownership, enhancing the ability to track and recover stolen vehicles effectively, and preventing the purchase of stolen vehicles by innocent buyers.

“Prior to the enforcement itself, the IGP has ordered full publicity of the e-CMR and its enforcement to all members of the public, intimating them of the requirements, processes, and the enforcement procedures. Members of the public are urged to obtain the digitalized CMR certificate online at https://cmris.npf.gov.ng.

‘For further inquiries, individuals can contact the CMR Command Centre at FHQ Abuja (08117777666, 09169892000) and FHQ Annex Lagos (08117777555, 09169891000). Technical support is also available at cmftech@npfcmr.ng,” the release partly stated.

Following this new development, the Nigeria Police have enjoined members of the public to participate in the exercise by ensuring that all vehicle users comply with the new directive, maintaining that the initiative, which is in line with modern technology, remains a strategic approach to enhance public safety and national security.

ACP Adejobi further stated that the enforcement of the e-CMR is necessary to ensure a safer and more secure environment for vehicle ownership and to decimate the trend of vehicle theft by greatly reducing the possibility of selling stolen vehicles in the country.

“We therefore urge all vehicle owners and users to embrace and participate in this initiative promptly for optimum safety and security,” he stated.

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