Manchester United have struggled to live up to expectations this season even after forking out over £150 million (₦40 billion) on new players over the summer. A season maligned with a 0-4 destruction at the hands of MK Dons of the League One in the Carling Cup coupled with the 3-5 drubbing at the hands of the newly promoted Leicester City made life very uncomfortable for the new manager, players and the fans alike. Then came the master tactician, the maestro, the special one or as he likes to be called now ‘the happy one’, the enigmatic and confident Jose Mourinho and his all-conquering Chelsea side to Old Trafford. After 90 minutes or to spite Chelsea fans, after 95 minutes, the game ended in a stalemate. The following are lessons learnt from this grand match that could be applied to life.
1. In all things, be grateful: Who would have thought that an English Premier League dominating team over the years like Manchester United would ever be satisfied with a draw against any side at Old Trafford for that matter. But the euphoria surrounding that last gasp Van Persie strike goes to show that as they say “half bread is better than none”. Same with life, we might not be where we envisioned or planned, our so called mates are richer, some married with kids with amazing jobs but remember even then that some of your mates are dead, others are in the hospital. Be grateful to God for garri and He will provide you with sugar, groundnut and even milk. Even a draw might feel like a win a times. Take what you get with gratitude and move on.
2. Never ever give up: I am a Manchester United fan and I must confess that I had almost given up hope of my team finding an equalizer. It was the 92nd minute and I was about leaving the viewing center I was watching the match at when my spirit kept nudging me to stay till the end. The “it’s not over till it’s over” mantra kept resonating in my subconscious and I bullishly sat down expecting a miracle somewhat. A red card followed, a free kick, a header, a save and then. GOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOAL.
Never ever give up on your dreams and ambitions no matter what the other team (life’s struggles, the Government, employment rate, your bank account) says. As long as you believe in yourself, you will always have the backing of your God. Keep at it. Keep hitting. Keep kicking. Keep fighting. For even a bullet proof glass might take hours to break but consistent and persistent blow at the same spot will do the trick. Believe in yourself and never give up.
3. Don’t underestimate your opponent: Before the match, no reported or sports journalist gave Man Utd a chance of getting even a point from the match. I am sure inside him, Mourinho himself would have gone with the mindset of a sure victory judging by the formation he deployed. On a normal day, Mourinho doesn’t play Oscar in games away against tough opposition like Manchester City or Liverpool choosing to pair Willian with Ramires instead. But since Ramires didn’t play yesterday, I expected a Mikel or Schuller instead but playing Oscar showed only one thing, he came for a victory. He underestimated Manchester United and it cost him two points.
Your opponent in life could be yourself, not believing in yourself enough. Your opponent could also be the ‘witches in your village’; the people that will do anything under Heaven to make sure you don’t succeed in life. Life is a battle ground and only the strong brave will survive.
4. Even the old guard has something to offer: There aren’t enough superlatives to describe the love and adoration that Chelsea fans have for their Champions League winning hero “Didier Drogba”. The man who has terrorized Premier League teams over the years. A man, whom we never thought we would see playing at Old Trafford again but he came, saw and conquered with a bullet trademark header. Drogba came to prove doubters who thought he was a spent force wrong. In life, we will be confronted with difficult situations/choice/opportunities. There are always people around you with the knowledge and expertise to guide through the difficult patch. For example, no matter how many degrees you have attained or the amount of money you have, when it comes down to the issue of marriage and family, your grandfather is a professor while you are like a primary school dropout. Never become too big to seek advice.
5. Celebrate your victories as though they were your last: The image of RVP removing his shirt, throwing it in the air and shouting like a maniac after he scored the equalizing goal would have got a football novice thinking he had won the Champions League or at least won a cup or something. He didn’t even win the watch with his priceless effort.
In life, you have to learn to celebrate yourself. Celebrate your victories. You make even just ₦50,000 a month, treat yourself good, and take yourself out. Celebrate every triumph in life, the big and even the small ones. Life is an adventure, enjoy yourself while at it.
6. The amount of times you tried and failed doesn’t count: Failure is a process not a destination. Failure is the bus stop on your journey to the land of success. The problem is that most people alight at the failure bus stop because they have had enough and give up. Manchester United would have given up because for goodness sake they toiled for 90 minutes plus and still one behind. They kept pressurizing, kept toiling, kept on crossing, kept on shooting, kept believing until their breakthrough came. You should too.
7. Respect those that showed you the way: So it’s not news that Louis Van Gaal made a certain young Jose Mourinho his right hand man in 1997 while at Barcelona. Fast forward almost 20 years after and the former mentee/assistant manager in Mourinho has won more titles over a shorter space of time and in more countries than his mentor LVG. But seeing the respect Mourinho accorded LVG yesterday by going to hug him before and after the match showed the level of reference, humility and respect it takes to be a high flyer. Learn to respect and honor people that showed you the way.
8. Believe in Fergie time: During the Sir Alex Ferguson era, Man Utd were believed to have a special injury time at Old Trafford were they scored a much needed goal either a winner or an equalizer. This time is tagged “Fergie time”. Yesterday, the mystery of the Fergie time came to bear with his old team scoring an equalizer. Believe that life gives you an extra time. A special Fergie time that affords you the opportunity to correct your wrongs and learn in the process.
9. Take your opportunities in life: The first half of the game saw the mighty Chelsea register just one shot on target. Man Utd were on top in the first half, creating chances but they kept missing them by either blazing efforts wide or shooting tamely at the keeper. Then Chelsea had their opportunity in the second half and took it. A popular saying in life goes thus “Luck is when opportunity meets preparation”. Be always ready because opportunity comes when you least expect it. Take your chances because regret is a baggage you don’t want to carry.
10. Nobody is to blame for your struggles: After the game, Mourinho was quoted as blaming the referee on his team’s draw. He indicated that the red card given to Ivanovic was too soft and his team was denied a clear penalty. He blamed everyone but himself even when he made some obnoxious substitutions. In life, we always seem to blame everyone but ourselves for where we are. Some blame their parents; others blame the school they attended while others blame the Government. You are at fault, take responsibility.
JARA/EXTRA –> Click to watch: A 12 minute HIGHLIGHT of the match.