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Bobby McMahon

Bobby McMahon

You can see me on Soccer Central most Mondays and Thursdays on Rogers Sportsnet in Canada. I write a regular column for and and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


Liverpool Truimph Over Ten Men While Blackburn Looked Like They Were Playing With Eight

Written by on October 3, 2011 | 12 Comments »
Posted in Blackburn Rovers, English Premier League, Everton, General, Liverpool, Manchester City

There were enough talking points thrown up by the Merseyside derby to keep a couple of Soccer Report Extra podcasts and a few Fox Soccer Reports fully stocked…..and that was just the first half.

The sending off of Everton’s Jack Rodwell can be put down to little else than referee error. Martin Atkinson had a great view of the incident and although the challenge from Rodwell was full-blooded it looked perfectly legal – both in real-time and on replay.

The contact made with Luis Suarez came after contact with the ball and although the sequence does not guarantee innocence the challenge on the Liverpool forward amounted to as much a case of the Liverpool player failing to avoid Rodwell as it was Rodwell making contact with Suarez.

Not surprisingly, with a man advantage,  Liverpool manufactured more chances than the home side and of better quality as the graphics below show.

You might be able to point to a Liverpool midfield that was more workman like than creative but in the end it was patience that triumphed. That patience was epitomized by the performance of Lucas Leiva.

He is never going to be mistaken for an inventive player but the Brazilian concentrated on playing simple passes and mostly into wide positions. It kept Everton running and as the game moved into the final the home side visibly tired.

Not surprisingly for Everton it was an uphill struggle after Rodwell was ordered off. Marouane Fellaini was at the heart of the Everton midfield. He worked tirelessly for the cause  tackling, passing and driving his side forward.

Playing for nearly 70 minutes with a man disadvantage ultimately proved to be 20 minutes too much for Everton.

A couple of weeks ago a “Sack Steve Kean” march proved to be the under-card for a stirring 4-3 win over Arsenal. But any thought that the “Kean must go” committee had been disbanded was put to rest during a 4-0 hammering inflicted by visiting Manchester City.

It was the third time this season that City have won by four clear goals.

In the first half City had been ponderous in their build-up and had allowed Blackburn to get players behind the ball. But the second half brought two goals in a three-minute spell just before the hour mark.

Two more goals were added as City moved up a gear or two.

The statistics reflect the domination of City:

Passes 612/302

Pass completion rate % 90/76

Attempts on goal 19/6

Crosses attempted 22/14

Worth noting that Yaya Toure attempted 103 passes and completed 93 of them.

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12 responses to “Liverpool Truimph Over Ten Men While Blackburn Looked Like They Were Playing With Eight”

  1. Ed Gomes says:

    Liverpool will win its share of games and will be in the hunt for 4th, along with Spurs and maybe Arsenal.
    There are some troubling signs though. I think that Dalglish’s lineups at times, leave a lot to be desired.
    By all accounts Carroll will not fullfill the hype. He just isn’t a creator, and he’s not even a good goal poacher. He will get his now and then header in, and a few others. Another Crouch? Granted that could prove to be enough.
    For me Carroll was brough in as much for his marketing potential. He’s a loved Brit with the added value of England squad success. I fully believe that Liverpool expects to cash in on that value, and I wonder how much they have so far. His fitness and commitement to the game coming into question has to tarnish that value a bit.
    Dalglish is also going to have to sort out his midfield rotation. It may look as a good problem to have, but it could also lead to a lot of wrong decisions and dissent.

    Blackburn is awful, and what their fans have to realize is that just because a “rich” owner has bought the team, it doesn’t mean they will spend out of their own fortune. This isn’t Malaga’s ownership.
    Kean will only be fired if he isn’t owed a lot of money on his deal. I can’t imagine why he would be, since he had to be brought in on the cheap.

    City has a great squad. The Tevez saga, may actually help solidify the team. Mancini is in charge and is running the club. They are going to be very tough to beat, and only complacency will be a downfall.
    Bobby, I’m glad you brought up Yaya. Due to Silva’s form he’s sort of become the lost man this season. He is far from being that, and for me, was the sigining of the year last season. I’ve been a huge Silva fan (wanted Man United to nab him years ago), but Yaya has been as tremendous.

    The headlines read; Lamps proves his worth vs Blackpool. Really?
    I’m sorry but people have had to notice the drop in Lamps form. Granted I agree that AVB made a mistake in sending Kalou in for Lamps that late in a CL match. But that doesn’t take away from Lamps current form. Bolton’s defense and goalie were putrid.
    By the way, has Chelsea given up a free kick goal that was sent into the box, in every game. No?
    In getting back to Lamps, I know that he could be very important in the backroom, but a changing of the guard is happening. I wonder how he and Terry, will ultimately react.

    I would like to comment Norwich for just always chasing the game. I don’t know if they will have the legs to do it all season, but kuddos to them. They deserved better in the game vs Man united, and should have had the lead.

    Is it really a big deal that a team is undefeated when they have only won two out seven matches? No! I have a feeling Villa fans just might be sweating the bottom tier of the table.

    I might get killed for this one, but here it goes. I know that Szczesny made some tremendous saves, and kept Arsenal in matches. But the one that he let in from Walker was horrible. If you take a look at the replay, he had plenty of time to stop it. Even if his sight was initially blocked, the ball wasn’t even swerving.
    Now for the getting killed part. I see a lot of “early” Almunia in Szczesny. Neither were expected to be starters and got the job by default. Both made tremendous saves early on. People tend to forget that about Almunia. We’ll see how Szczesny’s confidence holds up, when Arsenal’s defense continues to disapoint.

    In my opinion the Spurs should be in the hunt for a Top 3 spot. They have enough talent where a better than good rotation could be put into place. There should be no reason for tired legs. Winning should be the constant for this team. I have a feeling Harry will drop the ball and somehow come out of it ok.

    I know that QPR had let in plenty before facing Fulham, but how they let in 6 from a squad that had only scored four in it’s first six matches?

  2. Gus Keri says:


    “although the sequence does not guarantee innocence the challenge on the Liverpool forward amounted to as much a case of the Liverpool player failing to avoid Rodwell as it was Rodwell making contact with Suarez.”

    Enough indictment against Rodwell.

    Nevertheless, I thought the red card was harsh.

    Ed Gomes:

    “I fully believe that Liverpool expects to cash in on that value, and I wonder how much they have so far”

    By scoring in the Liveprool derby, he already paid back all his transfer fee, no matter how stupid it sounds.

  3. TomL says:

    Ed – If you think the ball Szczesny missed didn’t swerve, you need to get better glasses. It was only apparent on the replay taken from behind Walker, but in fact the ball took a wicked down and left break about 3/4s of the way toward the keeper. From the other angles, yeah, it looked like he just whiffed on it. But from the one angle, it’s clear that it would have taken a miracle for Szczesny to have reacted to a shot that hard that curved so much and that late.

    On a related topic, does anyone know why sometimes very hard hit balls react like that, and other times they just fly straight? I understand why balls hit with spin curve, but sometimes balls hit with minimal spin go dead straight and other times they act like a knuckleball and dart erratically. And is it something that the kickers can have any control over (e.g., is that why Ronaldo’s free kicks are so deadly?)

  4. John Bladen says:

    Agreed, Tom. Szczesny (can we just call him Chez?) missed the ball (may have just gotten a hand on it as it went by him), but it took an ungodly detour very late in flight. Full marks to Walker on that one… I don’t know of many goalkeepers that would have done better than get a hand on it.

    If you happen to be around training grounds of professional squads, you will sometimes see them practising dead ball kicks… and one of the things they like to try to do is exactly what you’ve said: Hit the ball dead through the air. It is a “knuckler” effect, though I don’t honestly know if the players can control where it dives to – I suspect not.

  5. John Bladen says:

    Bobby: Atkinson’s miss was appalling, but what can one do? If he saw it “differently” than it actually happened, he has to call it – which he did, immediately. I would have liked to see him consult the other officials, but when it happened right in front of him it’s hard to see how he could have justified doing so.

    LFC did wear them down, but Everton had their chances (both before and after the Rodwell incident) and just didn’t put them in…

  6. John Bladen says:


    “By scoring in the Liveprool derby, he already paid back all his transfer fee, no matter how stupid it sounds.”

    Seriously? Only someone who didn’t write the check to Newcastle could think that. I’m sure other LFC supporters might agree with you, but in no way does a single goal against a man down Everton side equate to $50m in ‘value’.

    I’m interested to see how Carroll is doing by next spring, but thus far, frankly, he looks nothing like worth the money spent on him. Ask Capello!

  7. TomL says:

    I figured that this was something the players try to do intentionally on occasion. I know they wouldn’t have any control over what direction it breaks (baseball knuckleball pitchers don’t either). I’m still baffled by the physics of it though. Knuckleballs work primarily because of the baseball’s prominent, raised seams and their non-symmetric pattern ( i.e., the swerving is caused by the differential air pressure caused by the varying orientation of the seams as the ball slowly rotates.) But a soccer ball has minimal seams and they’re symmetric, so I have difficulty seeing how the soccer ball can sometimes behave like a baseball.

  8. Russell Berrisford says:

    TOML- the ball swerves because of the “Magnus Effect”.

    I don’t pretend to remotely understand it, but this wikipedia entry makes the claim that the FIFA 2010 match ball had a much more uncontrollable (and therefore unpredictable) swerve.

  9. Ed Gomes says:

    Like I said, I was going to get killed for it. Yes the ball that Szczesnie let in dipped late, but it wasn’t knuckler. It was actually swerving to his right right all the way, and it dipped further as it got closer.
    I hope that its ok to provide a link, but this one shows view from behind goal.

    Yes the ball swerved, but he should have stopped it. It wasn’t that great a shot. I think that Arsenal fans want to hang onto anything better than Almunia, tso Szczesny will get plenty of breaks.
    I get it, since he’s made some tremendous saves that’s kept them in games, but I also remember Almunia doing the same early on.
    And no, I’m not an almunia fan or family member. LOL.

    Ball technology for better or for worse has come a long way. We are guaranteed to get a new “innovative” ball, at least every four years. Addidas makes a ton of money off any “new” ball that is launched for the World Cup.
    I personally liked Teamgeist that was used in Germany 2006. The other ball that was noticeably better was Questra used in 1994.

  10. John Bladen says:

    Ed: No-one’s “killing you” for it. You are entitled to your opinion that it was an easily stoppable ball. I just disagree. It would be interesting to hear from the goalkeepers in the group… anyone out there?

    At least in my day, keepers were taught to set themselves before catching an aerial shot. Hence late movement is hard to adjust to, particularly dips/dives.

    BTW, I missed it earlier, but in discussing Carroll you mentioned “he’s a loved brit with the added value of England squad success”.

    Can you provide a link to “england squad success” of any kind in the last 15 years? I don’t remember it…

  11. J Rob says:

    The Rodwell sending off might be the worst televised decision I can remember. Martin Atkinson was in a perfect place to see exactly what happened.

    I doubt Liverpool would have won with ten Everton players on the field. While not as bad as against Spurs last month until Rodwell’s departure they had real problems passing out of defence.

    As a LFC fan I am disappointed by this season. Towards the end of 2011/2012 Liverpool played some lovely pass and move football and scored goals for fun for a few games. Now as of then they play better without Andy Carroll in the team. With the exception of Jose Enrique and Craig Bellamy I am unconvinced of their new signings. Henderson is too raw and Adam too slow. Defense-wise – how I wish we could have bought Phil Jones.

    In a nutshell if Parker stays fit and Adebayor stays interested I don’t see Liverpool beating Spurs to fourth spot not even counting the possibility of a significant improvement in Arsenal.

  12. Ed Gomes says:

    John Bladen, when I say “England squad success”, I mean getting on it and playing. Remember for Brits, just getting on the squad and playing is deemed great. It will bring people out for the merchandising. Even if he only scores vs the worst opponent in qualifiers or in friendlies, there will be an uptick in merchandising. Yes, even for his Liferpool jersey.
    You know that.

    A couple curious things.
    The Boston Red Sox didn’t make the playoffs, so they have missed out on a ton of revenue. They have a huge payroll and playoff revenue is very important. Hence the manager getting fired.
    Will that have any impact on Liverpool? They have already spent a lot, but will they be able to pick up a needed piece in january?
    What will take place if they don’t make the Top 4?
    It will be interesting to see. I make dislike Liverpool, but I also know their buying reach. They could and should bring in a ton of money worldwide. But if they don’t get back to CL, it will diminish their reach, money and player quality.

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