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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.


Caught The Eye – Who Shone Brightly & What Needs Polishing

Written by on August 22, 2011 | 19 Comments »
Posted in General

1. Andy Carroll may have cost more but is there anyone who believes he is more important to Liverpool’s prospects than * Luis Suarez?

2. During his time in the Premier League Aston Villa’s Gabriel Agbonlahor has been a quick starter with the majority of his goal coming early in the season. He was kept off the score sheet in the opener against Fulham but an early goal and an assist against Blackburn kick started 2011/12 for him. Makes me wonder why I didn’t use that sort of insight to pick him in the Fantasy Football pool!

3. We have become used to Everton starting slowly but the performance against QPR was more like playing in reverse gear. Everton is the only team in the Premier League not to make a signing this summer and you wonder how often David Moyes can haul them up by the proverbial bootstraps.

4. West Brom drew the toughest first two rounds of the Barclay’s Premier League with games against last season’s champions (Manchester United) and the runners-up (Chelsea). The league table shows two losses but what it doesn’t show is how similar the losses were.

In both games West Brom entered the final ten minutes tied but were undone with last goals. Last week it was an own goal from Steven Reid while at Stamford Bridge Reid was unable to cut off a fantastic cross from Bosingwa and Malouda rattled home the winner.

However, there was enough in both performances to promise a season devoid of relegation problems for the Baggies.

5. Just like the previous game against Stoke when Chelsea upped the tempo and started pinging passes around they put West Brom firmly on the back foot. But just like last week they could not maintain that tempo – is it a case of early season rust or something permanent?

6. He was sent off at a critical juncture with 20 minutes to go but * Emmanuel Frimpong offered Arsenal fans who can look beyond the dark clouds over the Emirates a glimpse of what might be ahead.

This Arsenal team has tremendous challenges in front of it but it looks like the philosophy that built around the skills and needs of Fabregas has been dumped and bit by bit we are going to see a more forceful and direct Arsenal side as the season progresses.

It is now up to Thomas Vermaelen and Robin Van Persie to apply their stamps to this edition of Arsenal.

7. Manchester City should not have been in a position where they were needed to defend a one goal lead late in the game. City dominated in every key attacking statistic but Bolton continued to hang in and carry a threat. Bolton’s Martin Petrov contributed two assists – one from a free kick and another from open play. Nonetheless * Petrov’s inconsistency was there for all to see with only two of thirteen crosses finding a Bolton target.

8. There were a lot of eyebrows raised when City manager Roberto Mancini played Ya Ya Toure in a more attacking midfield role last season. There was also a lot of debate surrounding the different permutations used by Mancini in midfield as well.

Against Bolton on Sunday * Toure reverted to a more defensive role in the absence of Nigel de Jong with * Gareth Barry playing just in front while * David Silva and *  James Milner were handed more attacking and creative roles in midfield.

9. The FIFA Under 20 World Cup in Colombia had a number of high points but perhaps none greater than the final match. Brazil took the cup with the help of a hat trick from Oscar. Portugal had led 2-1 with only 12 minutes to go when a shot by Brazil substitute Dudu was parried by Portugal keeper Mika on to the foot of Oscar.

That took the game into extra time and only Oscar will really know whether the attempt was intended as a shot or as a cross. Nonetheless it turned out to be the deciding goal in a tremendous end to end display from both countries.

Henrique of Sao Paulo was  voted the player of the tournament as well as being top scorer. Both awards make him a player to watch in the years to come. For Portugal Nelson Oliveira of Pacos Ferreira stood out with this aggressive running and pace.

10. Houston Dynamo endured a horrific season in 2010. Early returns from 2011 promised little improvement.

But since then the Dynamo has hit stride and a last gasp 3-2 win at home against Real Salt Lake up to the heady heights of second in the Eastern Conference.

The last 10 matches have brought only one loss and although the likes of the Philadelphia Union, Sporting KC and DC United can all overhaul the Dynamo on the basis of games in hand (Sporting KC and DC United were scheduled to play each other Sunday night) there must be a mounting confidence that Houston can make the play-offs this season.

Against Real Salt Lake Houston came back from 1-0 and 2-1 down to win the game with a dramatic goal from substitute Alex Dixon – his first in MLS.

* indicates performance graphic.

Stats Facts

1. West Brom has not beaten Chelsea in league play since 1979.

2. Blackburn has won just 5 of the 23 Premier League matches under manager Steve Kean.

3. Houston Dynamo took only 18 points from their first 16 matches in MLS this season but have collected 17 from their last 10 games.

4. New York Red Bulls have now drawn more than half of their 26 games this season. Of the 14 draws only two have been scoreless while 6 have finished 2-2 including their last three. And in all three the Red Bulls were forced to come from behind to level the score.

5. Gabriel Agbonlahor’s goal for Aston Villa – and a cracker it was too – was his 50th in the Premier League.

6. Based on recent history Wolves win over Fulham on Sunday should not have been unexpected – Wolves have not lost at Molineux to Fulham since 1985.

7. Last season it took Wolves 10 games to win their first Premier League away match and 17 to record a clean sheet. After two games this season they have already hit these marks.

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19 responses to “Caught The Eye – Who Shone Brightly & What Needs Polishing”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    re: Carroll
    Lots to offer but mobility, pace and clever movement not really part of his game at this point.

    Has a bit of Essien in him which is always a good thing to see in any central mid.

  2. John mclauchlin says:


    Replace Carroll with Heskey and you’ll get all the positive things you’ve described. And without a silly ponytail.

  3. Erik says:

    Who is more likely to still be managing their same side on Opening Day of the 2012 Season:

    Arsene or Sven Goran?

    Can I go for…….NEITHER!

    Make me pick one i go with Arsene because I doubt Sven brings up Leicester and if he fails to get them to the EPL gotta think he will be gone – by his choice or theirs
    Will Mark Hughes be on the sidelines of an EPL side this season and if so – where? Gotta think he left Fulham expecting to get the Villa job and might have stayed if he had known he wasn’t going to get the job

  4. fabr04 says:

    Bobby –

    My cynical view of the EPL is that the magic formula for success is 8 foreigners to win the games plus 3 Brits to take the credit and sign the autographs. I call it the Abramovich Strategy since he pioneered it with Terry, Lampard and Cole (first Joe then Ashley), but it could just as well be the Ferguson (Rooney + Rio + Giggs/Welbeck/Carrick/Cleverley) or the Mancini (Hart + some amalgam of Barry, Milner, Lescott, AJohnson). My point is that Suarez is certainly better than Carroll, but the latter deserves to be more expensive than the former because of the plausible deniability he offers (“of course we’re still an English club – we’ve got Andy Carroll!”)

    On Arsenal, FWIW I have given up on Wenger. A club has to make a choice: are we trying to maximize trophies or to maximize economic return on invested capital? Wenger has chosen the latter…but he’s trying to pretend he’s chosen the former, and I’ m not interested in supporting a manager who insults the intelligence of supporters. His motto should be “words speak louder than actions.” I’m tired of his blaming referees, injuries, weather, pitches, the media, etc. I’m not going to start cheering for a different team, but I am hoping that Arsenal finishes out of Europe this year so that Wenger’s failings (and subsequent evasion of responsibility) can be shown in the cold light of day.

    That said, Frimpong was very good. I didn’t think Miquel was that bad either, considering his age and what he was asked to do. I’m sure he’ll make an excellent replacement for Carles Puyol in a few years.

  5. J says:

    Suarez greatest value is that he evokes panic. You can rattle off a list of dominant physical players rather easily (Kenwyne Jones and Somen Tchoyi deserve some notice, too), but there are only a few who can create such a stir – not just demand the focus of two defenders – but also motivate teammates to make runs into the area.

    Fernando Torres used to belong to that class of player, but now seems to spend most of his time being escorted to the right corner flag. Chelsea seem lopsided, in that Anelka, Malouda and Cole run on similar left-side rails. Now they appear to be purchasing two left-sided, left-footed midfielders…

    Frimpong has been easy on the eye, but how far into desperation at the Emirates must you fall before you seek inspiration from a defensive midfielder? It’s Jack Rodwell and Everton, no?

  6. tim says:

    Suarez is my new pick for fanasty team…its a no brainer…he will lead the league if healthy

  7. Roberto Manita says:

    Carroll is quite simply a Geordie version of Peter Crouch with a pony tail, longer rap sheet, nastier disposition, and sans robotic goal celebrations. As Bobby said on FSR, Suarez will end up being an LFC legend and is already a NT legend. It would take a very intoxicated man to suggest that Mr. Ponytail will end his career being either an LFC or NT legend. Rather, he’ll more likely prove to be the biggest financial flop in the history of the EPL.

    As the old fellas like to say, “Carroll couldn’t even polish Suarez’ boots. Full stop”.

  8. Roberto Manita says:

    The only current member of LFC that could get a game at Barça is Suarez. He is that good. The only useful purpose Mr. Ponytail could serve FCB would be his inclusion in the defensive walls during training ground sessions 😉

  9. Roberto Manita says:

    It’s pretty sad to see Le Boss dithering to such levels that approach incompetence. He told the supporters back in April he would strengthen the squad during the offseason. He and his management team knew early on that they had a very difficult beginning to the EPL campaign plus a vital UCL two legged qualifying tie just to get into the group stage. Losing both Fab and Nasri were very forseeable. Management’s offseason dithering and inactivity has been mind boggling. Against LFC on Saturday, Arsenal started a 19 year old RB whose highest level of play before this year was third tier footy and who even played Conference football last year, a 19 year old holding MF who made his first team EPL debut, and an 18 year old CB who came on early due to injury who also was making his first team EPL debut. Does a “big club” act in this fashion? My have Arsenal regressed. Big time.

    This is going to be a very looooooong season for Gooners. Por que? Mismanagement. Comical mismanagement bordering on criminal mismanagement. I’m totally disgusted at the moment. Same old story. Injuries and lack of investment on ready made players. Déjà vu all over again but this time on a grander scale and it’s happening at the beginning of the season.

    Barman, a triple tequila shooter and a Jager chaser please. Bobby’s your uncle.

  10. Roberto Manita says:

    Memo to Le Boss: Spend Some F*cking Money (SSFM) ❗

  11. Rob says:

    Carroll’s goal against Sunderland was correctly waved off and that wasn’t a “top shelf” save at the Emirates. If that header went in, most would be lambasting Szczesny for not stopping it and then in turn Wenger for not getting a sufficient keeper to handle what should be a routine save in this league. If Szczesny had caught it instead of tipping around the post, that would’ve been “top shelf”.

    Saying Carroll and Suarez is better than Torres and Babel is just plain non-sense. Babel rarely got a start so throwing him in just because he left the same time those came in and left is not a valid comparison. As for Torre, hes was class for us. Yes it sucks he asked to leave but if you can’t see that currently Chelsea offer a better, more immediate shot at the league and Champions League(as we’re not in it) then I would question your ability rate anyone or anything. Also when you say stuff like this, thats the bitterness that belongs with the bluenoses. Take a deep breath and get over the fact that Torres wanted to leave, it doesn’t change what he did for us.

    Also Bobby’s question was who was more important to Liverpool. If you are trying to say harassing defenders is more important or just as important in scoring goals or being the direct link to setting up those goals then it goes back to you having trouble understanding football. I don’t think Bobby’s question in anyway belittles Carroll, it just states the obvious fact. If Liverpool are going to put the ball in the net, Suarez will most likely be the guy Liverpool go through with or without Carroll on the field.

    Now as for the fee I agree with you as LFC has said on numerous occasions that his fee was to be in direct proportion to what they got from Torres. If they got 40m for Torres, Carroll would’ve been 25. Torres for 30 then Carroll for 15. It was always going to be 15m less then Torres. The fee while high, is really a fee that Newcastle negotiated out of Chelsea instead of it out of Liverpool.

    And as to your last comment, ” But then expecting commentators to actually read what they are commenting on is hopelessly optimistic …”

    One could say that expecting commentators not to put what-if statistics as actual fact might be hopelessly optimistic too…

  12. Roberto Manita says:

    Brown Bear – If my auntie had bollocks she’d be my uncle.

  13. Jc says:

    Bobby, what is your opinion about the strike in Spain. I completely support the players as there have been too many clubs who have not paid their players.(Valencia, levante, Mallorca, Hercules) On an unrated note the amount of criticism De Gea is getting is ridiculous. He is a 20 year old kid who has transitioned into a more physical league, bigger team, and sky high expectations. He was signed for 10 years not three games, which man it’d won! Iker casillas being the great goalkeeper he is, had to sit out games when he was younger due to errors and look how he turned out. I think in England there is a lot of skepticism when a foreign player comes in, that the British press hasn’t seen in the champions league, world cup, etc. I heard de Gea getting killed for the mistake he made in the community shield, which I felt was more the defense not closing down dzeko. I saw a more diabolical error committed by the Bolton keeper who is more experienced and was appalled when they blamed the defense for not marking silva better when it was clearly his fault. Sorry for the long rant but it needed to be said.

  14. Rob says:

    Ursus-Nice one.

    I really don’t know how much you remember of that season or the prior one but I’ll remind you anyways. Torres had knee surgery in April, rushed back in action to make the World Cup and then continued to play like crap through the beginning of October and then he had the October break. From October 24th onward he had scored 8 of his 9 league goals and we were pretty much halfway through the season. He was averaging 18 goals/ year so he was right on target. For someone who is so ready to throw out what Andy Carroll did last season for Liverpool because he was coming off injury, its amazing how critical of Torres you are when Torres was actually scoring goals and was coming off injury as well.

    ” LFC AS OF JANUARY 2011, the relevant date, Carroll + Suarez most certainly >> Torres + Babel. The comparison is valid to point out that the respective fees of Carroll and Suarez are irrelevant, given their total cost was a wash with 2 (at that point) failed attackers. If you can’t see that, then I would question your ability to rate anyone or anything.

    Do you even understand what you’re comparing? Are you comparing the price in retrospect to the careers they had given previously? Torres was in form, Carroll was injured. Suarez played in Holland and wasn’t really playing because of suspension and Babel was mostly an unused player who could be very effective when given a chance.

    Or are you comparing the prices and what they’ve done since? Babel plays in Germany not sure what he does and Torres hasn’t been scoring but is playing in more games and is effective for Chelsea. Carroll is effective at times but doesn’t score and Suarez has been very good, getting goals and setting up others.

    Its at best, in your case, a wash every time.

    But if you’re comparing what each player has done for the club(or their respective clubs) up to this point(and Torres and Babel can do no more) and the potential each had at the time of sale which is what I was doing, its not even close. In fact when you put it in perspective about the potential, its not even close. Only Suarez comes close to Torres and he would have be very consistent over the next three years.

    Now to your snide remark of “As for who will be responsible for LFC goals, I congratulate you on your ability to forecast the entire season so assuredly after only 2 games … got any betting tips?”

    Its called watching the game. Are you saying that Suarez won’t be the one who the ball goes through to get the goals? I would understand you thinking Carroll would be the one because he does seem to have the ability to score from range at times and is a tremendous physical force to be reckoned with at times as well but he lacks one major thing: SPEED. Its what sets Drogba apart from him. He doesn’t have the speed to burn defenders like Drogba can do. I would be fully behind you on this but speed is not something you teach, its you have it or you don’t. He doesn’t unfortunately.

    Now thats not to say Carroll can’t be effective for Liverpool. (Look at Emile Heskey, he was very effective for Liverpool.) It just means Suarez has the skill to break down defenses a lot better than Carroll does.

    Now as to the explanation I just gave, thats how I feel Bobby asked the question. Perhaps I’m wrong but thats how I feel he asked that question but I will say I when I first read your post, I did take a minute to re-read what he had proposed to us. So while your posts maybe above my simple mind, I promise I do take the time to read and understand big guy.

    And finally my favorite comment, “Finally, a small piece of advice: it is always best not to assume you understand the motivation behind a comment, but stick to reacting to what was written … you’ll look less foolish that way …”

    Hahaha I really enjoy our talks.

  15. Rob says:

    Ursus-Look I’ll forgive you you’re condescending tone and we’ll both just say that you failed to fully read my original post. Nor will I say that you lack reading comprehension I’ll just re-post a paragraph that I had in my original point:

    “Now as for the fee I agree with you as LFC has said on numerous occasions that his fee was to be in direct proportion to what they got from Torres. If they got 40m for Torres, Carroll would’ve been 25. Torres for 30 then Carroll for 15. It was always going to be 15m less then Torres. The fee while high, is really a fee that Newcastle negotiated out of Chelsea instead of it out of Liverpool.”

    I promise you, I got your point on the fee.

    ” …such as, for example, if Bobby had started this piece simply saying: ‘is there anyone who is more important to Liverpool’s prospects in attack than * Luis Suarez?’ or something similar.”

    If that was your only point then you should’ve just said that. Its not what you said. What I disagreed with was your one comment of saying one pair of players were better than the others and IMO it was non-sense.

    But seeing as this was the only thing you were trying to say, I can see your point.

  16. Gus Keri says:



    You managed, with your own special way, to bring back some of the disenfranchised Liveprool fans to comment on your website.

    Now, the question is: How can you keep them without getting them alienated again by some of your visitors?

    I know you are longing to the old days (of the blog) when both Arsenal and Liveprool fans were in harmony and enjoying a friendly relationship.

  17. Rob

    never get into a debate with somebody who begins a comment with **sigh**

    And never ever get into a debate with somebody who thinks that there is a “subtext” on a soccer website.

    That way madness lies.

  18. Rob says:

    Gus-We’ve been here since the beginning buddy. In fact, I think I was the first to comment on the site here.

    Russell-Haha no worries. Ursus and I go way back. I’m used to him.

  19. Gus Keri says:


    I know that

    Actually most of the old gang have made some sort of a come back. But then, they disappeared. I am not specifying any one, here. It’s a a general statement.

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