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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 Forbes.com and Soccerly.com and frequently guest on various podcasts and radio shows.


TANGENTS

Monday Musing’s

Written by on January 16, 2012 | 19 Comments »
Posted in General

I will be heading home in a couple of days after  vacation. I’ve consumed fewer games than I do  at home I have managed to catch my fair share while away. Here are some general thoughts of the games over the last couple of days.

1. With the Wayne Rooney suspension being superseded by the shock return of Paul Scholes there have been very few questions raised about the form of Javier Hernandez. A couple of spells out through injury have not helped Hernandez but I think most people would have expected a better scoring rate than we have seen up to now.

Last season he showed that special gift of anticipation and being in the right place at the right time. This season when he has played more often than not he seems to be out of sync with the rest of the United side.

2. Mikel Arteta missed his first Premier League match for Arsenal since his move from Everton when he withdrew from the starting line up to face Swansea on Sunday. Is it fair to say that we found out that Arsenal’s has no other player who can fill that role competently when the Spaniard has a knock?

3. The “Torres is rubbish” crowd was out again after he was blanked once more – this time against Sunderland. Wonder what we would have heard if his effort that cracked against the crossbar was just an inch or two lower? As it was the rebound proved to be too quick for Lampard who seemed sheepish after “effort” rebounded off him into the Sunderland net.

4. Sometimes it is not what you do but what your rivals do. Juventus dropped two points at home to Cagliari when they could only draw 1-1. The disappointment must have diminished somewhat when they discovered that one of their closest rivals at the top of Serie A Udinese had lost 3-2 away to Genoa.

But that was nothing compared to the impact of Milan losing the derby to Inter. Two points dropped but a point lead opened up when all was said and done.

5. Inter’s change in fortune continued and perhaps the news of Milan’s loss might have been slightly mitigated for Juventus  by the fact that Inter are now within six points of the top of the table. But have seen this picture before. Club in crisis, Claudio Ranieri steps in, “ship” stabilizes and then climbs league. Team gets close but not close enough.

A lot of people would love to see a Claudio Ranieri-led team win a major trophy but until it happens there is going to a black-cloud hovering over his head.

6. How many opinions did we read and hear over the last week about whether or not Spurs were Premier League contenders? It was a mute question – three points behind the leaders with 18 games to go of course they have a chance of winning the league. Two points dropped at home to Wolves on Saturday makes no difference either at this stage.

7. A lot of people seem to be finally talking about the lack of imagination shown by Liverpool’s attack – or more precisely the number of crosses that are slung into the opposition’s penalty. What’s been keeping you?

8. It has been 15 days since the transfer window opened and with the exception of a couple of deals all we have really experienced is a very bad draft.

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19 responses to “Monday Musing’s”

  1. John Bladen says:

    The MLS draft (or, more accurately, the coverage of the scouting combine and “pre draft” stories) is curious to say the least… the stories leading up to it suggested 2 or 3 players that were “ready” to step into any starting line up.

    And yet I believe the highest drafted of those players was on the board until the bottom half of the first round. This and the power rankings… why do they bother…

    PS: liked the Barton tweet. I think he’s going nowhere in both ways… unless it’s to the LC…

  2. Coverage of the MLS draft has irritated me for some time. Way too many phony opinions ripped off from others. The ratio of coverage to impact on the season is way out of whack.

  3. fabr04 says:

    “Is it fair to say that we found out that Arsenal’s has no other player who can fill that role competently when the Spaniard has a knock?”

    Bobby, I think it’s fair to say that Arsenal has no player who can fill that role competently when Arteta DOESN’T have a knock. Like most Wenger signings, Arteta was signed because he was the cheapest available non-awful player for that role. not because he was the best.

    Here’s my Arsenal question of the day: if you were Robin van Persie, why would you stay at Arsenal?

    If you want money, you can get more elsewhere. If you want trophies, you can get more elsewhere. If you want talented teammates, you can get more elsewhere. So why stay?

  4. J Rob says:

    Re: # 7 and Liverpool’s over-reliance on crosses. The more precise problem is the accuracy of those crosses and the lack of Liverpool players making forward runs into the box to connect with them. The game on Saturday against Stoke was a great example of this.

    On numerous occasions this season a decent ball goes into the box with only one player as a potential target. Contrast that with Man Utd. I can’t think of a better side in the modern game at getting players into good positions in the box. See the 1st goal they scored against Man City last weekend in the FA Cup as a great example. Also helps that Valencia is a great crosser of the ball.

    Corners also inflate the Liverpool number. The poor crossing leads to lots of corners which then leads to more poor crosses. I think Liverpool are easily at 150 corners + this season and have only scored from three (1 against Bolton at home and 2 against Villa away).

    Interesting too that while Andy Carroll is considered good with his head that he has only scored with shots thus far this season.

  5. Soccerlogical says:

    Channel surfing last night, I stumbled upon Wenger’s post match comments “.. a few bad decisions caused us to be in a tough situation…”.

    I though he was talking about his questionable Summer transfer dealings and Arsenal’s current fight for 4th but he was referring to the ref’s decisions against Swansea.

    As the likes of Djourou and Squillaci have proved utter crap, would it kill him to have put a bid in for Samba or Cahil? Now that Chelsea have recovered Essien and reinforced their defense.. I am dreading watching Arsenal in Europa League with Thierry Henry up front and perplexed yet very potent strikers like Park Yung and Chamakh warming the bench and RVP partnering Aguerro at Man City.

    *As much as I adore Arshavin, I think time has come to let the starlet go.

    PS Mark Hughes needs to learn some humility from Swansea’s Brendan Rodgers. Gylfi Sigurdson is a very handy midfielder who showed his talent at Hoffenheim and will add to a solid Swansea spine which should keep em up… perhaps at QPR’s expense!

  6. RobN says:

    The transfer window opened and all we’ve experienced is a very bad draft … chuckle … nicely put.

    It will be interesting to see how the inaccurately named ‘superdraft’ will fare as it’s importance seems to be waning, and it has never really had an enormous impact … nowhere close to the hype the league tries to create around it.

    I wonder if this is an example of where MLS has gotten the Euro/N.A. balancing act wrong. Playoffs, conferences, lack of promotion/relegation … these are all North Americanization, if you will, of soccer to try to fit the North American sports crowd (as well as some other important reasons. The conference implementation will reduce TFC’s travel distance significantly this year, for example). Although many would disagree, for the most part I think MLS has gotten these things right (or at least they all have some positive points). However, they seem to be clinging to the idea that to be a major sport in NA you need to have a big college draft like the NFL or NBA. Simply put, the quality of player coming out of NCAA soccer programs is nowhere close to the caliber of player you get out of NCAA football and basketball programs as the latter two represent the major developmental pathway in the respective sports. How long will it be before the various academy programs are blowing away the NCAA and teams are trading their draft pics for a case of beer?

  7. J Rob says:

    Hard to see how Wenger had any reason to complain about officiating decisions for Arsenal’s defeat against Swansea. According to opta-stats you have to go back to the 2006/2007 season for a game in which Arsenal have had such a low amount of possession (39%).

    Arsenal couldn’t retain the ball and with inexperienced full-backs Swansea made them pay. Yesterday clearly wasn’t the day to rest Arteta either.

    Would love to see what Roberto Martinez or Brendan Rodgers would do with a bigger budget. Swansea were clearly the better side yesterday, might have beaten Spurs 2 weeks ago and did well against Man Utd at home and Liverpool away. Their greatest weakness is a lack of penetrative balls in the final third. The purchase of Sigurdson might help to rectify this. His pass to Danny Graham for Swansea’s 3rd goal was top-class.

  8. Tunny says:

    Hey Bobby, when will you be back on the foxsoccer report. Really missed your insightful thoughts…

  9. Myles says:

    I thought the Milan derby was an interesting affair. Going into the game both managers had questions over their squad selection. Inter had begun to play quite well in a 4-4-2, but with Wesley Sneijder fit, Claudio Ranieri was faced with a difficult question; to restore one of his biggest names?- or stick to what was working? He chose to stick with a 4-4-2 and was vindicated.

    Massimiliano Allegri also had interesting selection questions. With Aquilani injured, he chose to play Urby Emanuelson as an attack minded midfielder, and he wasn’t bad , but he didn’t make an impact either. Allegri also surprised many in choosing to partner Ibrahimovic with Pato. Previous performances had indicated they didn’t play well together, and it was the same in the derby.

    Milan certainly dominated the first half, although Alvarez probably had the best chance. However they were not hard done with the result. Inter were patient in their game plan and suffocated Milan by putting ten men behind the ball and asking Milan if they could break them down. Milan couldn’t and their performance was slow an uninspiring almost across the board. They may question what would have happened had Van Bommel’s shot not careened off the crossbar, but they were not good enough to win in the end. After Milito brilliantly finished his only chance (granted it came from an Abate mistake) Inter gained confidence and began to control the game. Milan got a bit better after Robinho and El Shaarawy’s introductions, but it was too little too late.

    Allegri will look back and question his decision to partner Pato and Ibrahimovic (although they weren’t the only players for Milan who underperformed). Ranieri will look back in delight at his teams performance. Many say if one hires Ranieiri results will improve; this is true, but they often neglect to mention Ranieri has never lost a derby in Italy.

  10. Tunny – thank you for the kind words. I plan to back for Friday’s Fox Soccer Report. You do have the podcast to listen to in the meantime.

  11. Judy Murray says:

    We really miss you on Fox Soccer Report! I am curious why so little mention is made about Swansea who, I believe, are doing a great job in the Premier League. Had just about enough of the incessant coverage of the prima donnas at Arsenal and Man City.

  12. Ed Gomes says:

    Dare I say that Wenger is beginning to fall on death ears, very much like Rafa at the end.
    One blamed the owners, finances and lack of players, when in fact he had control and spent a ton.
    Wenger blames the refs and the financial fair play rules not being in place.
    Both buried players after spending money on them, but never blamed the team for anything.
    Rafa to me became a complete empty suit that stopped working hard. He still interviewed well hence him stealing from Inter.
    Wenger has grown stale. To the point that even newbies he brings in don’t fear anything.
    The only reason RVP would stay would be to be the big fish in a small pond. Lucky for Arsenal he just might be that type of guy.
    Ultimately Arsenal fans can thank their lucky stars that Dalglish is in charge at Liverpool, AVB isn’t and might never settle in, and Harry will screw it up.

    Bobby I agree in regards to Chucharito. He has gotten a pass this campaign.

    The MLS draft is as worthless as baseballs. Yeah somebody will come good, but when and for who.

    How great were Ancelottis comments about being offered Torres, Tevez, Berbs, etc. It could at least undermine Chelsea. Lol

  13. Soccerlogical says:

    ED – As an Arsenal supporter I am ware of the fact that Chelsea are always a different animal with a fit Essien and that Spurs have a 10 pt lead (and will probably buy Samba and another striker) and only care about a top 4….. scares the sh@& outta me of the ramifications of Arsenal finishing out of the top 4!

    Wenger has brought this upon himself… HUBRIS and no other excuse.

  14. Carmelo Gabriele says:

    food for thought for everybody: I was watching “La Domenica Sportiva” on Rai International on Sunday night…. a colorful yet generally very insightful programme about Serie A mostly, where the nightly guest were Massimo Cellino (president of Cagliari) and Ezequiel Matias Schelotto young promising Atalanta winger. Anyway here is my point, Cellino (very talkative & opinionated) said that Allegri (who he knows very well from Cagliari) felt like he had to start Pato on Sunday, because let’s face it Allegri & Galliani were ok with him going to PSG, but Berlusconi stepped & vetoed the transaction. Berlusconi said no way he is leaving, Allegri just signed a new deal, so Cellino thought Allegri had to give Pato a chance to prove the doubters wrong & to show he is on the same page as Berlusconi… I though that was probably true…

    On the other hand, Milan looked like they really needed Aquilani… I think, KPB plays a lot better closer to the box he just brings energy & thrust to the attack.. I didn’t think Pato was that bad… I though Ibra was a lot worst…

  15. Ed Gomes says:

    SL all Arsenal fans should be concerned. I doubt Arsenal would be willing to overspend and overpay for “world class” players like City has in order to get back and contend. People seem to forget that Champions League play and winning it still matters to world class players. City was able to spend to get it going and had to continue spending to bring in more pieces, eventhough those players only still saw the possibility.
    All of Wengers talk about Financial Fair Play would also add to the fire that Arsenal won’t spend. There’s always ways to circumvent the rules and should City continue to qualify for the CL, there will be more ease on their finances.
    A couple more notes;
    What looked like a good if not great financial deal in their sponsorship deal, now looks like a horrible one that they’re stuck with. Even the Spurs who had to split up sponsorship have a better deals in place.
    In regards to RVP, I still feel he would rather be the big fish in a small pond. Which begs the question;
    If he is that type of player, do you really want him?
    If he isn’t and Arsenal falls out the CL running his value will lessen do to his very own trade demands, no?

    The good thing going for Arsenal is that the odds are that the teams around them will all fall here and there.
    The Spurs won’t be able to compete wage wise and will sell off stars. Harry is highly overrated to me. They should be better.
    Liverpool will remain stagnant due to Dalglish. There’s one thing getting the fan base and squad envigorated and a whole other thing in getting them to the top and even staying there. This team should also be better than they are.
    Newcastle still has the same owner, right? Enough said.

    Still on the Arsenal front, it seems that PSG has offered something for Arshavin. Not sure of teh amount, but I think that it was stated to be half of what Arsenal originally paid for him.

    On a better note, a paper in Portugal is stating that Arsenal has reached a deal with Lyon’s left back Cissokho. It’s reported a loan deal with an option to buy. I actually really like this player.

    I am truely shocked that Pato is still at Milan. The problem is that he has to be on the field in order to be effective. That means work with Ibra, which is not easy. Could Chelseas swoop in for him, if they let Drogba go?

  16. RobN says:

    Sorry to poke fun Ed, but how does something ‘fall on death ears’? Perhaps next we’ll see a game report where it will be reported that someone scored the winner ‘at the deaf’ (perhaps this would be in a stadium with no fans).

  17. Ed Gomes says:

    Sorry RobN. was typing quickly. I usually have an editor to correct those mistakes.
    i hope that it didn’t take away from the thought/piece.

    As for the stadium with no fans, more than one European big team already deserved to be forced to play dark matches. Unfortunately TV/Money wins out.

  18. RobN says:

    No problem. I’ve done the same thing many times so I don’t have much right to criticize. It just struck me as funny.

  19. Judy Murray – Russell has prepared a piece on Swansea that will be on the site on Friday.

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