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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.


Monday Musings – Perky FA Cup, Smudger Smith & Barca Drift

Written by on January 30, 2012 | 5 Comments »
Posted in General

Down to the last sixteen in the FA Cup and only Liverpool are in a position to do any sort of domestic double this season. It is usually once we get into February that we hear and read about how triples and quadruples are possible for some club or another – needless to say such premature postulations prove to be as effective as a board vote of confidence in a manager.

With Manchester City and Manchester United out of the competition we have six of the top ten already through to the 5th round and another, Sunderland, could join them if they can see of Boro’ in a 4th round replay. Everton and Bolton make up the rest of the Premier League contingent. 

If Sunderland do qualify their match against Arsenal will be the only all-Premier League affair. It also means that we might be in for most competitive and compelling FA Cups for sometime – especially if the teams fighting for European spots can maintain a commitment to the Cup.

The transfer window will close shortly but it has been one of caution and loan deals so far. Tucked away over the weekend was the announcement of Newcastle loaning Alan Smith to MK Dons on League One. Ironically it is the most we have heard of Smith for over a season as he has very much become the forgotten man of English football.

Smith emerged with Leeds as an 18-year-old striker in the latter part of the last century and immediately made an impression with his touch, ability to lead the attack and his aggression. His form was instrumental to Leeds European adventures in reaching the last four of the 2001 Champions League and he narrowly missed going to the 2002 World Cup.

Few would have predicted at the time that once Alan Smith left Leeds his best days were behind him. After Leeds were relegated Smith moved to Manchester United but he never convinced as a striker and there was also the ludicrous suggestion that Smith was going to replace Roy Keane in United’s midfield.

A badly broken leg at Anfield certainly did not help Smith but it was clear long before then that Smith did not have the pace to play as a front line striker anymore and he certainly did not have the temperament or positional discipline to play in the centre of midfield. 

After a move to Newcastle the pattern of trying to fit a square peg into a round hole continued with the same predictable result. Now with Smith clearly not able to challenge for a place in Newcastle’s squad, he has opted for a place in League One with MK Dons.

It is the latest episode in the slow decline of  player who looked at one time like he might become the England striker for years to come. At age 31 others of his generation are still enjoying football at the top-level – for Smith that ended a number of seasons ago.

With a gap that has now extended to seven points Barcelona now needs help from multiple teams if they are going to pull in Real Madrid and win the Spanish title again. It is easy to jump to the conclusion that if Barcelona don’t win this season’s La Liga then it will somehow impact on their “legacy.”

The thing is if you go back to the great Real Madrid side of the 50s you see that their greatness was defined by five European Cups rather than European trophies and Spanish league titles.

During the years Real Madrid picked up the European Cup between 1956 and 1960 they only won two league titles – 1957 and 58.

Athletic Bilbao won in 1956 and Barcelona won consecutive titles in 1959 and 1960. What’s more Real never completed a domestic double during that time.

The sixties were far more successful from a domestic perspective with eight titles in nine seasons between 1961 and 1969 for Real Madrid. The club only won one European Cup during that spell and that was in 1966 against Partizan Belgrade.

Which era do you think is remembered more?

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5 responses to “Monday Musings – Perky FA Cup, Smudger Smith & Barca Drift”

  1. redfan says:

    I think the era any of us remember will largely be determined by the team we support. For me there are times when I sigh with a degree of sadness when looking back the old first division and Kenny’s team of the late 80s, but the premier league started a new era in itself and has provided some stunning seasons where different teams have excelled.
    When I was at school Burnley were in the top flight, I witnessed Watford and QPR in the top 4 of the first division and that is not forgetting the likes of Huddersfield town and Sheffield Wednesday who were both first division outfits.
    Money has changed much about top flight football in the UK and I think Scottish football only looks so pedestrian now because of the inevitable comparison with the PL south of the border. If Hadrian’s wall is figuritively rebuilt in the form of independence anytime soon. it will forever scotch any chance of scottish teams joining the PL.

    I like the FA cup and this years is proving quite the eye catcher, with Crawley and Stevenage doing their stuff. With the remaining top teams now nicely spread across the fifth round draw, things look set for an interesting quarter final draw and after such a tough week with the Manchester double, I hope Liverpool get a little fortune in the draws and rounds to come. Brighton is not Spurs nor Chelsea and it is a home tie so I am quietly pleased with that one, even though it is a potential banana skin.

  2. Soccerlogical says:

    Remember when Alan Smith was Manyoo’s super-sub?

    So who is more desperate for a cup trophy, Wenger or Dalglish?

    Great piece of Business by Lazio, should they get Keisuka Honda of CSKA.

    For me , the most interesting transfer is where Chris samba will end up, Tottenham, Arsenal (hope hope!), QPR?

    re: Bilbao
    One has to think that Bielsa is the obvious replacement for Pep or Jose, no?

  3. J Rob says:

    Ok…bold statement here. If I were a betting man I’d take a punt on Sunderland for the FA Cup. Think you’d get great odds and with a talented team (albeit one desperately in need of a striker by the transfer deadline) and especially O’Neill at the helm I think they have a great chance.

    My mother who’s a ‘Boro fan may have other ideas.

    One thing is for sure. With the Manchester teams now absent a lots of fans and teams must be licking their lips at the thought of glory at Wembley.

    Great stats on Madrid’s most interesting

  4. J Rob says:

    On Madrid’s most famous period vis-a-vis La Liga. Apologies for interrupted comments. Damn ‘smart’ phone.

  5. jimsakeeper says:

    I have to say when I think of RM’s dynasty, I hear the names Puskas, Di Stefano, Kubala, Del Sol, Gento. SO late 50s and beginning of the 60s?

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