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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.


No Doubt About It Silva Is Quite Good, Stroppy Suarez and Aston Villa Looking Like….

Written by on September 25, 2011 | 13 Comments »
Posted in English Premier League, General

It seems that David Silva has now been accepted by the English media as another foreign player who seems to be quite good. Of course, there have been a good number before Silva and there will be more after.

Nonetheless, I continue to be amazed at how many pundits and commentators seem genuinely surprised that players who had success in their domestic leagues and internationally turn out to be so good – even better than some domestic players.

Yes, there have been players that have moved to the Premier League from foreign leagues and who have failed to make the grade. But maybe a good number of the failures might be down to clubs overpaying and under researching.

He is not a superstar and he is never going to be regarded as one of the best foreign players to grace the Barclays Premier League.  But watching Sylvain Distin on Saturday for Everton against Manchester City it struck me that he has to be one of the most under appreciated players over the last decade.

Initially signed on loan by Newcastle United he opted for a permanent move to Manchester City at the start of the 2002 season. And since then whether it be during his five years at Manchester City, his two seasons at Portsmouth or at his present club Everton he has gone about his job in a no-fuss way.

He is good in the air, quick on the ground and never one to shirk responsibility.

Four times he has played in all 38 Premier League games and has never played in fewer than 31 in a season. City paid around $6.5M for him in 2002 and Everton paid around $8M to sign him from Portsmouth. Pompey got Distin on a Bosman.

Every club could do with having a Distin.

There was much discussion about the reaction of Luis Suarez when he was substituted to make way for Steven Gerrard on Saturday against Wolves. The substitution came reasonably late in the game but Suarez was not pleased.

A sports drink bottle was dispatched as swiftly as he had taken his goal as he marched stroppily towards the Liverpool substitutes bench. The TV cameras then caught him sitting on the bench with arms crossed and a face that looked like he had lost a dollar and found a dime.

When a goalscorer pulls a stunt like that we usually hear that it just shows how hungry he is far goals. And of course his manager should be pleased that he doesn’t want to come off.

But surely it has nothing to do with whether or not a player is pleased at being substituted – let’s face any player at that level who is happy being taken off should not have made it that far. What is at issue is the selfishness and petulance.

Can you imagine Kenny Dalglish pulling a stunt like that on the likes of Jock Stein or Bob Paisley?

Suarez owes Dalglish and his teammates an apology and a charity of his choice a decent sized donation.

On Saturday Arsenal put in a first half that must have left some fans thinking that they  may never see their team play well again. The second half was an improvement but not much more. A crisis of confidence is being bandied about liberally but it seems that there is one Arsenal player who seems happy to turn and run at defenders.

He just arrived from Lille during the summer but Gervinho brings a directness in attack that Arsenal have not had for some years.

Maybe he could have a word with Theo Walcott who has seen his natural game give way to hesitation.

With Ivan Klasnic suspended it was more than a little surprising that Kevin Davies was on the bench for Bolton against Arsenal. It was only the second time in 118 games that Davies had not started.

His absence was limited as his replacement David N’Gog had to leave the game after a couple of heavy knocks. But nonetheless when Davies came on he was largely ineffective against a side that he has consistently caused problems for over the years.

I noted that earlier in the season against Liverpool Davies was downright docile.

Is it a case that the barrel-chested striker is rapidly coming to the end of his Premier League career?

Aston Villa are unbeaten in six Premier League games this season. But based on their last two results goodness knows how they have managed it. Against Newcastle and QPR they held 1-0 leads only to have to settle for draws. But on both occasions they spent large periods of the games badly outplayed and dominated.

I hate to say it but Aston Villa are beginning to take on more than a passing resemblance to ……Birmingham City.

Stats Facts

Robin Van Persie’s second goal against Bolton was his 100th for Arsenal – the 17th player to hit that landmark.

West Brom played to a 0-0 draw with Fulham. It was their first scoreless draw in league matches in 76 games.

Newcastle consolidated their very solid start to the season in beating Blackburn 3-1. It was their first win by more than a single goal in a dozen league matches.

Arsenal’s three goal second half against Bolton was the first time this season they have “won” the second half in a league game.

The red card issued by referee Mike Dean to Fernando Torres was the first he had given out this season.

Bolton’s loss makes it 13 out of their last 14 away matches.

Yes it was only Swansea’s 10th visit to Stamford Bridge since their last win there in 1925 but it is still a long time!

Swansea went in to the match against Chelsea having conceded only 31 fouls this season and having never hit double figures in a game. They broke that mark on Saturday conceding a dozen.

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13 responses to “No Doubt About It Silva Is Quite Good, Stroppy Suarez and Aston Villa Looking Like….”

  1. jimsakeeper says:

    “West Brom played to a 0-0 draw with Fulham. It was their ___ scoreless draw in league matches in 76 games.”

    are we missing a stat?

  2. Soccerlogical says:

    A bit of an overreaction towards Suarez, no?

    I have no problem with a very competitive, talented and hungry player getting pissed when he is subbed, as long as he doesn’t hit the coach. I think most managers empathize with a player getting subbed and know it’s part of any competitor’s psychological makeup and they just need some time to cool off. I for one would be more concerned with Lampard’s and Marquez’ antics.

    re: Silva
    I think UK pundits are not used to seeing a player with such confidence and ability in controlling the ball in such tight places. An ability (and confidence) which is definitely not in the English player’s skill set (at least not since Hoddle).

    re: Arsenal
    The true test will come against Tottenham, not a struggling Bolton side which had no real attacking options up front.

  3. Carmelo says:

    Thanks Bobby for noting the incredibly annoying yet almost deliberate “ignorance” of the English media towards any talented footballers born on the “continent” or in South America God forbid… I find it so unprofessional & irritating, that they still act so surprised when a C.Ronaldo, Silva, Torres, Hernandez, Arteta, Aguero, etc. succeed in the BPL.
    I studied International Relations & one of my favorite courses was International Communications. “positive racism” happens when you highlight the fact that they’re are few South American players being successful in the English football, you’re by definition implying that they are not good enough or not tough enough. The typical English commentator acts as if every left back in England plays like Stuart Pearce (LOL) Capello wishes Baines or Cole resembled Pearce in his prime!
    Additionally British (and American) broadcasters love to typecast footballers, the tricky South American…really? Dunga, Gilberto Silva, Simeone, Sensini, Ayala… I also love the typical over-used argument of how physical the Premier League is, and it is physical I agree, but it is not a different sport! With a bit of faith, backing and time, talented and dedicated individuals do adjust, some quickly (Chicharito) some take a year or so (Lucas) but that all idea of BPL being so physical a Suarez “might” cope, is an insult, because it is simply an English way of saying we are tougher or bigger and stronger than them they might now deal with that… This is 2011, the world is globalized, the Premier League would not be near as wealthy were it not for foreign investors, that means more than owners, TV money, shirts, marketing & the owners of course., It is entirely to they’re credit, I am happy & I will applaud the cash cow that is the Barclays Premier League all day, but to use it as an instrument of English pride and “Englishness” is a tiresome ploy by the whole of the English media….. thank you Bobby for not being like that !!
    just a reminder to the whole of the English media:
    World Cups: England ( 1 ) Brazil ( 5 ) Italia ( 4 ) Uruguay ( 2 ) Argentina ( 2 )
    Champions League winners: Spain 13 Italy 12 England 11
    Uefa Cup winners: Italia 9 Germany 6 Spain 6 England 6
    maybe other nationalities can play a little football too !!!
    P.S. (2) lol
    and bring on Stoke City on a bloody Tuesday night in December…. as if all games are played in those conditions…. laughable arguments…..

  4. JIMSAKEEPER – sorry “First”

  5. Ed Gomes says:

    Great comments by Soccerlogical and Carmelo.

    Silva is a tremendous player, that would be successful at any league in any team. He’s not only great on the ball, his vision is just as good. He’s a strikers dream, or anyone who is willing to make a run at goal, for that matter.

    Suarez shouldn’t have over reacted, but based on performance it would have made more sense Carroll coming off for Gerard.
    It’s hard to criticize Dalglish due to what he has been able to accomplish, but I wonder if he’ll be able to bring them Silverware.
    Comminucation with players is huge in this day and age, and should Liverpool faulter just a bit, they will find themselves having to sell Suarez to someone. In other words, unable to turn down the money.
    By the way, I wonder if Carroll has been the merchandising success they hoped he would be. That was a mighty large sum they paid.

    No matter what Wenger or RVP say, it’s a big deal that he didn’t resign when asked to.
    I have never been a Walcott fan. Yes he’s got pace, but exactly what else. He is not good with the ball at his feet. Most of his shots are off target or right at the keeper. If you notice, all his goals come when he is running at goal and only needs to touch the ball in order to score. Even his decision making and passing is suspect.
    He will be cheered due to how open he gets with his pace, and will make the occasional nice curling goal. But if you watch him, too much is left on the table with tis guy.

    It was stupid red card by Torres, but he’s looked much more lively since he scored vs Man United. Chelsea have to be pleased.
    I have been a huge fan of Ramires since his days at Benfica. He will squander a few opportunities, but he’s a tireless worker. He will run all day, and be the chippy player on your team that you like.
    Terry is still on the field since it’s easier to take Lamps off?

    McLeish is the new skipper at Villa, right? That answers that.

    I didn’t watch the match, so I’m asking. I know that he scored, but how did Bale do. In most of the matches I’ve seen him play, it’s just a “give him the ball and let him run with it” approach. Am I the only one that thinks Bale should be used better, or should have been more, I don’t want to use the word dominant, but at least more effective?

  6. Soccerlogical says:

    ED – As an Arsenal supporter, I agree on Walctott. Very inconsistent and frustrating player with pace who has plateaued as a player. He will never be able to cross a ball or be a top finisher and lacks the necessary guile and football intelligence.

    re: Bale
    Word is that opposition know he relies on his pace and he lacks the trickery of top wingers like Ribery, Robben, Young, etc. He needs a few more step overs in his game!

  7. Ed Gomes – I did not see the Spurs match but I did see the goals. Bale scored from a near post header from a Modric corner.

  8. Jared says:

    Suarez was definitely bothered that he came off instead of Carroll. Did he overreact? Sure but is it really that big of a deal? It’s not like his temperament should come as a surprise considering what he’s done in his career.

  9. Carmelo says:

    Did anybody see or hear the beginning of the “Sunday Supplement” this weekend commenting on how the Serie A clubs have no identity, the Serie A is not competitive and nobody watches it….. I am reminded daily of how bigot and close minded English media is….. sad… thank God for people like James Richardson, Phil Ball & Sid Lowe…. Derek Taylor mr. broadcasting help me out, why such close minded broadcasting?

  10. Ed Gomes says:

    I am a big believer that Serie A has dropped off tremendously, and that has actually allowed the league to be extremely competitive.
    Before I get killed, let me explain.
    All fans want fairness and corruption out of the game. But the fact has always been that “Big Teams” have always gotten the breaks. Yes, maybe not outright cheating, but breaks nonetheless. I get it because, I understand that leagues need the “Big” squads to remain relevant in order for the league to survive.
    When Juve, Milan, La Viola and Lazio were punished, it really hurt the league. Yes, it may have been the right thing to do, but they are still feeling the effects today.

    If that isn’t enough, the facilities in Italy are old and awful. Juventus finally opened their new facility, but everything else is falling apart. Serie A also has attendance problems. The violence and unpleasant atmosphere also keeps fans away.

    Due to the “Big” clubs faltering in the Champions League and the rest ignoring Europa it has caused the coefficient to drop, so they have lost a CL spot. I wouldn’t be surprised if France passes Italy as well.

    Let me just say that all that has made it possible for this season to be one of the most exciting in Serie A. Clubs will be battling hard to earn a Top 3 spot, and there’s plenty of contenders.
    Due to poor player and/or manager selections, clubs have faltered, where other, like Napoli, have improved.
    In regards to identy crisis I get it.
    – Roma is trying new things, whether Totti likes it or not.
    – Milan is missing a ball controller, to go along with all of that (when healthy) attacking talent. Yes Seedorf is a wonderful player, but he can’t last entire matches for a season.
    – Inter still has players, but none of the newbies scare anyone. Their managerial decisions, starting with Rafa, leave a lot to be desired.
    – Juve is linked with every big name, but gets nobody. Incomptence comes to mind, especially since they are paying Amauri 4 million euros a year while he sits on the bench. Granted, that’s where he belongs.
    – Will La Viola be more than a flash in the pan?
    – Napoli actually spent money, and it seems wisely. Crazy.
    – In Lazio the crazy fans get all the attention. Nothing new here.
    – Palermo wins at home, loses everywhere else. That identity continues.

    So yes, there’s identity crisis in the league, but that in my opinion is making it very exciting. In the end there might not be any surprises, but there’s sure to be some along the way.

    Let me add that the EPL has the luxury of being way ahead in coefficient points. But should their Top 4 start slipping in the CL, the league will take a hit. Excluding Fulham, all other squads ignore Europa.

  11. Gooner Rob says:

    Didn’t Walcott cross a pretty decent cross for the second goal last Sat.? just saying, he has loads of room for improvement, yet has been scoring and assiting far more in the last 18 months.

  12. Carmelo says:

    Ed Gomes, France will not pass Italy in the coefficient formula. No chance, even with the oil $$ that is being pumped into PSG…. in fact the Bundesliga is not that far ahead of the Serie A.
    One thing that happened, medium size clubs like Parma, Fiorentina, Napoli & Lazio lost they’re sugar daddies circa late 90’s… you remember the great Parma team with Crespo, Veron, Thuram, Cannavaro, etc. or the Lazio team with Conceicao, Almeyda, Staam, Mendieta, etc. they were funded by Parmalat & Cirio both went bust…. they along with Inter DOMINATED the Uefa Cup in the 90’s. Thankfully Inter, Milan & Juve are doing just fine, Juve is very healthy I think (newly opened stadium) the Milan clubs are slowly getting younger and trying to comply with the up-coming Fifa Financial fair play, they’ll get there.
    The Uefa Cup in my eyes used to be the measuring stick for the depth and amount of quality in any league, because it is easier to be top top heavy than to have great teams at 5th spot or 6th spot on the table…. but last year the winner of the Europa League took home 3 million Euro….. where Barcelona took home 51 million Euro … small difference ?! that is why clubs all over Europe are finding the Europa League to be a nuisance…. ask Harry Redknapp … but God bless Tony Pulis for taking it seriously…. Gabriele Marcotti correctly points out that Serie A do fine in the Champions League, its the Europa League that we need to take seriously….
    Forza Inter!

  13. Ed Gomes says:

    Italy isn’t that far ahead of France in the coefficient.

    You have to remember that it’s based on the last five years, and after this one, 07/08 will drop off. Meaning Italy will lose out on almost a 4,000 point advantage.
    After this season everything will get very tight.

    Link to table:

    Italy has 5/7 remaining in Europe
    France has 5/6
    Portugal 4/6

    Points will be gained and dropped on how far teams get once and if they get bounce to Europa. For example, if Napoli should drop, they would most likely ignore it and concentrate on a Top 3 finish in Serie A. That would be the same for all Italian teams.
    If Porto or Benfica were to drop they would be able to try to win Europa. Although that league title there has become very congested as well.
    We can argue until the cows come home on whether Napoli or Porto/Benfica is better. but what I do know for sure, is that Porto/Benfica are deeper squads. They are more capable to compete on all fronts.

    I know i went and discussed Portugal instead of France, but that’s because they just might have a shot as well. Especially since they have regained a 3rd CL spot for next season.

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