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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.


Raves and Rants – A Particularly Grumpy Edition

Written by on February 1, 2012 | 13 Comments »
Posted in General

Some of the best of the soccer web with an atrocious piece thrown in now and again.

An article by Jeff Koyen in Sports Marketing 2012 on the marketing of soccer in the United States and where it may be going.

Richard Poplak with a must read for Canadian readers and others. has the 5 key mistakes made by Arsene Wenger since 2005. My mistake was reading this article.

An error for allowing Patrick Vieira to move at the end of the 2005 season?

Not a commonly held view when Arsenal reached the 2006 Champions League Final was it?

The Arsenal fans should have been allowed to watch Patrick Vieira and Cesc Fabregas play together in midfield? Anyone who watched Arsenal at that time knows full well that the Fabregas and Vieira central midfield did not work.

In a case of picking two-out-of-three in central midfield it was clearly a case of who was going to play alongside Gilberto Silva. He was the one that the other two could not replace.

Patrick Vieira only managed to play more than 30 games in a season once in the six seasons between his move from Arsenal and retirement.

Mathieu Flamini should not have been allowed to leave on a Bosman transfer in 2008. The 2008 version of Flamini was a valuable property.

Prior to 2007/08 you could have counted on the fingers of one hand the supporters who rated Flamini. It is pretty common knowledge that in 2007 Arsenal was ready to sell Flamini to Birmingham but the player turned the move down knowing that he would free to sign for any team a year later.

Flamini had a career season at just the right time and Milan signed him and paid him around $140,000 a week. Does anyone seriously think Flamini was worth that sort of money?

Thierry Henry had two great years with Barcelona? Did he really – not that I remember.

And there are lots more where these ones came from. 

Andrew Jennings with more on whether or not World Cup TV rights were transferred from FIFA to Jack Warner for a song.

Ian Doyle takes a look at the issue of safe standing areas that is currently being debated in England.

Kurt Badenhausen has a piece in Forbes on the world’s 50 most-valuable sports teams. 

How many people fell for this brilliantly written piece by Andi Thomas? A little dip of the shoulder sent a lot of people the wrong way I think.

Gary Neville thinks that the big clubs should stop moaning about when they are put under the microscope – it is just the prize they have to pay for being big fish.

Ian Holloway writes on the issue of performance-related pay and sees no reason why it should not be part of a manager’s compensation package.

Adam Moffat is an honest hard-working player who is on his third MLS side since 2007. He started with the Columbus Crew, then moved to the Portland Timbers as part of the 2011 expansion draft and part the way through last season he was traded to the Houston Dynamo.

Anyone who saw his “goal” for the Dynamo against the Timbers is unlikely to forget it. After Brad Davis went down injured in the play-offs, Moffat picked up some of the dead-ball duties.

But to suggest that Moffat is remotely close to international standard can mean one of three things.

One – Scotland decline is far worse than I reckoned. Two – the writer actually believes it. Three – the writer has never spent much time watching Moffat play.

What’s your guess?

Amal Fashanu, niece of Justin Fashanu, considers why no other British player has admitted to being gay in the intervening years. 

A superb piece from Simon Kuper on the top performing managers and there are names that will surprise.

An interesting study by Prozone on artificial turf. What I mean to say is that the study is about artificial turf rather than being actually written on the artificial turf.

Ruth Alexander, a contributor to the always-interesting BBC podcast “More-Or-Less” asks the question – can a computer predict the African Cup of Nations winner? Based on results so far the computer, the bookies and the pundit all have reason to be a bit sheepish.    

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13 responses to “Raves and Rants – A Particularly Grumpy Edition”

  1. Soccerlogical says:

    Interested to know your thoughts on which January transfer will have the best impact on his EPL team.

    For me, it’s Pavel Pogrebnyak who Fulham’s Martin Jol signed from Stuutgart. This formidable Russian is an Uber Crouch/Zigic with some impressive technique to add. Fulham may have just found their Fernando Llorente and with support from the likes of Ruiz, Dembele, Dempsey, Duff and Murphy… Fulham may just nick a Europa League spot.

    PS And if anyone even dares to mention Darren Gibson of Everton…. you will be deported to Anzhi Makhachkala for HARD LABOR!

  2. If Spurs and Saha get lucky and he stays fit then that will be an astute piece of business. Ryan Nelsen to Spurs if an interesting short term addition as well.

  3. Soccerlogical says:

    TY kind sir…. your “TAN in a CAN” is in the mail! 🙂

  4. Sandra says:

    Bobby, Henry may not have “two great years” at Barca but he did have one great year (2008-09) in which he scored a lot of goals, made lots of assists and was an important part of one of Barca’s greatest seasons.

    And in his first season — when Barca struggled, it was Rijkaard’s last season — he was their top scorer (12 goals) and helped them survive a difficult campaign. Barca struggled to score that season.

  5. Ed Gomes says:

    I really liked the Jeff Koyen piece yet it left me wanting more. I agree in the growth of football in the US, which I have continually have said to be understated. It’s getting easier and easier to follow any league abroad. With advertisers and networks seeing tha value in carrying those leagues, it will only continue to grow the game in the US.
    Just because the MLS may grow stagnant or even drop off, it doesn’t mean the sport is dead in this country. Actually nothing could be further from the truth. The US sports fan loves stars, drama and historic significance to their teams. What better place to find that than in European Leagues.
    The Champions League is due to have a tremendous explosion in this country, and should be marketed heavily by UEFA, never mind FOX.

    The most valuable sports teams piece was also interesting.
    I just finished reading a piece in Futebol Finance that lists the top brands in football in 2011. There’s a bit of fudging on their numbers, due not only taking revenue and debt into account, but strength of squad and marketability as well. Those two can be very subjective.
    In any they’d list, Man United first followed by Real and Barca. Followed by Bayern, Chelsea and Arsenal. In Arsenals case they only dropped to 6th from 5th, but More significantly It was a 13% drop. Like I mentioned in previous posts, Arsenal sponsorship deal will prove to be highly inadequate by today’s standards.
    City is sitting 11th which was a 97% increase from the previous year.

    I’m hoping that a piece on the transfer season will be put up. It would be grat to discuss buys and missed opportunities.

  6. John Bladen says:


    The ‘turf’ article was really interesting. Sadly, the sample size used for comparison is too small to make any definitive conclusions about the benefits/drawbacks. I’ve always believed that a grass pitch is better (if for no other reason than that players are more used to and comfortable with same) all things being equal.

    However, this holds only for games played in good conditions and on a well maintained pitch. It’s rare in this age to see the kinds of shoddy potholed pitches that were relatively common even in the top tiers of the game 25-30 years ago. But when bad weather does intervene, I’d suggest that top quality artificial turf can and often does produce a better contest than a natural surface.

    As for ‘specials’ and one offs… we’ve all seen too many appalling games played on patchwork dead grass laid down over plastic turf because “someone” won’t play on artificial pitches. As the Champion’s league final in Moscow a few years ago showed, that is the worst of both worlds. With an all weather pitch available and days to decide what to do, they chose to play on soggy dead turf laid on top. What a farce.

    The arguments over unnatural bounces and the like are ludicrous. Elite players can adapt to any surface (grass pitches change a lot based on humidity, temperature and season) within a few minutes of practice. That’s a good part of the reason for the prematch warmups… every pitch/stadium is different.

  7. John Bladen says:

    Ed: Stable growth would seem to be the key “this time”. In the past soccer has tried to ‘splash’ here with big names and little underneath to support it. That failed. But there is legitimate interest in the sport in North America. It may be decades (or centuries) before it can be mentioned as one of the three major professional sports here, but I am firmly convinced it is here to stay this time.

    Bobby: What are your thoughts on the Holloway piece?

    I understand his POV, but profit sharing with employees (which managers are) is normally done out of club or business earnings, not via asset stripping (which is generally done by the owner, corporate raider, or bankruptcy trustee…) In Adam’s case he was clearly going somewhere anyway. But that will not be the case for all situations.

    That said, if Holloway had a clause in his contract that gave him the right to a small share of net transfer proceeds on players he both bought and sold, fair play to him.

    As Holloway pointed out, it does bring conflict of interest into question, though. Just saying “No manager would ever want to sell his best player” might be a truth, but it isn’t enough. A manager with crippling personal debts who needed the $100k or so very well might feel he had no choice…

  8. Believe me when Charlie Adam signed for Blackpool he was on the way down not up. Blackpool resurrected his career. I have mentioned it before but Walter Smith said that when at Rangers Adam would be booed coming on to the pitch he was playing so poorly.

    I believe one on the effects of Financial Fair Play will be a return to a more incentive based contracts for players. It is one way that clubs can mitigate some of the risk of a bad season where Champions League money drys up.

  9. tim villarreal says:

    i seen A. Moffatt play in Columbus about a dozen times and was never impressed…i say the writer only saw the one goal.

  10. Soccerlogical says:

    i seen A. Moffatt drinking a pina colada at Trader Vic’s and his hair was perfect!

  11. J Rob says:

    Fantastic article on Paul Sturrock and the value of managers relative to wage bills. Maybe another result of Financial Fair Play is that owners will pay a lot more attention to this. Looks like Tony Mowbray is achieving something familiar at ‘Boro this season

    Louis Saha may be an inspired ‘Moneyball’ purchase or could turn out to be a waste because of his inability to stay fit.

  12. Ed Gomes says:

    JB, I think that there’s more than just “legitimate” interest in football in the US. Just because the MLS may not have the following, it has nothing to do with the popularity of the sport in this country. Leagues abroad are easily followed and celebrated.

    Bobby, am I the only one that thinks Financial Fair Play is a farce? First and foremost the billionaire owned teams can easily circumvent the rules. City can sign extravagant sponsorship deals with the owners other ventures/businesses in order to make up for their spending. I understand that as of right now there’s a great divide between the haves and have not, but that’s the way its always been.
    People tend to think that parody is great for sports. Nothing can be further from the truth. The most watched finals/playoffs always involve “Big” clubs. The facts point to greater TV audience/revenue when the Yankees, Red Sox, Lakers, Celtics, Barca, Real, Man United, etc… are involved. If UEFA thinks that it will prosper in diminishing the reach that Man United, Real, Barca, Milan, etc… have, they’re crazy. The cinderella story is always nice, but they better be facing huge clubs in the semis or finals. Otherwise only the football mad fan will follow it, and the casual fan will stay away.
    (I didn’t mention NFL teams due to that set up being very much like European football leagues. As per example, Green Bay is said to be a small market, but that’s a falsehood. The fact is that Green Bay, very much like the Cowboys, have a huge national following.)
    If people are worried about the smaller being left behind, they’ve always been. Owners of those clubs have aspirations of becoming big, but the fact is that they are better suited to be middle of the pack and competing for Europa once in a while.
    As per example, Sampdoria making it into the Champions League, killed Serie A. The owners pocket the money involved and sold off pieces, instead of reinforcing the squad. Them making it had a lot to do with Serie A’s coefficient drop.
    What I’m trying to say is that Presidents, very much like politicians lined there pockets and scream foul. It’s shameful that there’s a ton of clubs throughout Europe that don’t have a jersey sponsor. These presidents are living off tv money instead of reaching out to their communities and growing there brand within their city. They’ve taken fan loyality for granted, and that is a major loss in their revenue.

    I enjoyed the piece on the most valuable managers but something caught my eye;
    “In fact, Szymanski’s list helps us understand just how much value Ferguson and Wenger add to their clubs. United and Arsenal are not in fact outsize spenders. For many years they barely outspent some of their frustrated rivals. Both clubs tend to live within their means.”
    * All figures in pounds
    For 11/12 campaign the EPL is a -203,689,200 in the transfer market.
    Man United: -37,483,600
    Arsenal: +13,609,200 (Cesc & Nasri)
    Chelsea: -62,708,000
    City: -55,294,800
    Liverpool: -38,486,800
    Spurs: +30,844,000 (Pav, Crouch Palacios)
    Newcastle: -8,910,000
    Out of the EPL’s 20 clubs only 6 made a profit in the transfer market for the 11/12 campaign. Granted this is a buying league.
    If you break down Transfer Effeciency ( does) the most effective buyers, from the bunch I listed, were Newcastle and Spurs. Arsenal might have made a tidy profit, but their purchases and sale’s have not been very effective in their run of play. Just a thought.

    Sorry for the long post.

  13. Rob says:

    If Charlie Adam starts to put in peformances like he did against Wolves, I will be the first to admit I was wrong about him.

    Its about time he started providing for Liverpool.

    Did anyone else see Swiss Ramble put down the article put forth by Simon Kuper?

    Also loved the science-fiction by Andi Thomas. It honestly was very entertaining. Hopefully it will be coming to a theatre soon.

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