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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

Raves and Rants – Mr. Blazer a Mr. Jennings To See You & My Aversion To The Seaside

Written by on August 25, 2011 | 32 Comments »
Posted in General

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

An Irish view of Robbie Keane’s move to the Los Angeles Galaxy.

David Lacey believes that Cesc Fabregas was on a different level to any other midfield player in the Premier League.

Sid Lowe’s La Liga 2011/12 preview but due to industrial action games cannot be brought to you as advertised.

A very insightful piece from Tom Williams on Stoke and the need to be physical if you ae going to be successful in the Premier League.

A season before they enter MLS the Montreal Impact has struggled badly.

Eric Hassli has taken to Vancouver apparently.

UEFA takes Wenger to task while the racial abuse of Alves and Marcelo goes on without any action.

Two decades ago clubs from Scotland and England faced each other on a level playing field but television money changed all that.

The latest from investigative reporter Andrew Jennings – this piece on Chuck Blazer.

Is this what happens when you allow unfettered access to statistics. An edge or an advantage yes, domination – try looking up a dictionary first.

A blog from RossonerOgo on the Senegal national team.

No idea what happened to the Globe and Mail this past week but I can only think that it must have been a slow week and they realized that some people might be interested in soccer. This article is on Portland Timbers’ owner Merritt Paulson.

When La Liga gets going one of the interesting additions to the top flight will be Granada.

Rob Smyth looks back at the days of hard-man managers and there were none tougher than Jock Wallace. You will never read about it in any books but Wallace heavily influenced a generation of coaches and players from serious amateurs up to the professional level – in Scotland anyway.

As Rob Smyth describes, running up and down sand dunes was an integral part of Wallace’s pre-season training regime and when word got out, the method spread like wild-fire. All of a sudden you were not a real team until you ran up and down sand dunes in pre-season. The sand did come with the inbuilt advantage of an easy cover-up when you threw-up.

Many a meal was left on sand hills all over Scotland in the 70s. (Yes, big Ally if you are out there reading this, we all remember!)

The only suspects missing from the “who owns Carlos Tevez” saga are Ken Bates and Don King. In all seriousness a great piece from David Conn.

Chris Nee with an article on the decline of “Brian Little Football Manager“.

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32 responses to “Raves and Rants – Mr. Blazer a Mr. Jennings To See You & My Aversion To The Seaside”

  1. Gus Keri says:

    UCL draw results:

    Group A:
    Bayern, Villarreal, Man City, Napoli

    Group B:
    Inter, CSKA Moscow, Lille, Trabzonspor

    Group C:
    Man Utd, Benfica, Basel, Otelul Galati

    Group D:
    Real Madrid, Lyon, Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb

    Group E:
    Chelsea, Valencia, Liverkusen, Genl

    Group F:
    Arsenal, Marseille, Olympiakos, Borussia Dortmund

    Group G:
    Porto, Shakhtar, Zenit, APOEL

    Group H:
    Barcelona, AC Milan, Bate, Plzen

  2. Gus Keri says:

    Group A is the group of death in my opinion

  3. Champions League – off the cuff reaction
    Group A: Bayern Munich, Villarreal, Manchester City, Napoli.

    No team will be happy with this draw. Beware Napoli – should be stronger than last season; downside might be fighting on two fronts. Whoever can pick up points on the road will qualify.

    Group B: Inter, CSKA Moscow, Lille, Trabzonspor.
    Interesting group any two or first three.

    Group C: Manchester United, Benfica, FC Basel, Otelul Galati.
    United and Benfica must be looking forward to February 2012.

    Group D: Real Madrid, Lyon, Ajax, Dinamo Zagreb.
    Why don’t they just put Real Madrid and Lyon together without the benefit of a draw? Ajax in with Real Madrid again – Dutch side will be looking at Europa League place as a more likely outcome.

    Group E: Chelsea, Valencia, Bayer Leverkusen, Genk.
    An experienced Chelsea side should be happy with the draw – Valencia second favourites while Bayer’s Michael Ballack will be returning to the Bridge.

    Group F: Arsenal, Marseille, Olympiakos, Borussia Dortmund.
    A competitive group for Arsenal but one they should still qualify from. Marseille has started slow the last two seasons and if they do so again it might be fatal. Olympiakos – never know what you are going to get. First appearance in CL for a while for Dortmund and they should bring something worth watching.

    Group G: FC Porto, Shakhtar Donetsk, Zenit St. Petersburg, FC Apoel.
    Apoel tough to breakdown two seasons ago and might be again. Europa League however, their best bet – even then it is likely a stretch. Other three – perm any two – Porto will not appreciate two trips to Eastern Europe. Young Shakhtar team should have only improved since last season. Zenit looking to redeem some pride after going out in the play off to Auxerre last season.
    Group H: Barcelona, Milan, FC BATE Borisov, Viktoria Plzen.
    After pots 1 and 2 this had the makings of a classic ..but then…cakewalk for Barcelona and Milan……other two in a two legged play off for a Europa League spot.

  4. Gus Keri says:

    My picks for the next rounds:

    Group A: Bayern and Man City
    Group B: Inter and CSKA Moscow
    Group C: Man Utd and Benfica
    Group D: Real Madrid and Ajax
    Group E: Chelsea and Valencia
    Group F: Arsenal and Dortmund
    Group G: Porto and Zenit
    Group H: Barcelona and AC Milan

  5. Illinidmd says:

    ManUtd, Chelsea and FCB have easy road. Arsenal and Manchester City have to earn they way forward!

  6. Soccerlogical says:

    Should Arsenal not address their defensive frailties and add a few more attacking options, they can easily find themselves in the Europa League with Marseille and Dortmund moving on.

    Dang, Man City got screwed!

  7. Arsenal are not getting through. Arsenal looked worse against Udinese than they have last year. The only reason why udinese didnt beat them was because armero and pinzi and etc dont have goalscoring ability. but, arsenal looked very weak against the counterattack. And, going forward their shape wasnt convincing. At moments, with so many waiting in a straight line for a one two opportunity, it was too easy for udinese to pick them off. Will wenger bring in more players. I think wenger should keep to his strategy. Let arsenal be the 5th 6th place squad it is now, and stay faithful in the youth he has. The premier league only has 4 spots for the CL. ManU, ManC, Chelsea have 3. Liverpool tottenham and arsenal vie for 456. Liverpool is resurged and to me is going to be 4th and deserve it with their style of play.
    Second, Arsenal are an injury prone club, walcott and RVP at any moment can have another injury, and what will happen then. Arsenal’s fans need to accept this club under wenger has a system and because of the money in the game, that system can not support a side that can honestly win.

  8. John Bladen says:

    Bobby;

    The Wallace piece was very interesting. Sadly, these days, you can’t put forward the opinion that the modern game has lost something without being tarred as a dinosaur who thinks the maximum wage should still be capped at the equivalent of $15/wk.

    Most forms of progress cost something. This is true in sport as in life.

  9. John Bladen says:

    CH:

    Arsenal are in the “paying down debt” phase at the moment. They still have a significant debt load on the stadium. Depending on which version of their finances you choose to believe, that debt could be eliminated in 3, 5 or up to 10 years.

    At that point (you pick which one…), Arsenal will be a cash rich club that can spend much more freely than they do now. Others are choosing to spend at a rate that cannot be sustained based on present projected revenue increases. Arsenal may never spend the way Man City, Chelsea or Real Madrid does, but that isn’t a criticism. It’s just sound business.

    They did look bad against Udinese. I would suggest that it was the Italian’s defense that was most responsible for the outcome, however. I’m not convinced that this side (unimproved) can get out of their group either… but we hope for the best (and a transfer signing or two!).

  10. John Bladen says:

    Sorry, typo, that last number should have been 20 years…

    see

    http://www.arsenaltrust.org/recent-news.php?article=332

    Depending on how they choose to use their net transfer proceeds and other cash, the debt could be retired much sooner. It’s tricky to make firm statements about other interests, as their property development proceeds are likely to “substantially underperform” for some time yet.

  11. Soccerlogical says:

    John Bladen- All of us including a few intelligent pundits like Andy Brassell are still unsure about how this Financial Fair Play law will pan out for clubs. But what is certain is the fact that Arsenal were offered by their second largest shareholder Uzmanov to underwrite the entire debt for the stadium which Wenger refused.

    And the second thing that is pretty certain is there will always be Oligarchs, Sheiks and wealthy American investors who will make Arsenal’s fight for trophies all the more difficult especially with clever accountants who can “cook the books”. So if Wenger decides to stick to his current “principles” and vision, I think he better make sure that the fans are willing to accept Arsenal constantly fighting for a CL spot as opposed to being a legit contender for serious silverware.

  12. Gillian says:

    Group A looks to be the most fun, for a neutral anyway. Arsenal vs. Dortmund is intriguing. Likewise, Chelsea/Leverkeusen. Real get Lyon again? How many years in a row is that now? Predictably easy draws for Barca & Man. U, though I really could do w/out seeing those 2 teams in the final for a second consecutive year.

  13. John Bladen says:

    SL: It isn’t a matter of Wenger’s principles or vision. It is a matter of financial realities for the club (UEFA’s FFP rules are irrelevant if a club is spending within it’s means).

    There may always be sheiks and oligarchs willing to overpay for their toys. Or not. We simply don’t know what the future holds. Abramovich may one day no longer be Mr. Putin’s friend. If and when that day comes, I would expect his Russian businesses will suddenly come under the same kind of ‘scrutiny’ that lead to Khodorkovsky’s present difficulties.

    As for the sheiks, their interest in football is fairly recent. It may last, or it may not. Many monied interests have come and gone already, of course.

  14. Soccerlogical says:

    John – What do you mean by “spending within its means”. It’s been documented that Wenger declined to have Uzmanov underwrite the stadium (incidentally David Dein highly recommended taking the Russian’s rubles). And on more than one occasion (both this transfer window and previous ones) we have heard from the board and even Wenger that there is a good amount of money to spend to address certain positions… which Wenger failed to address last season and yet to do at this crucial juncture.

    So if it’s not Wenger’s principles and vision (which has not brought trophies for the past 6 years and seems unlikely to bring any in the foreseeable future considering MU, MC, LIV and CHE depth and willingness to buy top talent to integrate with some youth) and we know that there is an ample transfer kitty… how do you exactly arrive at your conclusion of “…club is spending within it’s means”?

  15. Gus Keri says:

    I don’t think Platini is happy about what is going on with the Europa league this season.

    It lost a lot of big names today to add the fact that few other big ones didn’t even make it to Europe this year.

    As we enter the league stages of both the Champions league and the Europa league, the story will be the number of big teams that failed to appear in either one of them.

    Looking at the top 50 teams in UEFA ranking, we can see that 16 of them won’t be there. According to their ranking order, they are:

    Liverpool, Werder Bremen, Hamburg, Roma, Sevilla, Fiorentina, Bordeaux, Stuttgart, Panathinaikos, Juventus, Spartak Moscow, Rangers, Fenerbache (suspended), Everton, Wolfsburg and Galatasaray.

    Out of the teams that made it to the group stage of the Europa league, only 12 were in the top 50 ranked teams, here are the names:

    Atletico Madrid (highest ranked; 16th), Sporting CP, Schalke, PSV Eindhoven, Tottenham, Dinamo Kiev, Sporting Braga, FC Copehagen, FC Twente, Fulham, Paris St Germain, Anderlecht.

    these are the ones that will go in pot 1 for the Europa league draw tomorrow.

    Interesting facts:

    1- Scotland, Norway, Serbia, Bulgaria and Hungary are the top countries that will not have any representative in any European league this year.

    2- England had all its representatives through to the league stages. A total of 8 (4 in each the UCL and UEL)
    Spain comes second with 6 (4 and 2), followed by Germany, Italy and France with 5 each (3 and 2)
    Is there any doubt which is the best league?

  16. SL – source for the “Wenger declined to have Usmanov underwrite the stadium” comment would be appreciated. First time I’ve heard that one.

    First of all how can a man who is not even on the board decline an offer that would have to be made to the Board of Directors?

    Second Usmanov bought Arsenal shares in 2007 – the stadium was opened 2006 (and obviously financed much earlier).

    Third – underwrite guarantees that funding will be available or that shares will be purchased – it doesn’t mean that someone comes along and pays for something and expects nothing in return. In fact an underwriting fee comes with such a guarantee.

    Usmanov was said to have “offered” to underwrite an additional share issue a couple of years ago – something that is significantly different than “underwrite the stadium.”

    The offer was interesting in so much as it was pure PR – there has never been any speculation that if Arsenal issued additional shares that they would not be fully subscribed in the first place.

    It was the equivalent of guaranteeing that the World Cup Final would sell out.

  17. Soccerlogical says:

    Bobby et al – I was mistaken as it was to underwrite shares… apologies!

    In addition he did guarantee to provide a large kitty transfer (100M) in each transfer window (presumably should he reach majority shareholder). Isn’t that supposed to be a good thing considering the turnover Wenger makes when all his top talent want to leave due to lack of silverware?

  18. Soccerlogical says:

    Explained (I think):
    He offered a £100m share placement, which is basically creating new shares to the value of £100m and giving shareholders the opportunity to buy them, any that are not bought (which would be the majority of them as only the mega rich on the board could afford them) would be bought up by Usmanov. So he would have got more % of the club, but he was offering to put up that £100m which could have been used to wipe off some of the debt. Kroenke and the rest of the board didn’t fancy it. One thing is for sure, he could pay off our stadium debt and it wouldn’t even dent his wallet. In relative terms Usmanov makes Kronke look a bit poor.

    Where is the EDIT button?

  19. Gus Keri says:

    Europa League draw tomorrow morning 9 am EST

    UEFA released the seedings:

    Pot 1:
    Tottenham, PSV Eindhoven, Atletico Madrid, Sporting CP, SC Praga, Schalke, Dinamo Kiev, PSG, FC Copehagen, AZ Alkmaar, Anderlecht, FC Twente

    Pot 2:
    Fulham, Lazio, Udinese, Atletico Belbao, Besiktas, Rubin Kazan, Steaua Bucharest, AEK Athen, Hapoel Tel Aviv, Club Brugge, Standard Liege, Metalist Kharkiv,

    Other well known names, which every one would like to avoid, in pot 3 include:
    Stoke, Birmingham City, Rennes, Hannover, Lokomotiv Moscow

    there is no team to worry about in pot 4 ( including Eoin’s team: the Shamrock Rovers)

  20. Edit button beside the date and time

  21. John Bladen says:

    SL:

    What he was “offerring” was essentially a cash call to the existing shareholders. That is no bargain for them.

    If you were the owner of a business and had the opportunity to invest a modest amount and expand your business by 35% (roughly speaking, the net increase in cashflow predicted by moving to the new stadium), would you do that and let the new cash flow from the business pay for the facility? Or would you make a cash call to your investors – perhaps leaving some of them strapped – and then be vulnerable to takeover (from within or without)?

    What Usmanov was doing with that offer was nothing short of further his own interest… and potentially creating instability that he could exploit.

    I don’t blame him for trying it as it’s ‘business’. But it is no surprise to me that the idea was rejected out of hand by the board.

    RE: Wenger’s kitty

    He has money to spend (if I remember correctly, the agreement with the trust requires that 70% of net transfer revenue be available for reinvestment). He also has time to spend it yet. Your guess is as good as mine whether he will spend or not.

    Several managers have commented that there isn’t much value out there in the transfer market in recent years. While some lesser deals have produced true bargains, look at the big ones…

    Robinho, Carroll, Torres etc. One has already effectively failed, the others will have to play exceptionally well for a very long time to have any hope of being ‘worth’ their fee. And then there’s the Aquilanis of the world…

    In my view, the best managers in the game acquire younger players – sometimes for large sums, yes – and groom them into stars (even SAF does this). The more you look at the true “big” money moves, the less impressive the results.

    In other words, the teams that bought Ronaldo, Kaka and Messi as young players and then sold them on have done far better than the one that broke the bank to buy CR & Kaka in their mid 20’s.

    Wenger hasn’t won trophies with his signings recently. That can’t be argued. But suggesting his approach is wrong ignores the failed examples of many other managers. Silverware doesn’t come from spending alone, it comes from spending wisely.

  22. Gus Keri says:

    Comments on the Europa League draw result:

    Group A:
    Tottenham, Rubin Kazan, PAOK (Greece) and Shamrock Rovers.

    (the worst possible draw for the Irish outfit in their first appearance inthe group stage. Tottenhgam and Ribin should not ahv eany problem qualifying)

    Group E:
    Stoke, Dinamo Kiev, Besiktas and Maccabi Tell Aviv.

    (Stoke is going to spend a lot of time travelling. I see them going through with Dinamo)

    Group H:
    Birmingham City, Braga, Club Brugge and Maribor.

    (Maribor which eliminated Rangers will meet another British side. Braga is the clear favorite but the second ticket to the next round could be any one of the other three)

    Group K:
    Fulham, Twente, OB Odense, Wisla Krakow.

    (Fulham and Twente should not have problem progressing from this group)

    Overall the groups were well balanced.

    The strongest possible trio in one group are in group I:
    Atletico Madrid, Udinese, Rennes (in addition to Sion)

    But the closest group to a group of death is group L:
    Anderlecht, AEK Athen. Lokomotiv Moscow and Sturm Graz

  23. Gus Keri says:

    Seriously, Bobby

    Where is the “Edit” button?

    It’s no where to be found

  24. Gus Keri says:

    The good, bad and ugly news:

    The bad news first: Sion of Switzerland might get booted out of the Europa league for fielding inelligable players and breaking the transfer ban imposed on them by UEFA.

    The good news: Celtics might come back and play in their places.

    The ugly news: They will play with the strongest trio of Atletico Madrid, Udinese and Rennes in group I.

    This will make this group the true group of death.

    May be it’s better for Celtics to stay home.

    Stay tuned.

  25. Soccerlogical says:

    John B – And what would have been the difference between Uzmanov being the major shareholder over Kreonke? Seems like there would have been more money available for all aspects. Unfortunately Uzmanov actually knows the game (as David Dein indicated) and has his own opinions as opposed to Silent Stan and Wenger’s puppet board which is just what Wenger prefers even though he has proved not to be the ideal man to delve into transfer dealings.

    Arsenal is basically a dictatorship at this point.

    Examples:
    Arsenal boss Arsene Wenger has had a bargain-basement bid for Gary Cahill laughed out of town by Bolton.

    Wenger has tabled an offer of just £6million, plus extras, for the England international, which is roughly a THIRD of Bolton’s valuation on their classy centre-half.

    —–

    £60m to spend and Wenger’s priority is still a loan signing
    By Sam Wallace, Football Correspondent, The Independent

    Money burning a hole but Arsenal’s first move is temporary deal for 30-year-old Marseilles midfielder

    Arsenal’s manager Arsène Wenger was in a meeting about transfers yesterday with the chief executive Ivan Gazidis
    Arsene Wenger will turn his attention to bolstering his midfield options over the last week of the transfer window with Arsenal already making fresh inquiries over a loan move for Marseilles’ Argentinian international Lucho Gonzalez and Sochaux’s Marvin Martin.

    Perhaps Wenger is waiting for Wilshire, Ramsey, Gibbs and Djourou to morph into Xavi, Iniesta, Roberto Carlos and Maldini sometime soon so we can beat the likes of Marseille and Dortmund to the CL knockouts and then trump Man City or Chelsea to the title just the time when Walcott morphs into Ronaldo?

    PS All this FFP and sound investing is total BS, You think all these Billionaire owners got to be wealthy by not knowing what they are doing.. come on!

    How serious can this actually be:
    Furthermore, deep in Uefa’s 91-page FFP document lies a safety net. Even if a club misses the break-even target, it can still be granted a licence if it meets two criteria – the trend of losses is improving; and the over-spend is caused by the wages of players that were contracted before June 2010 (when the fair-play rules were approved). However, that flexibility is only available for the reporting period ending in 2012.

    “There can be objective reasons for making a loss but there must be a strategy of coping with it, over a three year period, for example,” explained Infantino. “All of this will be analysed by the panel and, of course, as the ultimate decision, exclusion is possible.”
    ——

    Bobby, NO EDIT BUTTON (been like that for more than a month now).

  26. Alberta Gooner says:

    SL needs a mute button, not an edit button

    Wenger disputes the account put forward by Phil Gartside and his stenographer Sam Wallace. Bolton didn’t have to accept the bid and certainly didn’t have to make it public, which really makes you wonder what they are playing at. These bigger questions didn’t seem to run through the head of Mr. Wallace or his readers. That’s not surprising, given how some pundits and “supporters” have problems getting their facts straight.

  27. Soccerlogical says:

    AG – Clear difference between supporters’ healthy skeptical concern and a supporter’s blind faith a la followers of Sun Myung Moon and Jim Jones….avoid the punch mate!

  28. J Rob says:

    Bobby:

    Loved the Jock Wallace article. I won’t repeat them here but there are some great comments below the original article on the Guardian website. The most entertaining might be a discussion of the hardest to softest manager in the current EPL.

  29. John Bladen says:

    SL: I see you’ve discovered bold faced type.

    I think you’ve got the cart before the horse re: ffp… the FFP rules are meant to protect clubs from themselves, not as some sort of “academic” qualification to play in CL. Platini and UEFA understand what the clubs themselves do not: That there may not always be a white knight riding to their rescue. Thus far just a handful of clubs have actually failed (and most of those have remained in business with the aquiescence of their leagues, creditors and often tax authorities), but the debt levels (and often annual deficit levels) are rising to a level that cannot be supported.

    As I said on another thread, Man City is now spending about 115% of their total turnover on wages. If the owner walks away tomorrow, who takes over? And how do they stay in business? City & Chelsea might be the worst examples in the EPL, but there are others in nearly as bad shape. On the continent, it is often even worse in the elite leagues. Winding up orders could become commonplace, and no-one wants to see that.

    The world may not have an inexhaustible supply of stupid & press hungry billionaires.

    As for your view that Arsenal is being completely run by one man (Wenger), it just isn’t true. The board may be co-operative and supportive of AW’s ideals, but they set the budgets, not Wenger.

    I’m not sure I understand what makes you say Wenger controls everything? He is an employee, just like anyone else not on the board.

    When you are managing your own budget (or life), do you run it like Arsenal does, paying down debt and saving for rainy days, or do you spend more than you earn (like Man City?).

  30. John Bladen says:

    AG: Good point re: Wallace. Slow news day perhaps.

    But maybe all clubs should be like Man City… some highlights (dollar figures converted at present exchange):

    – signing Robinho in 2008 for $50m, 16 months later he was loaned back to Santos, then sold to Milan for $22m just before the 2nd anniversary of his MCFC move.
    – signing Santa Cruz for $25m in 2009, then 8 months later loaning him back to the club they bought him from (likely with a hefty wage contribution from the Citizens too).
    – signing Adebayor for $35m in 2009, out on loan since Jan 2011 and now available on a free to anyone who can stomach his new wage (no surprise everyone wants him on loan, not on a transfer).

    The three listed above played less than 100 games in total for the club. Sheer Management genius!

    Sorry City fans, I actually like your club, it’s just the ownership that leaves me with uncontrollable laughter…

    Even more frightening is that the above moves make Barry ($18m), Lescott ($30m) and Balotelli ($33m) look like reasoned decisions…

  31. Soccerlogical says:

    Bladen – There is your flaw in thought. Why would anyone ever compare EPL/World Soccer financial dealings with an average person’s real life financial dealings? I think it’s reality check time, as I said earlier “Too big to fail” (i.e. Fenway group saves Liverpool’s ass from dumb and dumber and The Sheikh saves MC from the corrupt Thai ruler…and the beat goes on!

    PS Just cause Wenger is an employee of Arsenal doesn’t mean that the board can’t follow him in ignorant blind faith. As long as Arsenal are in the black the board are happy to follow his stubborn vision which hasn’t brought a trophy in 6 years. But the fans actually want to see some profit spent to address key defensive frailties (and not penny pinch over the likes of Cahill or Samba with just a few days left in the transfer window) so they can actually compete with the other top 4 clubs who keep getting stronger.

  32. John Bladen says:

    Reality is a flaw?

    Only for those who live firmly in the irrational world.

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