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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.


Rear View Mirror – England, Germany, Spain and Italy

Written by on February 27, 2011 | 40 Comments »
Posted in General

Any thoughts that we might see Wigan take advantage of a Champions League hangover/weakened line-up Manchester United combo were put to bed on Saturday at DW Stadium.

Arguably the starting line-up put out by Sir Alex Ferguson was stronger than the eleven that started against Marseille. However, the 4-0 scoreline did prove to be extremely flattering to Manchester United.

Edwin van der Sar was called upon three times – twice in the first half – to keep Wigan off the score sheet. Victor Moses could have showed a bit more conviction when he pounced on a Paul Scholes error but the United keeper narrowed the angle quickly; van der Sar again reacted quickly when James McCarthy was put through with only the keeper to beat; the second half save came after a long range blast from left back Maynor Figueroa.

Javier Hernandez continues to show the sharpness in front of goal and movement in the penalty box that reminds so many United fans of Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. Another two goals for him and then two other late markers as Wigan ran out of steam.

I mentioned on Friday’s Fox Soccer Report that Wolves fans never had a chance to relax and enjoy a win – close to every game their team played was a life or death finish.

Well that changed on Saturday as Wolves fans got to relax and enjoy a 4-0 walloping of Blackpool. Things got off to a great start with a wonderful move that was finished brilliantly by Matt Jarvis – his first since October 16th.

The sending off of Blackpool’s DJ Campbell made the task at hand even easier and the final score line made it Wolves’ biggest win in their Premier League history.

The Bayern Munich – Borussia Dortmund game was exceptional. The pace was non-stop and with Dortmund in particular teams pressing high up the pitch the play raced from end to end. A 3-1 win for Dortmund has surely put paid to the faint hope that Bayern might retain their title.

Midfielder Nuri Sahin was the man-of-the-match with a cracking goal to his credit as well. The third goal – a header from Mats Hummels – was not bad either. The centre back’s header from a corner flew into the Bayern net.

Mallorca escaped with a point from the Nou Camp earlier in the season but there was no repeat in the return fixture. Three goals without reply and all special in their own way.

Keita played the provider with a little scoop over the defence for Messi to run onto and his header went up and over the advancing keeper.

The second goal came after a protracted period of possession for Barcelona that was so long that commercial breaks could have inserted and Mallorca would still not have had a touch. Villa was the scorer this time as he broke the high Mallorca back line.

The final goal was an absolute belter from Pedro as he cut in from the left and deposited a right footed shot high into the far corner.

Bojan was also sighted at the 69th minute mark.

A couple of lackadaisical performances will have some thinking that Liverpool are regressing to the pre-Dalglish days. Liverpool again went with three at the back against West Ham but the defence never dominated the West Ham forwards at any stage.

First half goals by Scott Parker – a deft flick from the edge of the penalty box – and a header from Demba Ba put the Hammers in a strong position.

A late goal from Glen Johnson offered Liverpool an undeserved chance of grabbing a point but a Carlton Cole goal put the result beyond doubt.

Given that West Ham have had lots of trouble all season dealing with cross balls into the penalty box it was shocking that Liverpool played with little or no width.

It is even more surprising when you consider that a former West Ham coach Steve Clarke was sitting on the Liverpool bench.

Has there even been an easier cup-winning goal scored at Wembley than the one netted by Obafemi Martins on Sunday? A calamitous mistake from Arsenal goalkeeper Wojciech Szczesny (the question has to be asked – why did Koscielny not just shepherd the ball through to the keeper?)  presented Martins with an open goal and all the Nigerian striker had to do was roll the ball into the net from seven yards.

Although outplayed for large stretches of the match, attacks from Birmingham always carried menace and Arsenal’s advantage in possession again camouflaged an inability to play telling forward passes in and around the Birmingham penalty area.

Possession cannot be an end in itself and without Fabregas to pick out and to play a killer pass Arsenal were extremely predictable. Arsenal fans who circled February 27, 2011 as a sort of liberation day will have to wait a while longer.

Ben Foster pulled off a number of keys saves and in all the talk of the winning goal it seems to have been largely missed that Foster launched the free kick and deserves an assist perhaps.

Congratulations to Birmingham City and Big Eck. Europa League football at St Andrews next season.

I didn’t see the game but it is hard to ignore a 7-0 away win. Here are the goals from Udinese’s thumping of Palermo. Four by Alexis Sanchez (insert name of Premier League supposedly now ready to bid zillions for Sanchez) and a hat trick by the sensational Antonio de Natale.

The Sampdoria v Inter match was full of running and honest effort but as a spectacle it flattered to deceive. In the end the game was decided by a great free kick from Wesley Sneijder while the second from Samuel Eto’o only served to pad Inter’s goal differential.  The win maintains the pressure on Milan and Napoli who play each other tomorrow.

Stats Facts

It had been close to two decades since Borussia Dortmund won away to Bayern Munich but a 3-1 score line broke the streak and put paid to any thought that Bayern might still take the Bundesliga with a late charge. It was an 11th away win this season for Dortmund and that equals a Bundesliga record.

A fixture that looked as if might be a bit tricky turned into another routine win for Barcelona. Their 3-0 defeat of Mallorca means they are now unbeaten in 19 away matches in La Liga and are set to set a new league record when they travel to play Valencia at the Mestalla next weekend.

On Saturday against Sunderland Everton’s David Moyes only needed one point to hit the mark of 500 Premier League points. He cleared the mark with room to spare after a 2-0 win. He joins the fairly exclusive club of Redknapp, Wenger and Ferguson.

Bologna’s last win away to Juventus in Serie A came in 1980.

There has been a fair amount written about Italy losing a Champions League spot to Germany in the 2012/13 season. But the results in European play brought good news for Scottish teams – ok good news for Celtic and Rangers.

Rangers last gasp equaliser from Maurice Edu against Sporting Lisbon not only moved Rangers into the last 16 of the Europa League but reclaimed a second Champions League spot for Scottish clubs in 2012/13 season. Scotland will lose a place next season but now it will only be for one year.

One of the countries set to be the biggest loser in the next couple of seasons will be Romania. They will slip from 8th this season to no higher than 14th for 2012/13 and then the slide is almost certain to continue as they lose the unusually high number of points gained in 2006/07 season through success UEFA Cup.

Wigan have played Manchester United a dozen times in Premier League play and have lost every one. United have scored 37 goals against Wigan while conceding only four and the 18 goals have come without reply.

Alexis Sanchez became only the 12th player in the last three decades to score four goals in a Serie A game.

Player of the Weekend Nominees

Javier Hernandez (Manchester United)

Jamie O’Hara (Wolves)

Nuri Sahin (Borussia Dortmund)

Scott Parker (West Ham)

Ben Foster (Birmingham)

Samuel Eto’o (Inter)

The winner will be announced on Monday night’s Fox Soccer Report.

You can get updates through RSS (top of the page), follow at Twitter BobbySoccerRep, or on Facebook

40 responses to “Rear View Mirror – England, Germany, Spain and Italy”

  1. Shawn says:

    Sorry to see such a talented young batch of lads lose such a game in such a way but that loss should underline Arsenal’s weaknesses at Gk & Both CB positions there is clearly no leaders within the team and if they are to eventually pick up some silverware they will need to dip into the transfer market and get some experienced and quality players.It’s things like this is why Fabregas will leave in the summer and who knows some others may follow.

  2. Gillian says:

    Bobby, I’ve heard some talk lately that Serie A is a poor league. Since I don’t watch many Serie A games – and I’m a new soccer fan – I can’t really say. Would you agree with the idea that Serie A is poor when compared to other European leagues?

  3. The performances of Italian clubs in Europe tell a pretty compelling truth that the standard has declined significantly over some of the other top leagues.

    However, in terms of a competitive league I still enjoy watching Serie A games and many of the coaches are far more adventurous in terms of tactics than you find in other leagues.

    Genoa a couple of years ago were great to watch as were Fiorentina under Prandelli. Sampdoria over the second half of last season were very entertaining as were Roma.

    Udinese have been brilliant this season and I doubt there has been a more exciting duo than di Natale and Sanchez any place in Europe this season.

    Napoli with three at the back (as Genoa did two seasons ago) and two wing backs have been interesting to watch with Hamsik, Lavezzi and Cavani in attack.

  4. Bryan says:

    Just when you thought Chesney was a keeper.
    Was going to say how lucky Arsenal were that the linesman flagged for a wrong offside in the second minute which stopped a pk and a red for Chesney,where was the lady linesman when she was needed?,but that would be churlish.
    Koscielny could have seen red too.
    Did feel for Jack Wilshere at the final whistle though.That got to me.
    And I did feel a little rotten for Lydon.Was great to see him and the Pistols on SSN.Not something you see everyday.

    Was happy for the brummies ,it’s not everyday they get to celebrate. Somewhere Ozzy is getting p****d ,not that anyone could tell the difference.
    Thought Zigic had a good touch for a big man.And he literally used his head.Literally.
    Does Ben Foster save his best for League Cup finals?
    Overall it was one of the better finals in recent years.Not as good as the ’69 final though ,thanks in part to the good pitch ,with Bobby Gould crying after scoring in front of his blind father and Don Rogers scoring the winner for Swindon on the beach despite almost falling over his tache.

  5. Bryan says:

    Poor Ashley.He just can’t help himself.
    What the #@&% was he thinking!

    I wouldn’t complain if he was fired.
    It would be nice to make a statement and take the moral high ground.
    But as the Mutu case showed ,it doesn’t pay to have morals.

    It’s good to know there are some things you can always rely on. Like Wigan rolling over for Man Utd.Wonder if Rooney will be brought up by the FA,they did set a precedent a couple years back with the Ben Thatcher/Pedro Mendes case.

    Bobby – Did you have a word with Mick before the Wolves game?

  6. Bryan
    I have found the 69 League Cup Final on you tube and I will try to get it up tomorrow. Ian Ure and Bob Wilson had their Koscielny and Szczesny moment or vice versa. Swindon were 3rd division were they not?

  7. Wolves became the Perry Como of the Premier League on Saturday.

  8. Bryan – Am I correct in thinking that both of Bobby Gould’s parents were blind?


    if you were a betting man will Rooney get 3 games or will the FA swallow the whistle.

  10. Bryan says:

    Bobby – That must be a Big Match/Brian Moore/Jimmy Hill video.I look forward to it.
    I remember League Cup finals were played at 3 o’clock on Saturdays at the time and you didn’t get to see them until Sunday afternoon.That one has just always stuck with me.Think QPR won it as a third div team just before or after too.

    Don’t know about Bobby Gould’s mum ,just remember the commentator explaining why he was so emotional.

    Still working on the Perry Como reference. You might have me there!

    Forest – I think it will get swept under the carpet.

  11. Bryan says:

    Enjoyed the Chelsea old boys reunion at the Boleyn.
    Haven’t seen Avram Grant that animated on the touchline before. Wonder if he’s been taking lessons.
    I like this Demba Ba ,his flying header brought back memories of a certain Charlie Cooke to Peter Osgood goal at Old Trafford in the 1970 Cup final.
    Perhaps Liverpool supporters now know why there was no big uproar from Chelsea when Joey Cole was allowed to leave?
    Redfan – Glad to see you’re still around.
    Don’t you wish you could play Chelsea every week?

    The rugby ,the cricket(almost) ,and the Oscars.Not bad!

    And Daniel Sturridge is still batting a thousand. Four for four.

    R.I.P. Deano.
    Way too young to go.

  12. ttred says:

    Great performance by Foster. Player of the week hands down. Why couldn’t he consistently do that in Manchester?

  13. jpt says:

    Bobby, I thought Arsenal got enough passes in to the box to win. Van Persie’s goal and Rosicky’s near miss both came from about 8 yards out, from where the team likes to shoot. Rosicky could have made more of Bendtner’s cross if he didn’t try that RIDICULOUS back-heel. (?!?!?) I distinctly remember Van Persie having the ball about 3 yards from goal, and then dribbling out of the box because he couldn’t get control . . . If anything, I thought Arsenal made unusually direct passes (for them) in the second half. Most of them just didn’t turn into shots.

    This was a different side from the one that played Lleyton Orient, but I think the point you made about the team still obtains: they don’t seem to have a lot of urgency about their play. They let pass the dozen half-chances that their excellent passing creates every game, get passive with the ball as the game progresses, and start waiting for the defenders to fall down so they can waltz with the ball over the goalline.
    Where I differ from you is that I see this as a problem with the finishers more than the playmakers.

    Wenger seems to favor forwards who run on to the ball, but in situations where space is tight or their back is to the goal, all of the current strikers flounder. Also, they sit back on their heels when the ball is loose — nobody has a poacher’s instinct. Consequently, they turn decent balls into the box into tame little runs away from goal. What Arsenal needs more than anything is someone who’s not dependent on a perfect pass to score, who can score goals that look ugly. I thought we might have had that with Chamakh . . . not anymore, sadly.

    Incidentally, after that karate kick in the direction of Szczesny’s head, I have to ask: how long do you think it’ll be before Koscielny kills somebody? He hurt Eboue and Song, he went face-first into Squillaci . . . I like the guy, but he’s a menace out there.

  14. Rahul says:

    Hugely dissapointed with the Carling Cup result…

    …I thought the United – Wigan game was highly entertaining until Hernandez got the second goal. Van der Saar made some great saves the first half…

  15. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    Nice recap Bobby.

    One set of questions for you. Some of my mates are arguing about this. So here goes. Early on in the League Cup Final (@ 2′) when Bowyer was called offside. Let’s suppose the linesman kept his flag down:
    1) Was it offside?
    2) Was it a penalty?
    3) Was it a red card for Szczesny?

  16. Soccerlogical says:

    Both Rooney and Barry Ferguson deserve 3 match bans for their actions.

    Rooney for his impersonation of an “Enforcer” in hockey and Ferguson for hitting Koscielny on the head as he celebrated Obafemi Martins’ winner.

    In the dictionary under the word “AS#HOLE” it reads:
    Please see W Rooney and B Ferguson.

  17. TVN
    1. Bowyer was clearly onside – Clichy was between Bowyer and Szczesny when the ball was played through.

    2. Yes – I believe it was a penalty without a shadow of a doubt.

    3. Red card is certainly something that could be debatable based on where Bowyer’s touch took the ball. He knocked it quite wide of the keeper so a case could be made that a defender may have got back to cover. The instructions to officials includes the following as guidance.

    Referees should consider the following circumstances when deciding whether
    to send off a player for denying a goal or an obvious goalscoring opportunity:
    • the distance between the offence and the goal
    • the likelihood of keeping or gaining control of the ball
    • the direction of the play
    • the location and number of defenders

  18. Gus Keri says:


    Watching Liverpool yesterday, I couldn’t help but to think of your theory about the 8 games bump. Maybe Dalglish is a human after all.

    Liverpool didn’t play with three defenders. They started with 4-4-2 and used Johnson as right midfielder and Kelly as right back.

    Cole came in for Kelly and Johnson moved back to right back agian. I thought Johnson did better than Cole in the midfield.

    By losing, Arsenal inflicted some damages to Liveprool’s chances of playing in Europe next year.

    They need Man City to reach the final of the FA cup to play either Man Utd or Arsenal. Any other scenario, the sixth place finisher in the league won’t be going to Europe.

    The other option is to win the Europa league.

    So, thank you Gunners.

  19. Bryan – Perry Como used to be referred to as “Mr. Relaxation”

  20. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:


    Agreed on the first two points. But at the point of contact, Szczesny was the last man in what was, for me, an obvious goal scoring opportunity. Wouldn’t most officials have sent off the GK?

  21. Gus – The way I saw it was Carragher, Skrtel and Wilson across the back with a bank of three from right to left of Kelly, Lucas and Johnson in front of the back three. Gerrard and Meireles made it a bank of 5 when defending and Kuyt was often behind Suarez but on occasion beyond him.

    I did not see Johnson on the right side until Kelly went off and then he switched sides and Cole played on the left side of midfield.

  22. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:


    No intentional harm upon LFC, I’m sure, was meant with AFC’s shortcomings yesterday. Sorry to hear about that possibility as it never occurred to me.

    Sorry too about the West Ham match. I thought they’d at least get a result. Footy sure is an odd game at times.

  23. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    Does anyone know who is airing the Milan v Napoli match live (or tape delayed) today in Canada? I can’t seem to find it anywhere. Thanks.

  24. Gus Keri says:

    Sorry Bobby, it’s me mistake

    I meant to say that Johnson was playing (left) midfielder but Kelly was the right back until he went out and Johnson switched to right back agian.
    Wilson was the left back.
    This is how I saw it.

  25. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:


    Regarding the gained UCL spot picked up by Scotland for 2012/13, why is everything deferred a year? Is it because of the five year UEFA coefficient averages? If the Rangers result last week changed things, I would prefer that it be reflected the following year. Just as a team winning their domestic league qualifies for the UCL the following season.

  26. Soccerlogical says:

    Straight RED to MCMAHON for a “Fogey Music Reference”!

  27. TVN – It’s not because of the 5 year average because that can click in anytime you wish. I cannot say for sure but I am guessing it is the need to have solid information because of the size of the two European tournaments. The leagues finish at various times, some running into June while the coefficients are not complete until the finals of the Champions League and the Europa League have been played. When you combine these realities with preliminary games starting in July it just makes for too many unknowns to be figured out in to little time.
    Hence the delay.

  28. SL – even before my time.

  29. Gus Keri says:

    Also, some of the leagues had concluded last fall and their representatives had already been decided for the begining of 2011-2012 season. Such the case in Russia for example.
    And the quotas for each country are usually decided before the competition starts. It’s not reasonable to change the rules while the tournament is going on.

  30. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    So, a lot of it has to do with the timing of the Russian and Scandanavian leagues and the brevity of the offseason? That makes sense. Russia is changing the timing of their league soon but the others won’t. I guess there always will be that one year deferral. Just as Italy’s UCL reduction & the Bundesliga’s UCL increase to UCL teams doesn’t kick in until the 2012/13 season.

    Bobby – any idea of who in Canada is broadcasting that Serie A match today? It is one of the few Serie A matches that I get excited about.

  31. TVN – I don’t think it has nothing to do with Russian and Scandinavian leagues. These leagues have up to now had their sides decided way before any one else. I think I am correct in stating La Liga is usually to last to conclude.

    The Score has opted to show the NHL Trading Deadline today.

  32. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    That Sneijder free kick on the weekend was exceptional. The curve he got on it was just first class. I can’t say that he is my cup of tea though. Great talent but he’s too much of ball hog with blinders on when he’s anywhere close to the goal. A shoot first, pass second mentality is fine for a striker but not for an attacking MF. A bit too egotistical too (relative to his contemporary peers). But he and Ronaldo are two of the best free kick takers around (off the top of my head).

    Europa League next year at Birmingham and it won’t come from Aston Villa. Wow. What a sight that will be. Still trying to get my head around that ‘vision’.

    That blunder by the Gunner pair was a howler. But I would find more fault with the CB Koscielny. Assuming the GK Szczesny made a call, the CB has to leave it for the keeper. And even if the GK does not make a call, the CB has to be aware of the pace of the ball and the positioning of the attacker in that situation. Best to have left that ball for the GK. It’s another example of Koscielny’s over eagerness when a cool head would be better served. I think he’ll grow out of it. I think he’s a keeper too. The term, “We have a failure to communicate”, rings loudly on that play no doubt.

    Another Bojan sighting! And this time it lasted longer than the famous @ 1969 Patterson Bigfoot footage in northern California. The Bojan may truly exist.

    One correction though Bobby. If you wait until next weekend for the Valancia v Barça match I’m afraid you’re going to miss it. The match is Wednesday on GolTV @ 16:00 EST. That will be firecracker!

    What’s all this Maradona talk about Marcelo being the best player in La Liga?? Has Don Diego dipped into the nose candy yet again? It’s blasphemy for an Argentinian to say that about a Brasilian. Let alone saying it about said Brasilian.

    My pick for PotW is Sahin. MotM in a very big match this weekend. Second choice is Foster. Looking at your list, I don’t foresee a need for the seatbelt this week. Praise the Lord!

    Keep up the good work. Both you and Eoin.

  33. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    SL – Thanks for the link but I don’t have the use of my computer currently. And besides, don’t games through the Internet buffer and get really choppy a lot. It’s not the same as on the tele.

    Bobby – The Score’s pretty ridiculous. They carry Serie A in Canada but half their games are taped delayed. And every sports station is carrying that damn trade deadline. This country is hockey mad.

  34. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    One would think that with modern computing power these days the UEFA changes (both the Scottish UCL increase and the Italy/Germany UCL switch) could occur for the very next season. La Liga may be the latest to finish but, if my memory serves, they’ve been finishing in late May for the last few seasons. And even if they did not finish until early June you would think the computers could have it all sorted very quickly and well before the beginning of the competition in July.

    I just find the one year delay rather odd.

  35. Gus Keri says:

    If you want to know how bad the Milan vs Napoli game is, consider this: The only good chance to score fell to Van Bommel.

  36. TVN – Nothing to do with computers. In simple terms it allows clubs to know what they are playing for. If there was not a delay then a team could think they had qualified for Europe only to have the place taken away because of the outcome of a Champions League and/or Europa League final.

  37. Gus Keri says:

    The second half was a different story.
    Milan showed why they are on top of the league.

  38. Theo van Nasarshavregas says:

    From that perspective it makes sense. Celtic or Rangers know if there are one or two UCL spots available in any given year well before hand. Same for the third v fourth Serie A team. I’ll buy that. A Guinness please for the fine gentleman.

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