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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

As Groucho Marx Said, The Best Loan Signing And Kings Otto And Kenny

Written by on March 5, 2012 | 17 Comments »
Posted in Winners and Losers

It was a great week for the European clubs. The agreement with UEFA on the clubs’ three main objectives can be considered a great victory and further confirmation that the bigger clubs in Europe have a unique voice and are not just an adjunct to their domestic associations.

With eleven games remaining Swansea are one, perhaps two wins away from realistically ensuring their place in the Premier League for another season. The 2-0 away win against bottom the league Wigan also included their 10th clean sheet of the season despite playing for the last half hour a man short after Nathan Dyer received a straight red card. Gylfi Sigurdsson’s two goals furthered his claim as the best loan signing of the January transfer window – if there is such an award!

 The 1-0 loss to Basle in the first round of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 means that a place in the last eight will be anything but routine for Bayern Munich. Back in mid-November after 12 games another Bundesliga title looked to be coming Bayern’s way. A lead of five points over a Borussia Dortmund side that had started slowly over the first six games had put Bayern in control. A dozen games on and things have changed dramatically. While Bayern have collected just 20 points from their fixtures Dortmund has been on a tremendous run with 32 points from a possible 36. Bayern are seven points behind champions Dortmund with ten games to go and should be more concerned over the likes of Borussia Mongengladbach  and Schalke 04.

  The first ever win by USA over Italy deserves mention. Yes, it was friendly but it does offer a psychological boost to the team and potentially intimidates future CONCACAF World Cup qualifying opponents. However, this was no triumph of flowing attacking soccer but a win built on good solid organization, hard work and a piece of opportunism from Clint Dempsey. The silence of those who wanted Bob Bradley gone and replaced by someone with a more expansive vision has been noted.

 Chelsea allowed West Brom 25 shots which was the most they have allowed any opponent since 2009. The only saving grace for Chelsea was that they were not on the blunt end of a sounder beating. West Brom showed little respect to a side that had 14 points more than them going into the match. Gareth McAuley scored the goal but the pairing of Peter Odemwingie and Marc-Antoine Fortuné caused Chelsea all sorts of problems.

New boss Otto Rehhagel offered hope to Hertha Berlin fans that relegation can be avoided with a 1-0 win over Werder Bremen. The win moved Hertha out of the bottom three and ended a run of 12 games without a win.

  The Football Association announced that the search for the  next England national team manager is going to be a much slower process than many expected. The statement set off a round of speculation about who may be on the FA shortlist apart from Mr. H. Redknapp and Redknapp, Harry. Linking the likes of Pep Guardiola and Jose Mourinho to the vacant position makes you think that it is time that people who write this stuff need to realize why they have brown rings around their necks.

 Milan put the disappointment of only drawing with title rivals Juventus last week behind them and destroyed a Palermo side that simply had no answer to their opponent’s passing, mobility and finishing. Zlatan Ibrahimovic gets the headlines with a hat trick but Robinho was outstanding. Milan is now three points ahead of Juve with a game more played. Juventus are still unbeaten but with 12 draws you wonder why it matters.

 Has a Cup win ever oxidized more quickly than Liverpool’s win last Sunday over Cardiff? They were awarded a penalty, missed a penalty, took the lead through an Arsenal own goal and that was just in the first half. Wojciech Szczesny kept the away side in the match and a Robin Van Persie equalizer just before half time was against the run of play. But worse was to come as Van Persie scored an injury time winner to shell-shock Liverpool fans and place any hope of a top four finish on the scale of extremely remote. The reaction to the loss reinforces the notion that cup silverware is something but it doesn’t match a place in the Champions League.

  A hammering in the Champions League by Milan and a FA Cup loss away to Sunderland has masked the fact that Arsenal are on a rather good run in the Premier League. A home win over Blackburn was followed by wins at Sunderland and Liverpool book-ended a win over Spurs. The last three wins all game after falling behind and two of the victories came from injury time goals. The win at Anfield also means that for the first time in their history Arsenal are undefeated on five consecutive visits. It means that Arsenal has slumped the mid-table in the crisis league.

Manchester City matched a couple of records this weekend as they maintained another clean sheet and beat Bolton 2-0 with a lot to spare. They equalled Manchester United’s mark of 19 consecutive league wins at home (both over consecutive seasons) and became the first team in over a century to win their first 14 top flight home matches in a season. Roberto Mancini did not use Sergio Aguero or David Silva in the game but they still dominated the match with Bolton keeper Adam Bogdan standing between his side and a worse fate.

  To paraphrase Groucho Marx, Harry Redknapp has had a perfectly wonderful week, but the last seven days wasn’t it. A week past Sunday Spurs looked to be on the cusp of going 13 points ahead of Arsenal – now the gap has narrowed to just four points. The loss to Manchester United must have stung just as much as the loss to Arsenal – perhaps more so given how well Spurs played in the first 45 minutes. Now Spurs have a FA replay against Stevenage set for Wednesday and then a tricky visit to Goodison. Chelsea are also on the cards before the end of March. The implications of results from now until the end of the season for Harry, England and Spurs are profound.

Another managerial casualty at Stamford Bridge and now Roberto Di Matteo’s name has been penned on the whiteboard outside of the manager’s office. Back when Andre Villas-Boas was hired we ran a poll on this website asking how long he would last before he was chopped. It turned out the wisdom of crowds thought 15 months – 25% of the crowd got it correct with an estimate of between 6 to 12 months. It really is impossible to come up with a logical reason why Abramovich would hire AVB in the first place when he wasn’t willing to give him the time to retool and rebuild.

It is also impossible to understand why people who get paid to comment and write on the game for a living are still comparing Mourinho and Villas-Boas. If you want to compare AVB to anyone try Arsene Wenger. The difference was Wenger inherited a slightly less aged squad and one that had not been so successful in the short-term.

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17 responses to “As Groucho Marx Said, The Best Loan Signing And Kings Otto And Kenny”

  1. Ed Gomes says:

    You’ve said it Bobby. Abram has wasted another campaign. AVB obviously took the job knowing full well that he had too turn over the squad. From the first day, he mentioned the project at hand.
    For pundits, like Barton at FSC, who kept mentioning how he hadn’t earned the backing of the players and how he hadn’t played the leaders, those comments are idiotic. Those same veterans and leaders are exactly the players that he had to turn over. Worst yet, those same players knew exactly why he was there and what he was going to do. They were never going to back him or his tactics, no matter what.
    Abram let the players win out once again. If you recall Mourinho was all set to turn over the squad right before he was let go due to Terry and other supposed leaders. Abram sided with the players and here they are now. I can only guess that Abram is trying to trick the players into playing hard and somehow squeeze a CL spot out. Then he can try to turn it over once again next season.

    Arsenal fans have to be elated once again. I just hope hat they haven’t forgotten that hey are far from a perfect squad. RvP could still be on his way out, and just inflating his value. The good news for Arsenal is that Abram, King Kenny and Harry are in charge of their respective clubs. A CL spot actually looks guaranteed now.
    I read something funny. Arteta wants to play for the Spain and would love to join Milan. Ok, just so we can be clear I would love to do the same and have about the same chances as he does and I’m not even Spanish.

  2. Gus Keri says:

    Bobby:

    “brown rings around their necks”?

    I didn’t get it

  3. Tully Steel says:

    Hey–Andre Villas-Boas might have gotten the time he needed at Chelsea if he hadn’t proved such a disaster as a man manager. Sure, there are older players that need transitioning and replacing but, at the moment, they are still very important to the club’s success. A top flight manager needs to get the best out of the team he’s got, and AVB plainly not only wasn’t inspiring them, he seemed to be confusing and depressing them. He had problems getting along with Ashley Cole, a twit yes, but a key player and not one of the old guard. He couldn’t reach an understanding with Frank Lampard, reputed to be one of the most reasonable players in the league. His decision to bench them both, and Michael Essien, in the last Champion’s league game looked like petty ego. His grand “plan” was never apparent. He just wasn’t ready for the job.

  4. rdm says:

    Seriously Gus? Their collective heads are stuck up their own collective backsides.

  5. Gus Keri says:

    RDM:

    One of the advantages — or maybe disadvantages — of the cyberspace is getting to know many new expressions that you are not familiar with.

    My understanding of the meaning of “brown rings around neck” is different and didn’t fit in what Bobby is trying to say.

    Thanks for the explanation.

  6. Roberto Senyera says:

    From the Painfully Obvious Department: Abramovich should never have sacked Anchelotti. A manager who still remains one of the game’s very best and whose raised eyebrow would have certainly impressed Groucho Marx.

  7. Soccerlogical says:

    I am currently writing a book entitled Toy Story, it’s about a Putin positioned oligarch puppet and his “Toy”.

  8. Erik says:

    More likely to be back in the Premier League: AVB or Portsmouth? Scary to think it might be a wash – NEITHER!

    Liverpool was flat this weekend but let’s not leave out their Carling competitors. I sensed Cardiff would come out flat and Hammered the Hammers in their game Sunday and got an easy win – will the hangover for Cardiff be just this one game, or more? Could Cardiff actually regret playing for the Carling Cup knowing all it took out of them and then hurting their chances to return to the Top Flight?! Maybe

    OK – we are now pretty much looking at “5 for 3” in the EPL Relegation Battle. History tells us the 3 teams in the bottom NOW – won’t be the 3 when the season ends. Wigan is pretty much a given to go down. But who after that? I’ll say Bolton and QPR although I sooooooooo wanna see The Chicken Farmers be sent down

  9. fabr04 says:

    Bobby – Here’s a quick stat for the next time anyone asks why England never win international tournaments despite the PL’s quality: (source = Soccernet)

    Of the 9 top goal scorers in the EPL, one is English.

    Of the 7 top assist makers in the EPL, zero are English.

    Of the 8 players with the worst disciplinary troubles in the EPL, ALL EIGHT are English!

    IMHO, England should start Cattermole, Shawcross, and Barton at Euro 2012. That way, when they lose, at least they can blame the referees for making them play with 8 men.

  10. Roberto Senyera says:

    My three picks for the drop: Bolton, Wigan, Wolves.

    This year they should relegate five clubs as both Blackburn and QPR are pretty horrible also. These two should at least have a promotion/relegation playoff with the fourth & fifth place teams from the second tier. They are that bad.

    When was the last time the bottom five were so putrid and two of the just promoted teams (Norwich & Swansea) were safe from the drop with so many more games left on the fixture list?

  11. Ed Gomes says:

    I would love to see Hughes/QPR, Blackburn and anybody but Wigan. Actually Villa deserve to go down solely on their horrible managerial decision.

    Rumor of Abram offering Pep 60 mil for three years. It needs to be that much once you factor in taxes.
    I guess the Olympic village isn’t costing him as much as I perceived. What about funds for the World Cup. The motherland will keep calling. Lol.

  12. Joao says:

    Hughes is a joke! Fulham have no ambition, yet they are 8th and he is fighting relegation again. Hmmm…. Yet, unfortunately QPR, the Venky’s , won’t go down. Bolton have shown little to no fight. Wolves have a defense that has so many holes, swiss cheese would be envious. Poor Wigan they can’t score, poor defense, soft midfield, but they play good football. I guess that’s something…
    Relegated: Bolton, Wolves, and Wigan
    On Liverpool’s defeat they miss more sitters than any other team in Europe, I think they may actually be allergic to scoring. Quick stat Cristiano Ronaldo has scored just as many goals in La Liga as the entire Liverpool team in the league. Their offense is anemic. Arsenal’s Robin Van Persie may single-handedly win a CL spot for the gunners, Chelsea’s team is a mess and should have not fired AVB, Newcastle have no depth, and I just explained Liverpool’s situation.
    Bobby,
    I have just one question: How many records do you believe Real Madrid shatters en route to the league title? I say two: points total and goals scored
    Hala Madrid!

  13. Roberto Senyera says:

    Joao,

    The Lily White Bastards (LWBs) will break one record this season: Losing the most El Clasicos in one season. Put your money down on that one.

    Visca Barça!

  14. JRob says:

    Being contrary I think AVB’s sacking gives Chelsea a better chance of making Champion’s League. Hard to know if he was the right manager or not but he had clearly lost the dressing room. Chelsea have hard fixtures but a good enough squad on paper to get the 4th place.

    I’d make a small wager they will beat Arsenal to the 4th spot.

    Hard to see how Chelsea succeed with their maniacal owner. The manager’s spot at Stamford Bridge is even less secure then the one at Real Madrid now. At the same time they need to rebuild for the future especially with the spectre of Financial Fair Play. Instability and team-building aren’t compatible.

  15. JRob says:

    Also I think I read at the weekend that a report showed that both redeveloping Stamford Bridge and building a new stadium for Chelsea were probably both too expensive to be possible.

    Dark clouds in West London keep getting darker.

  16. Ed Gomes says:

    Real is an impossible job that all managers will want to have. Chelsea is an impossible job, with current so-called leaders, that nobody wants.

    I know tha ultimately AVB lost the locker room, but people keep forgetting that half of it was going to be lost anyway. These “great” (laughable) leaders were all going to be shipped out so they turned the who,e p,ace against him. Ramirez and Luis came to his defense since they will be remaining.
    We’ve seen it all before and Abram fell for it again.

    Bobby you mentioned on fsr how Rafa is being dismissed to easily. Yes you are right, he did with quite a bit with Valencia and Liverpool somewhat, but he lef with such a sour taste. He basically blamed the “owners” for everything when he was given total control and spent a ton. Yet he screamed about finances.
    He also looked like a fool at Inter. He came in and stated how he was going to do better than Mourinho, after they had won everything. He just handled everything wrong.
    To me he’s one of those guys that started believing his own hype and thought he could do no wrong. He’s done plenty wrong since glory days, in my eyes.

    Is Boltons defense actually better without Cahill?

  17. Soccerlogical says:

    @JOAO – You forgot to add record #3:

    Greatest number of losses to Barcelona in any given season when including all league and cup matches!!!

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