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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

Taking A Great Leap Forward – Dortmund, Ajax, Liverpool, Chelsea, Hibs, Hearts, Reading; Others In Reverse

Written by on April 15, 2012 | 6 Comments »
Posted in Winners and Losers

It has been a fantastic week for Borussia Dortmund. A midweek win against Bayern Munich was followed by a 2-1 win in the Ruhr derby against Schalke o4. That means that Dortmund has now gone undefeated in 25 Bundesliga matches and with three matches remaining they are eight points up on Bayern Munich and are short-odd favorites to retain their German title. 

Not for the first time Everton lacked the self believe needed when facing Merseyside rivals Liverpool. Leading 1-0 at half time after calamitous defending from Liverpool had presented Nikica Jelavic with a gilt-edged chance Everton self-destructed in the second half. A mishit pass-back from centre back Distin allowed Suarez to equalize. Then came an ill-advised challenge from Coleman on Gerrard who was going no place. Bellamy’s free kick was met by the back of Andy Carroll’s head and Liverpool was through to the FA Cup Final.

Two decisive goals in the space of three days and two games offered a much-needed respite for Liverpool’s Andy Carroll. Now all he has to do is to repeat on a regular basis. 

Carlos Tevez shot a sub-par round to lead……oops sorry. Carlos Tevez scored a hat trick for Manchester City in a 6-1 rout of Norwich. He also scored in the 4-0 midweek win over West Brom. He also chipped in with an assist on one of Sergio Aguero’s two goals. It was the first time that City had scored more than a single goal in a Premier League away match since November. 

Toronto FC have set a new high with their fifth straight loss to start a season. Their previously poorest start was their inaugural season in 2007.  During the latter part of last season I opined that any TFC improvement had largely been a mirage. The improvement was not systemic but had been based almost entirely on spending a large amount of money on two designated players. I stick by that position.

 Save to say that any Hibs supporter who saw the side last hoist the Scottish Cup in 1902 have long departed this earth. Whether they can take the final step in May has yet to be decided but a late Leigh Griffiths goal gave Hibs a 2-1 win over Aberdeen. Should Hibs win the Scottish Cup, Dundee will be in for far more attention given that they last won the Cup two years before the Titanic sailed.

Reading took another giant stride back towards the Premier League on Friday when they traveled to St. Mary’s and beat the home side and automatic promotion rivals Southampton 3-1. Reading are top of the Championship with a three-point lead on Southampton with three games to play. The top two gain automatic promotion while 3 through 6 must play-off to decide the final spot. West Ham is six points behind Reading with Reading’s magic promotion number now sitting at three – that is points dropped by West Ham or points gained by Reading

AZ Alkmaar saw their title hopes take another blow when they lost 3-2 to PSV Eindhoven. It looked like the match was heading towards a 2-2  result but a late goal gave PSV all the points. After a win on Sunday Ajax now enjoys a six point lead at the top. Then comes traffic jam with AZ and Feyenoord tied and PSV, Twente and Heerenveen both just a point behind.

 It seems impossible to write a winners and losers column without mentioning Cristiano Ronaldo and Lionel Messi. Both were on target again on Saturday. Ronaldo set a new scoring record with his 41st league goal of the season while within two hours Messi too matched the feat.

 Ashley Young will be part of the headlines again and once more it will be for the wrong reasons. You can’t defend the indefensible and Young’s actions in making sure he made contact with Villa defender was indefensible.

 David Silva returned to Manchester City’s line up against Norwich and he looked to have rediscovered some of his sharpness and incisive passing.

Celtic fans will not be happy after a last second penalty converted for Hearts by former Celtic striker Craig Beattie made it a non-Old Firm Scottish Cup Final. What’s more it will be only the second time that Hibs and Hearts have met in a Scottish Cup Final. The other occasion was in 1895-96 when Hearts won 3-1 and is the only time the final has been contested outside of Glasgow.

Chelsea were the winners and Spurs the losers but it has been a long-time since a game left me with so many questions. How could a talented Spurs side play so well for so long in the match but create so few real opportunities?

How did Martin Atkinson (Insert Rowan jokes here…) not call a foul on John Terry as he clearly made no contact with a header and then piled into at least two Spurs defenders?

The referee again seconds later – given the angle how could he possibly be sure the ball crossed the line? (Both incidents together could have made up a Russell Berrisford example from last week’s video technology blog).

Would video technology have even offered evidence either way given the position of the players and the momentary mayhem that went on?

The way that Spurs heads went down after the third goal must be a concern for their fans – will there be an echo effect over the remainder of the season or can Spurs regroup?

Chelsea scored five with Drogba’s opener and Lampard’s free kicks both in the spectacular category but watching the game it was a pretty flat effort by Chelsea I thought. A win that was down to two pieces of individual brilliance, deep defending, a controversial moment(s), and a Spurs centre back pairing that looked as if might have trouble defending a front door from an aggressive door-to-door salesperson.

Have Chelsea used up their allotment of good fortune or is there some left for Barcelona and a fourth place finish in the Premier League?

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6 responses to “Taking A Great Leap Forward – Dortmund, Ajax, Liverpool, Chelsea, Hibs, Hearts, Reading; Others In Reverse”

  1. Boris says:

    Bobby,

    I was so disappointed with Tottenham’s overall performance. Aside from the terrible refereeing, the Spurs just completely gave up after the third goal. The worst for me was when Gallas waived his hand for an offside and then just stood there as the opposing player continued his run unopposed. There is no excuse for such sort of behavior and I am worried that this lack of confidence will cost the Spurs Champions League next year.
    Drogba was great yet again. What a goal. I would pick this guy over Torres any day.

  2. Boris says:

    I have been talking about Jelavic for a long time. I had hoped a few years ago that he would have joined Spurs (Adebayor being also a top choice for me). It is a shame that Everton have lost but once again Jelavic showed good composure. The Croatian attack will look dangerous at the Euros with Modric playing behind Mandzukic and Jelavic. David Moyes sure knows how to pick them.

  3. jtm371 says:

    Very sad that the few Chelsea fans could not keep quiet for one minute for the Hillsborough and the Serie B player minute of silence.

    A Young what a joke the last two weeks put you right up there with Suarez not a place you want to be.

    I know he scored a brace but Shrek was awful no touch and no finishing. City is playing better than MUFC should be interesting.

  4. TR says:

    Dortmund’s fitness is something to admire.

  5. offthepost says:

    Alot has been made about the ref and different decisions that he made. The one decision I would like to hear from you about is the Spurs goal. When Martin Atkinson decides to play advantage and Bale scores, why doesn’t he go back and book Cech. I don’t think it would be out of place since. I’ve seen it done for fouls with advantage played and the Ref comes back to book the offending player. Could he or should the Ref have done so?

  6. Carlos Gallon says:

    @OFFTHE POST

    I have also seen keepers carded in situations like spurs’ goal, but I’ve never agreed with it.The ref played advantage so you can’t have it both ways. Although Harry Redknapp said he would have preferred to have Cech sent off and a penalty it didn’t make sense. That would be ideal for Spurs, but the ref made the right decision.

    Chelsea didn’t play a particularly good game. What a surprise! How many goals have Chelsea scored from open play this season? Not many. The only game that I truly enjoyed Chelsea play this season was the second leg Champions League game against Napoli, and that game wasn’t won with skill, it was won with heart. They went for broke; the old guard went out to prove they still had something left.

    Drogba also hadn’t hit a screamer like that in years and I honestly didn’t think he had that kind of potency in his shots anymore. But he also had two similar chances before that goal and they are going to have to make something out the few chances they will get against Barcelona

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