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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

Thierry Henry Super-Nova, Galaxy Shrinking, Hamburg Not Cooked Yet

Written by on April 1, 2012 | 9 Comments »
Posted in Winners and Losers

 Back-to-back home wins for Queen’s Park Rangers against Liverpool and Arsenal has given their fans fresh hope that Premier League survival might possible. Against Arsenal QPR’s performance blended defensive discipline with excellent support play and they took their chances when they came along.

The spine of the QPR side was particularly good. Paddy Kenny stymied Robin Van Persie with a game-changing save, the centre back pairing of Ferdinand and Hill provided a solid base while Barton spread the play intelligently in midfield. Sean Derry and Samba Diakite were relentless and focused in front of the back four while Bobby Zamora offered an outlet when his team was under pressure and he was able to hold the ball up until support arrived from deeper positions.

Arsenal and Manchester City both dropped valuable points against team they were expected to beat handily. Neither side established an effective rhythm were flummoxed by QPR and Sunderland sides that prioritized shape and organization. The success of the respective strategies can be measured by how few times the favored sides were able to work the oppositions’ keeper from chances inside of the penalty areas.

 After winning 13 consecutive matches it seems a bit churlish to group Braga as a loser. But a late goal brought Benfica a crucial win against Braga and when combined with Porto’s win against Olhanense it dropped Braga from top of the table to third.  But with five games remaining nothing is certain. Porto is on top with 60 points, Benfica has a point less and Braga are on 58. 

 Things continue to go from bad to worse for Wolves. Another game another loss and this time a loss to a relegation threatened rival and at Molineux. What compounded the loss was that QPR and Wigan both won and now with seven games to play Wolves are seven points adrift of safety.

Eight games still to go in the season and Real Madrid have already cracked a century of goals in La Liga. There were two more from Cristiano Ronaldo as Real Madrid beat Osasuna 5-1 and with Barcelona beating Athletic Bilbao 2-0 Real maintained their six point lead on the current champions.

March started well for West Ham with a 2-0 away win at Cardiff but since then things have taken a severe turn for the worse. Five draws, one win and a 4-2 home loss to Reading in a critical match on Saturday has seen the Hammers slide down to third in the Championship. The win extended Reading’s lead on West Ham to four points with six games remaining.

  Sunderland fans were rightfully depressed after losing to Everton in their FA Cup replay on Wednesday. The draw over Manchester City can’t make up for the midweek loss. But nonetheless Sessegnon, Larsson and Bendtner contributions for Sunderland’s three goals were all outstanding.

Hamburg are the only side never to be relegated since the founding of the Bundesliga nearly half a century ago. But this season they are cutting it very fine. On Saturday they won a crucial match away against bottom of the Kaiserslautern 1-0. The loss has Kaiserslautern’s situation looking extremely desperate given they are now 10 points from safety and only six rounds of play left. Hamburg are now two points above the relegation zone but things are so tight that none of the teams in the bottom half of the table can consider themselves safe.

Was it the loan spell with Arsenal or is it just that the stars and Thierry Henry finally aligned? Last week he had two goals and an assist against Colorado Rapids and he was named MLS Player of the Week. ON Saturday it was a hat trick and an assist in the Red Bulls 5-2 win against Montreal Impact. Surely enough for back to back POTW and a strong case for Player of the Month.

A back four of Simpson, Williamson, Perch and Gutierrez had the look of a championship defense rather than one that could start and perform as an effective Premier League unit. But effective they were in shutting out Liverpool. That might have changed had referee Martin Atkinson spotted Danny Simpson’s hand ball on the line or if Andy Carroll had had the courage to stay upright after rounding keeper Tim Krul. But nonetheless they got the job done.

There were few pundits who suggested anything but continued success for MLS champion Los Angeles Galaxy this season. But with just one win in five games in all competitions so far Mr. Crisis seems to have taken up residence at the Home Depot Centre. The latest of three home losses came on Saturday evening against the New England Revolution withe visitors winning 3-1.

The number of pundits and tweeters (many held in high regard) who suggested that the head butt by Reina was only worthy of a yellow card. You can square that for those who suggested that referee’s decision should change based on whether or not contact was made. Contact is irrelevant to the referee’s decision – he is judging intent. As for those that attempt to use Perch’s behavior as some sort of reason to mitigate  Reina’s punishment – “Reina should only get a yellow card because Perch exaggerated”. All I can say is have fun making up your own Laws of the Game.

The Spurs – Swansea game was a cracker. Adebayor got two goals but it was Garth Bale that shone the brightest. He tormented the Swansea defense all game.

For all  fans who love car wrecks. Inter and Genoa shared nine goals including a phenomenal four penalty kicks. And there were two players sent off.

 

Do you have a winner or loser from this weekend?

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9 responses to “Thierry Henry Super-Nova, Galaxy Shrinking, Hamburg Not Cooked Yet”

  1. Roberto Senyera says:

    I’ve said it once and I’ll say it until the cows come home.

    Mancini (Al Pacino) is a putz. I could have managed that squad ten points clear of Old Red Nose and his motley crew. You may laugh at that, but, those that laugh think of this: exchange the managers of the two Mancs and ask yourself if the title would already be wrapped up. Hint: it’s a rhetorical question.

    Pacino out, Mourinho in.

    Dalglish out, Rafa back.

    Now, on to solving the Middle East debacle …

  2. Astronomer says:

    Roberto Senyera,
    I agree that Mancini is an over-rated manager. He won a few scudettos with Inter, but those were the years directly after the 2006 scandal that consumed Serie A (Juventus were in Serie B and Milan were in the doldrums).

    As for Mancini’s record in the Champions League with Inter, it is there for all to see.

    I firmly believe that if the Arab owners persist with Mancini, Man City will underachieve vis-a-vis what is theoretically expected of a team that has been built with so much money.

    So, yes, if Sir Alejandro manages to win the EPL again (as is looking likely as of this weekend), then the Arab owners should fire Mancini.

    As to who should succeed him, Jose Mourinho of course would be the strongest candidate (both for the EPL and the Champions League).

    However, I believe that even Rafael Benitez would be a good replacement (I am not sure about the EPL, but a Benitez-managed Man City would truly be a formidable rival in a knockout tournament, like the Champions League).
    _______________________________________________

  3. Erik says:

    Winners:

    Reading: When Reading is playing in the EPL is August they will look back on this weekend’s game @ West Ham as the main reason why. Lose this game and they are down 2 to the Hammers. By winning it they just about put themselves back in the EPL

    Roberto Martinez: As I said last week – Brendan Rogers is my choice for EPL MOY UNLESS Wigan stays up and then Martinez gets it for keeping up a side that probably isn’t good enough to make the T6 Promotion Playoffs in the LC – and keep them in the EPL. As Bobby stated many times last season the fact this seems to be an annual happening for Wigan – struggling to get 17th and stay up – might actually HELP them because they can bank on experience of doing this and any time you have experience doing something all future times doing it are easier than the first go round.

    MM: Every game that Wolves plays that MM is no longer a part of makes him look better and better and better. At least Wolves were competitive under MM. Now they are nothing more than cones for teams to dribble around before firing the ball into the net and seeing what pathetic marking they have – those cones aren’t much of a dilemma for teams. Would/Should Wolves bring back MM next season? Why not – the penny pinching owners could do worse and not much better.

    Losers:

    West Ham: IF you desire to play in the EPL next season you CAN’T lose a home game to a T6 side – especially one of the two above you. I sooooooooo hope the Hammers stay down and now it looks like they will have to fight thru the quagmire known as the Promotion Playoff to do that

    Man City: When the Houston Rockets won the NBA Title – the next year they struggled greatly until they defied odds and won it again. Then HC Rudy Tomjanovich said, “Don’t ever underestimate the heart of a champion!” We saw and see that in Man United. We DON’T see that with City. It is easy to make that 5-foot putt on the first hole of Augusta. That same 5-footer on the 72nd hole knowing if you make it you win the Masters is what separates Champions from those who wish they were Champs but never will be. Man City can beat up teams in August and September but come late March – on………that is when things get more difficult and you either step up your game or spend the entire off season wondering “WTF Happened?” IF City is banking all their hopes on April 30 they are in trouble. And as we saw with the Balotelli free kick debacle – when you place your interests above the team that isn’t good.

    Perch and Dzeko: I officiate High School basketball. Saturday I do some off-season league games. In one game a kid drove to the hoop and the defender flopped worse than Vlade Divac in an attempt to get a charging call. He was somewhat mad I didn’t give him the call. I told him the next time he flops that badly I’m going to give him a Technical Foul. Too bad the same wasn’t said to Dzeko and Perch. Perch got a Yellow for the play but when he flopped he should have been given a Red Card for it. Dzeko deserved a Yellow for his. As long as officials reward diving players will continue to do it. WE allow appeals of red Cards based on video – I’d like to see divers penalized after the fact, too. One game the first time and it doubles every time after that. THAT will stop diving ASAP.

  4. Doug says:

    Bobby – Any thoughts on the death of Giorgio Chinaglia? Back in the day he was just amazing with the NASL Cosmos

  5. J says:

    Wins by Bolton, QPR and Wigan put Aston Villa in a position where they may need 2 points from their last 7 games to stay up:

    @Liverpool
    Stoke
    @United
    Sunderland
    Bolton
    @West Brom
    Tottenham
    @Norwich

  6. ttred says:

    Big Winner: Manchester United!

  7. Doug – I think others will say it better than me. Probably the only thing I might want to add is this. I remember reading about his scoring exploits for Lazio and his selection for Italy in the early 70s. The article related his early days with Swansea and the whole piece at the time just never made sense. How could anyone fail to make it with a struggling Football League side but go on to become a superstar in Italy. To some extent it still doesn’t.

    No doubt his early death will spur greater interest in the Cosmos. The book and the movie “Once in a Lifetime” were both terrific.

  8. Rob says:

    Winners: Liverpool supporters…and, maybe, Kenny Dalglish. Could the King be doing what Harry Redknapp did in the first few games of the season so the board would sign Scott Parker?

    Surely with Liverpool’s HUGE dip in form, the owners are going to put forth more investment in players in the upcoming transfer window.

    Yes, I’m saying all that with a straight face…

  9. Ed Gomes says:

    The Red Sox fans are already complaining that all the free agent money went to soccer. Not so sure another $189 mil spending spree is in the cards.
    Is it true that Carroll called Dalglish a joke and tore his Jersey? Not shocking if true.

    Maybe Henry discovered his love for the game once again while training with Arsenal.

    Lost to QPR this late in the season? Really?

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