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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

Winning Titles, Attempting To Escape Relegation & Doing Favours

Written by on April 22, 2012 | 11 Comments »
Posted in Winners and Losers

 The first champions of one of the big five leagues in Europe was decided this weekend. Borussia Dortmund retained their Bundesliga title after a 2-0 win against Borussia Monchengladbach left them 8 points ahead of Bayern Munich. With only two games remaining Bayern has simply run out of games.

 The fans who woke up in order to watch the Arsenal Chelsea scoreless draw might have been better served staying in bed. The game was a wasteland as far as creative, attacking football was concerned with poor passing and terrible finishing. Chelsea played as if they were just happy to get the game over and done with while Arsenal missed the drive and cohesion that Arteta normally brings to the side. 

Even after a point deduction Rangers look set to finish second in the Scottish Premier League. But they are not going to receive a UEFA license for next season and the club (if they survive a laboring administration process) will not be permitted to play in the qualifying rounds of the Champions League.

That means that whoever finishes third will get the place instead. Dundee United overtook St Johnstone on Saturday beating the home side 2-0. With a one point lead on St. Johnstone, United now sit fourth with four games remaining. Motherwell currently sits third and United is scheduled to travel to play them on the final day of the Scottish league season.

The rise-rise-fall-fall-fall and now rise again of Alan Pardew is one of the most fascinating stories of this Premier League season. His well-drilled Newcastle side rolled over visitors Stoke on Saturday. Cabaye was terrific with an assist and a couple of goals but the team overall moved like a well oiled machine. Not sitting too deep and allowing Stoke to pump balls into the penalty area for Crouch to fed on or too high that would have allowed the tricky Etherington to exploit safe behind the back four. Stoke finished the match without a shot on goal. Six successive wins and clean sheets in five of the wins.

Spurs’ fans must be apoplectic after another weekend brought more dropped points. Playing in the late game on Saturday they already knew they had a chance to pick up points on both Arsenal and Chelsea and needed a win to keep pace with Newcastle who had beaten Stoke earlier. What seemed a few weeks ago to be a stroll for 3rd has now turned into a nervous scramble for a top 4 finish. Spurs are now at the stage where no game looks easy and now they can only make the top four with  help from other teams. Anything less than top four is going to lead to some soul searching by all connected with the club. 

 Not mathematically done yet but Real Madrid will not allow a seven point lead with four games remaining to slip through their fingers. For the first time since 2008 the Liga title is heading to the Bernabeu. The 2-1 win over Barcelona at the Camp Nou was well deserved and a just reward. Madrid was disciplined in defence and dangerous on the counter-attack. 

 If QPR does stay in the Premier League no doubt the January transfer window signings made by Mark Hughes will receive a lot of the credit for the London club’s run to survival. But after watching QPR over the last few weeks there is no Rangers’ player who has worked harder or has committed more to the cause than Jamie Mackie. He was at it again when QPR beat Spurs on Saturday. He was aggressive in attack and defense and there was one memorable tackle late in the first half with Scott Parker. Parker came off second best. 

 Lecce continued their fine form in which they have lost just one in their last 12 matches. This time it was a 1-1 draw away to Lazio. When you consider that they are still in a relegation it emphasizes how unlikely their run of form actually is. Up until the New Year Lecce had only won twice and they had collected just 9 points from 16 games. Since the start of 2012 they have added 26 more points in 17 games. Two teams’ just above them (Parma and Fiorentina) are on their schedule before the end of the season along with Juventus, Napoli and Chievo on the last day.

Porto consolidated their lead at the top of the Portuguese Liga and enjoy a four point advantage with three games remaining. On Saturday Porto beat Beira Mar 3-0. Porto’s league record over the last two seasons has been remarkable. They have only lost once in that time and it came in January against Gil Vicente. Prior to that loss the last defeat had come away to Sporting Lisbon in February 2010. Even more astounding is that you have to go back to October 25, 2008 to find the last time Porto lost at home – it was against Leixoes. 

 Everton rolled over last weekend against Liverpool in their FA Cup semi final but it was very different on Sunday at Old Trafford. After trailing 3-1 and 4-2 Everton breathed more life into the chase for the Premier League title with a fight-back that left Manchester ruing defensive miscues. Jelavic scored two but Everton’s rally was sparked by Steven Pienaar and an intimidating Marouane Fellaini. Goals from Fellaini and Pienaar book-ended Jelavic’s second and the result had many of the Old Trafford leaving with furrowed brows.

Any that stand out either way for you this past weekend?

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11 responses to “Winning Titles, Attempting To Escape Relegation & Doing Favours”

  1. Boris says:

    I watched a lot of games this weekend…

    Newcastle looked so good. The two strikers, Ba and Cisse look so dangerous together.

    I just don’t know what to say about Tottenham. Friedel was guilty for the goal but the whole team looked like they had already given up on the Champions League. They clearly missed Adebayor’s presence in the box.

    Dortmund were so much fun to watch. Perisic yet again proved that he belonged in the starting lineup. It is interesting to see what this young squad can do in Europe next year.

    Jelavic continues to impress. It is rare for a foreign striker to fit in the lineup so quickly. I am sure his experience in the SPL had helped him a little but he is proving to be quite a bargain for David Moyes. I can’t wait to see what he can do for Croatia in the summer.

    I was very impressed with Madrid. Barcelona had finally been beaten. What a great performance by Madrid’s midfield.

  2. Carmelo Gabriele says:

    Bobby that was a great recap of the weekend!

    I felt bad for St. Johnstone, they were missing 3 key men in midfield & it showed. Not to take anything away from Dundee United they deserved it.

    Borussia Dortmund in my eyes the last 2 years or so have played my favorite brand of football anywhere… even more than Barca. Its simply personal preference, considering I love Barca, as a team culture & the way Pep as set them up for the long term. BVB just combine aggression, pace, skill, tempo & reckless youth that is unmatched anywhere in the world. Yes they were naive in the Champions League. They were cut open & beaten. But it does negate the great football Jurgen Klopp as those kids playing… one of the best stadiums in the world & it’s always packed, hopefully the new Bundesliga TV $ will allow them to keep this team together.

    Tottenham have no excuse, shocking.
    Arsenal have done enough for 3rd & Chelsea were obviously thinking about Barca…
    Spurs were sad. Friedel will want that goal back. I think a lot of these guys see the writing on the wall. Harry will manage England. Luka is still mad about not being able to go to Chelsea. Spurs have a wage ceiling and pay structure, that I admire. Once Harry leaves I do not see Levy busting the wage structure to make the new manager happy. Harry would have cried & moaned all summer until Daniel Levy would have made a couple of concessions (poor Portsmouth)

    BTW I vote Alan Pardew for Manager of the year. Brendan Rodgers I really really like, but Swansea have a bit of the sneaky surprise factor, lets see how they cope next year. Btw same discourse for Paul Lambert.

  3. Carmelo Gabriele says:

    One more thing, I cannot wait to see English teams play Juventus in next year’s Champions League… the way Antonio Conte as the bianconeri playing I’m very impressed… Juve right now bring aggression, pace & skill. They are also very fluid, they’ll play anything from 4-3-3, 4-2-4, 3-5-2, they match can anyone right now… heck they brushed Roma aside today & it could have been a cricket score if not for the fact that is very frowned upon in Italy to do that. It’s not easy to say for me, I am lifelong Interista, some of my first football memories were watching Trapattoni’s Inter win… Zenga, Bergomi, Ferri, Berti, Serena, Brehme & Matthaus….

  4. Erik says:

    Winner: All of the bars/restaurants in the area of The Etihad next Monday! WHOA!

    BIGGEST WINNER: Those with tix to the United/City game looking to sell them. These people just made a lot more money for this efforts if/when they choose to sell

    Winner: MM for not being a part of The Titanic – aka Wolves. At least give an effort guys!

    Winner: The LC Promo Playoffs are gonna be UNREAL! West Ham, Blackpool an Brum all in it and maybe Cardiff City for the umpteenth time in a row and ONLY ONE side will emerge. This looks like it might be one of the best LC Promotion Playoffs EVER. Fans with no rooting interest in the outcome will be treated to 5 games of amazing action!

    Winner: Those of us who root for Blackburn to go down so The Chicken Farmers can be made to look like the !@#$%^&*( they are for sacking Big Sam last season and actually thinking they could be a perennial T5 club. Steve Kean isn’t 100% to blame but he will take the axe – although not sure that is so bad – getting away from that mess.

    Winner: MY LOS ANGELES KINGS!!!!!!!!!! TYVM Jarred Stoll for firing home the GWG less than 5 minutes into OT and setting up a series with the Blues. Kings will win it and face Nashville in the WC Finals – and lose. Nashville is going to win the 2012 Stanley Cup. But who will come out of the East – no clue.

    Loser: Pompey will now be playing in League One come August! Let me say that one more time………Pompey will now be playing in League One come August. What a mess that place has become and it is truly sad but as we all know – when you spend beyond your means you eventually have to “pay the bill”. All of us that is except Bobby whose 8-figure annual salary sees him burning $100 bills in the fireplace to stay warm in those bone chilling frigid Winnipeg winters.

    Loser: Keira Knightley for failing to show up at my place on Friday and helping me celebrate my birthday………..well – I think we know how I wanted this to end but never did. Thanks Keira! NOT!

  5. Erik says:

    One more thing to keep in mind.

    When City poured it on @ United and won 6-1 we thought those goals might make a difference and are they ever. Let’s say instead of 6-1 City won 3-1. If that happened both sides would be +57 and now things would be very interesting come Monday if City won – even if by 1 goal they would have a 2-goal difference which is still doable. But City being up 6 means they will be up at least 8 if they win on Monday and that is NOT beatable.

    City poured it on for a reason and now that reason is looking better and better all the time

  6. Nigel Winterbottom says:

    Manchester United dropped two points against a very strong Everton team. In my opinion this was largely a result of tactical blundering by Alex Feruson.

    When I saw the team sheets, I was very concerned that Everton may take all three points from the game as ManU were clearly going to be outmatched in the midfield posession battle. Everton had their central midfield packed with Gibson, Fellaini, Neville and Pienaar, while United were playing with only Carrick and Scholes in this area. This seemed a very unwise selection choice by Ferguson who should have sacrificed a winger or striker in favour of an additional player in central midfield. I also felt it was a mistake to include Raphael at right back given Everton’s height advantage. My choice for this position (for this match) would have been Chris Smalling. Having said all this, I was surprised when ManU established a two goal lead and felt that either Park or Giggs should have been brought on at this point to shore up midfield and stem Everton’s attempts to get back in the match.

    Ferguson is always likely to make tactical selection blunders and this is certainly not the first time he has done this during the season.

    ManU remain likely to retain their title regardless of the upcoming Manchester derby result because Newcastle will likely defeat Man City and this may prove to be the deciding factor in the championship.

  7. John Bladen says:

    Wolves PL record under McCarthy: 5-7-14
    Wolves PL record since his sacking: 0-2-8

    Winner? McCarthy, I’d say. I can’t claim that they’d have stayed up with him in charge. Their defense has been awful for three seasons (at least), and it’s fair to put their lack of improvement defensively on McCarthy (whether it’s new players or more effective TG sessions). But clearly he had them playing a great deal better than Connor has.

    Loser? Me, for reading about Erik’s fantasy world…

  8. J Rob says:

    Totally agree about Jamie Mackie. Think he’s a great player and delighted that his grandfather was Scottish making him eligible for the Scottish national side.

    Anyone else think that a very significant difference between Barca and Real Madrid was their respective goal-keepers? Casillas made a couple of crucial saves in the first half while Valdes was at fault for Madrid’s first goal and you could argue his positioning wasn’t great for the second.

    Glad you didn’t mention Liverpool. The most wasteful team ever in front of goal? Kuyt, Maxi, Carroll, Suarez and others were all guilty on Sunday. Hitting the woodwork for the 30th time this season also. Starting to think there is a curse. Another day that would have been a 4-1 or 5-1 victory.

  9. Ed Gomes says:

    Nobody watches hockey.

    If Mancini plays Balotelli vs Man United you have to believe he’s hoping to get fired and just collect the remaining years, no.

    Horrible loss for Man United. Yes it’s a loss due to drop in points.

    Lets see, Spurs will struggle for Europa next season. They won’t be any European competition next season.

    I wish Newcastle still had Newcastle Brown Ale on the kit.

    Genoa penalized two dark matches. Doesn’t seem enough.

  10. Carmelo Gabriele says:

    Nigel, I don’t think you can really make a defensible argument that Sir Alex got the names wrong on the team sheet. Until the 83st minute they were cruising to a 4-2 victory.
    Quite honestly I watched the United players ease up, they let Everton string a couple of passes together & then Rafael fell asleep on BOTH instances of the last 2 Everton goals. I think the world of his energy, passion, drive, stamina, but for those last 2 goals he showed every bit of his 21 years of age. Sir Alex might regret not bringing in Chris Smalling (22yrs old 1.94m 90kg) to play right back to see of the game. The biggest factor to me was Fellaini effectively playing as a center forward receiving the ball to his feet & tons of composure & skill to find the open players…

  11. Carmelo Gabriele says:

    BTW the last time Everton scored 4 in an away game was David Moyes first away game in charge at Everton, against Derby County. Additionally Sir Alex could not do anything about Vidic’s absence, he probably would have handled Fellaini. Ferdinand struggled & Evans was not ready.

    I’m willing to make a suggestion to mr. Moyes play Maroune Fellaini like Big Sam used to play Kevin Davies at Bolton an watch Jelavic score 20 goals a year!
    Here is a stat for you 41 goals out his last 44 come on his first touch for Jelavic.

    the 2 stats I gave you come from Football weekly extra…. hehe… Ciao!

    Bobby did you see your fellow Scot James McFadden get a game? I think he is a terrific player… great touch & left foot, yes he lacks pace but I hate stereotypes & if McFadden was Italian or Spanish he would be scoring 10 goals a year in La Liga or Serie A! But he is Scottish & because he is 1.78m & 75kg he as a hard time getting a game in the British Isles… I don’t know if he likes the nightlife too much but I hope he gets regular football next year…

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