Do you ever have that feeling of guilt even though you know you’ve done nothing wrong?
You know the sort of thing. You’re walking through the ‘Nothing to Declare’ channel at the airport and, even though you’ve got nothing incriminating in your suitcase aside from dirty underwear, a Sooty hand puppet and a copy of Jimmy, the autobiography of Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink, you can’t help looking furtive and making yourself a prime candidate for ‘Step this way, sir’. A guilty conscience is ingrained in our psyche I guess.
So even though I lay claim to not having a racist bone in my body and have for years lived and worked in harmony with a variety of creeds and cultures, I couldn’t help but feel on edge that today, of all days, I would suffer some mental aberration or seizure that would make me involuntarily utter some hideous racist outburst in the presence of police head-cams, TV cameras and thousands of fans who have been encouraged to spill the beans on their fellow man. Fortunately the day passed without incident and I remain a free man and in possession of my season ticket.
My last visit to Loftus Road was in 1970 when we won 4-2 on the route to Wembley. I was fortunate enough to go to every tie of that success, excluding the replays. Extrapolating forward my next visit to QPR is scheduled for 2054 and I’m hoping by then that a) the ground has been demolished because it was a dump 42 years ago and it’s got worse since and b) I’ve received a long service medal.
The first half
The pre kick-off handshake was abandoned under instructions from the FA. How pathetically lily-livered and feeble is that? Tell the players to grow up and act like men and get on with it.
On Chelsea TV they reported that during the Majorca trip the players and management discussed the strengths and weaknesses of our recent attacking play and on the following night our defensive play, with a view to doing more of the good bits and ironing out the bad bits. Based on the first half it’s hard to fathom what could have been discussed. Our tempo was pathetically slow. We must hold the record for the maximum number of passes to get to the half way line. I’m guessing that in Majorca the players practised walking from the pool to the bar to fetch another sangria and decided that this should set the template for the pace of the game. Our creativity was zero and following on from Norwich we never looked likely to shoot, let alone score.
The second half
We upped the tempo to play at the speed the players walked from the pool to the restaurant when feeling hungry. Hopefully on the next jolly in the sun we’ll be able to shift the tempo up a gear to the speed of the Germans getting to the pool to lay out their towels.
Unlike the meeting in the league earlier in the season QPR were surprisingly subdued. In the league game QPR started quick and were in our faces. This time around they sat back and seemed to be determined for a replay, highlighted by their keeper Kenny scolding one of the ball boys for getting the ball back into play too quickly.
But exactly like the league meeting we had to play this game with nine men. That’s because Sturridge and Malouda were pathetic passengers.
Last season and the beginning of this season I’d concluded Sturridge was useless and never going to make the top grade. A couple of performances, including Newcastle away, made me start to doubt my opinion but today, and Norwich last week, have made my mind up. He’s disinterested, showboats, doesn’t put in the effort and always looks at the defender rather than the ball when it’s coming towards him. This is presumably to either avoid injury or know when to fall over when in the vicinity of a defender and earn a dubious penalty. To cap it all he then tried to take the ball off Mata to take the spot kick, presumably arguing that since he’d fallen over that “earned” him the right to take the spot kick. Sturridge needs to either grow up or get out. He should be more embarrassed than Sir Philip Hampton to take his wages this week.
Mata tucked the penalty away very nicely to make it 1-0.
As for Malouda has there ever been a winger that moves so slowly, can’t beat a man and wants to pass back instead of forward. The sooner he gets moved out the better but he’s more likely to join Bosingwa and get his contract extended.
After 70 minutes Ramires got injured and created seven minutes of injury time. I hope he’s OK because he’s the only one with speed, energy and enthusiasm (JT only has the last two attributes).
This was a shocking performance. Thankfully it could never be the most shocking performance of the day because the England cricket 11 had earned that crown just a few minutes into the first half. However paradoxically we always looked comfortable and in control, which is testament to how poor QPR were, and their hooped shirts and baggy shorts only enhanced the effect of them looking like a Sunday pub team.
We were dire but still managed to win 1-0 with a penalty that wasn’t. Our fans started the usual chant of “Que sera, sera whatever will be, will be, we’re going to Wembley, que sera, sera”. Based on this performance it looks unlikely, although the other remaining teams look distinctly average.
The press reports
The Sunday Telegraph, Jason Burt: “The Football Association cancelled the pre-match handshakes because of the maelstrom surrounding Anton Ferdinand and John Terry and, unfortunately, somewhere along the way the football appeared to have been cancelled also.”
The Observer, Jamie Jackson: “After the phantom handshake, this FA Cup tie barely lit up and had only one potential powder-keg moment, which was happily a good old-fashioned football incident: the disputed Juan Mata penalty that won the game.”
The Independent on Sunday, Glenn Moore: “There was no handshake, and precious little football either, at Loftus Road yesterday as a promising FA Cup tie was suffocated by the controversy surrounding it. So determined were both teams to avoid further inflaming the tension provoked by John Terry’s alleged use of racist language towards Anton Ferdinand in their last meeting that QPR even accepted with only moderate anger the highly dubious penalty award which settled the match in Chelsea’s favour.”
The Official Chelsea FC Website: “A Juan Mata penalty an hour into the game settled Saturday lunchtime’s fourth round FA Cup tie. It was an unremarkable derby but unlike the league defeat here in October, the Chelsea team maintained our discipline in defence and in the tackle to limit the home side’s threat.”