|Hughes on Chelsea, Cisse on Stoke, weekend tube closures â diary|
Tue 01st May 2012 22:55 by Clive Whittingham
Mark Hughes and his players have been keen to wash their hands of the disastrous 6-1 defeat at Chelsea on Sunday and focus on this weekend’s crucial home game against Stoke.
Hughes told the club’s official website: “We gave ourselves a mountain to climb. You come to Chelsea who are on a huge high after events of mid-week and you need to make sure you set your stall out early on and don't give them any encouragement. Unfortunately we weren't able to do that. We lost three or four goals in 20 minutes and there is no coming back from that. We were perhaps a little bit naive. Sometimes you have to take your medicine and accept it is not going to be your day.
“It is disappointing for our fans who were here in their numbers but we can't dwell on this result. Now we have to pick ourselves up and get ready for the final two games. We have disappointed a lot of people today including ourselves. Now we need a response for both ourselves and our supporters who backed us for the full 90 minutes."
Opposite number Roberto Di Matteo, who has still only lost once since taking over as caretaker manager of Chelsea in January and has led the side to two cup finals, strangely gave credit to his defence after the game, despite the makeshift back four being little more than spectators for most of the match.
The Italian told London24: “We had an unusual back-four today and they did brilliantly to keep QPR at bay. It’s great to see this team ethic and this team spirit from all these guys. After a Champions League game in midweek, it always proves difficult in the next game in the Premier League. I’m very pleased with the way we played and the result. I have to say that the team surprised me as well. I wasn’t expecting but I was hoping - they really put in a great performance today.”
The news doesn’t get much better for Rangers with top scorer Heidar Helguson expected to miss the remaining two games of the season with his troublesome groin injury. Mark Hughes told West London Sport: “We’re not sure whether Heidar will play again this season. He’s got a little bit of irritation around the area where he had the operation. The surgery helped him initially and Heidar being Heidar he was keen to come back and maybe did so too soon. It doesn’t look too serious, but we’ll have to keep an eye on it. We’ll know more in the next few days.”
Not that the official site can really do anything else given the circumstances, but we’re already being treated to the usual hollow words from the playing staff ahead of this weekend’s game with Stoke. Djibril Cisse says “understand what’s at stake” against Stoke (something that apparently slipped their minds on Sunday) but did, rather more interestingly, shed some light on why he celebrated his consolation goal at Stamford Bridge so much.
He said: "When you are 6-0 down it is difficult to celebrate when you score. People who know me know that my reaction was all my anger and all my frustration of the day coming out. But for me this is finished and my mind is already on this weekend and what we must do. We will all try to help each other to be ready for Sunday because it is a big, big game.
"It is a final for us. If we can win this game it will be a big step for us. We have all week to prepare ourselves and what is encouraging is that our home form is really good. That is what we need to concentrate on and work on. I like it when there is pressure. The manager will have to make his choices about who plays but whether you are on the pitch or on the bench you must be ready.”
Adel Taarabt, who missed the Chelsea game through suspension, added: “We have to forget that game now. It was obviously very difficult to watch, but it is over now and we have to move on. Chelsea have just beaten Barcelona, arguably the greatest Club in the world, over two legs to reach the Champions League Final, so we knew it would be difficult. Obviously the manner of the defeat hurt us and the fans - who were brilliant, even singing at 6-0 down - as well, but we have to believe we can still stay up. The most important thing for us now is to focus on Stoke. We have no choice but to win that game.”
In other news Rangers have released Northern Ireland youth international goalkeeper Gareth Deane but offered a first professional deal to his team mate Ben Brown. The QPR Under 18s won the Youth Alliance South East Conference again at the weekend with a 3-0 success at Peterborough but Deane told his Twitter followers today that despite an impressive season between the sticks, that included fine performances against Everton and Newcastle in the FA Youth Cup, Rangers believe he is too small to make the grade.
Coach Steve Gallen told the official website: "I am very, very proud of the boys. I felt all along that we had a great chance of winning the league, it was just a case of having everyone fit. We have missed players such as Bruno Andrade, Frankie Sutherland, Jordan Gibbons, Marcel Henry-Francis and Callum Webb for large parts of the season through injury and suspension but came through that test very well. We knew we would need to beat Peterborough on the last day and I was confident going into the game purely because of the way the lads trained on Thursday and Friday. They were very confident in the lead up to the match, and their attitude from the first whistle to the last was fantastic."
Hogan Ephraim has returned to QPR at the end of his loan spell with Bristol City. He appeared five times, scoring once at Middlesbrough, as the Robins beat the drop from the Championship but he has been out of the starting 11 for the past few weeks. Ephraim recently signed a one year extension to his contract at Loftus Road.
Elsewhere in the Championship Peter Ramage played a full 90 minutes for Birmingham as they beat champions Reading 2-0 to cement their play off place. They will face Ian Holloway’s Blackpool side.
Possible play off involvement for Patrick Agyemang as well who looked almost competent as Stevenage drew 2-2 at Sheffield United on Saturday evening. They must now only match Notts County’s result this weekend to make the play offs and potential win promotion into the second tier for the first time in the club’s history. Max Ehmer played 84 minutes of a 2-2 draw for Preston against champions Charlton. Lee Cook left the field injured after 40 minutes for the visitors.
In League Two Rowan Vine played the final 18 minutes of Gillingham’s 1-1 draw at Northampton without scoring.
Bad times at the bottom of League One for a host of former QPR players. Gary Waddock’s Wycombe side, which included Nikki Bull from the start and Gareth Ainsworth as a substitute on Saturday and has previously also had Scott Donnelly in midfield, slipped to a 4-3 home defeat by Notts County at the weekend and was relegated as a result.
County, managed by our former coach Keith Curle were 3-2 down with a minute to go but fought back to win in injury time and keep their play off hopes alive. The second Wycombe goal came courtesy of a Grant Basey penalty, conceded by County defender Damion Stewart. The Magpies are level on 70 points with sixth placed Stevenage going into the final weekend - Chris Day started Stevenage’s 2-2 draw with Sheffield United later that same day.
Wycombe will be joined in League Two next season by Exeter who lost their do-or-die match with Carlisle 4-1 at the weekend. Daniel Nardiello hit the bar with a penalty when the score was 3-1.
Richard Langley has put fingers to keyboard again this week for another excellent column on the current predicament of his former club. Talking about his part in our successful fight against relegation in 1999 he told West London Sport: “We would remind ourselves that we had so much to lose; our status as a professional footballer, playing in the Championship, pride and our salary. And of course no-one wants to have a relegation on their CV. We knew that going down could mean not getting another team. People had responsibilities, mortgages and families, and the wages were not as they are now. It was all about survival and we’re not just talking about football. The pressure was too much for some guys to deal with.
“I remember players who I once looked up to all of a sudden not looking as great as I had once seen, mostly because of the possibility of us being relegated. They played within themselves. They played scared. Being young and naive was an advantage for me. I was living my dream and didn’t let the desperate position we were in affect my displays, which was maybe the reason I’d managed to impress. What I did learn was that when there is pressure you can confront it or you can hide away. We are seeing signs of that this season and understandably so when the ante has been raised so much. Premier League survival is a must.”
- QPR fans will be on the edge of their seats on Wednesday night as Bolton play their crucial game in hand at home to Spurs. Bolton are just five goals behind QPR on the league ladder and haven’t lost at home to Tottenham since 1996. Fabrice Muamba, who suffered a heart attack on the field when the teams met in the FA Cup earlier this season, will be the home club’s guest of honour.
- Fulham became the thirteenth different side to take a positive result from Anfield this season tonight with a 1-0 away victory. Martin Skrtl scored an own goal which condemned Liverpool to a fourth home defeat of the season. Even if they win their remaining home game they still won’t better the seven home wins they managed when relegated from the top flight in 1954.
- Peter Crouch scored an own goal as Stoke were held a 1-1 draw by Everton. The Potters will have more say than most on who goes down with fixtures against QPR and Bolton still to come.
- Man City boss Roberto Mancini has rejected the somewhat ironic claims from Man Utd gaffer Alex Ferguson that the Italian tried to “referee the match” on Monday night as City took a big step towards the title with a 1-0 home win against their cross city rivals. Mancini said: "And him? He doesn't talk with the referees or fourth officials - never. I spoke with the fourth official and then Ferguson told me some kind words. I don't know why.”
The following tube and train closures are in place this Sunday as QPR host Stoke City at Loftus Road with a 2pm kick off.
- No Overground service from Clapham Junction to Olympia on the Shepherds Bush line. Local buses will accept rail tickets. Also no service between Gunnersbury and Willesden Junction.
- Engineering work in the Kings Cross area means no Circle Line between Edgware Road and Aldgate, no Metropolitan Line between Baker Street and Aldgate and no Hammersmith and City Line between Kings Cross and Barking.
- The District Line is suspended between Turnham Green and Ealing Broadway. All Piccadilly Line trains will call at Turnham Green but there is also no Piccadilly Line service between Acton Town and Uxbridge.
- The Northern Line is suspended on the High Barnet branch north of Camden Town all weekend. A replacement bus service operates with greatly increased journey times.
- The Victoria Line and Waterloo and City Line are closed all day Sunday and Monday.
Pictures – Action Images
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