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Kettle has Rangers steaming
Kettle has Rangers steaming
Saturday, 20th Jan 2007 20:31

An abysmal two minutes of refereeing cost QPR a valuable point against an impressive Southampton side at Loftus Road on Saturday.

"Right, be calm, engage with the cosmic forces of Mars and Mercury and concentrate. What number are they telling you? Which mystical destination are they pointing towards? What is your destiny? I'm going to have to ask the question after this selection. Focus your mind on a happy place."

"I'm going to take box 22 Noel. My cousin's mate had a baby on the 22nd of November 1980 and you should see him now with his fake tan and skinny jeans - gorgeous. He takes me to a happy place when I'm low so I'm feeling positive about box 22."

"Right, 22 is Sharon's selection. The ancient Greek Gods have guided her to Mike's box, number 22. I'd like everybody to join hands please, and start chanting 'blue, blue, blue' if we think blue then blue shall come to us and ejaculate a quarter of a million pounds back to Basildon for Sharon and her 19 kids. We must think blue. If anybody in this audience now is thinking anything other than blue then Sharon's loss will be your fault, and the cosmos shall frown on you at least until Thursday. You will be back after the break."

Noel Edmonds gets on my tits.

Every day of the bloody week some skint nobody sits in that chair on Channel Four and Mr Money Bags Edmonds tells them constantly that if they think positively a quarter of a million quid will drop into their laps just like that. "If everybody thinks blue then the next box you open will have a blue number in and you can finally pay off that couple of grand you owe to Ocean Finance."

What a load of bollocks. You can think about whatever you like but once the boxes have been handed out, that's it, the numbers don't change, they don't magically jump from box to box because somebody at the back is worried that they left the iron on instead of thinking of a low blue number.

I recall a time when we were threatened with ejection from the Conservative Club in Cleethorpes before a Grimsby v QPR match because my Grandad had shouted at the men on the bowling green: "It's no use talking to it, it'll go where the bloody hell it likes." He was dead right.

You may have gathered that I think all this positive thinking nonsense sweeping the nation may be a pile of horse crap.

A week ago at the KC Stadium Hull City hit the cross bar to compound their misery at 1-0 down and somebody said to me that it wasn't their day and we'd win. I said that was rubbish and they said I should think positively. We lost. I stopped in at the off license on the way home with the intention of getting tanked up and dulling the pain - I took a load to the counter but it didn't meet the required amount for a debit card payment so I went to fetch another load and dropped it, smashing the bottles quite spectacularly over the floor. "We'll have to charge you for those," the shop keeper said, " but don't worry, that takes you over the required amount for a debit card transaction now. See, every cloud."

And since Saturday that's all I've heard. "Every cloud," "plenty more fish," "look on the bright side" "it could be worse," "better luck next time" etc etc et bloody cetera.

I spent nine hours on the road on Tuesday to go to work and then to Luton only to find that some eejit who should have noticed the puddles on the pitch at lunch time hadn't and therefore the referee had to roll in from Somerset to point them out and call the match off an hour before kick off, and then I drove home. And all the steward could say to me was "you've not had far to come, it could be worse."

I then spent the next two days at home, at work and on the message board being told off for being miserable and negative. I'll give you miserable and negative. You foot my petrol bill for the last seven days and then we'll talk about being miserable and negative. My financial situation at the moment seems to rest on a successful shotgun raid on an HSBC branch and I've got steward at Luton saying "see you next week" because they couldn't be bothered to check the pitch before quarter to seven.

I've had my arse kicked by Mrs Clive who told me to stop being so miserable and just be thankful that I'm not starving or dying or something along those lines and start bucking my ideas up. And on Saturday I did.

I got home from work on Friday night and tucked into a couple of beers confident that my prediction of a 2-0 defeat on the prediction league would be wrong and we'd win 1-0. I went on the message board and said I was confident, I told Northern the Elder I was confident of a win in the car on the way to the station in the morning, and throughout the day I told people I couldn't explain why but I was optimistic. "We'll win today, we'll win today, we'll win today" I said it and smiled so much that I cracked my teeth.

By the time the match started there was so much positive energy flowing through me that I could almost feel a quarter of a million pounds coming out of box nine (it's in box nine one time in every five shows by the way). And what did I get as my reward? For listening to my family, loved ones, friends and message board allies and looking on the bright side and thinking of the positives and focussing on the good vibes? Well we got beaten of course, courtesy of a catastrophically inept refereeing decision, and I had that extra feeling of disappointment because I'd convinced myself we were going to win and wasn't prepared.

Noel Edmonds talks out of his arse, all this positive thinking malarkey is for people who enjoy feeling like they want to jump under the Whitechapel tube rather than get on it after things have gone wrong. At least as a pessimist I was right most of the time. Miserable Clive jumped ten places in the prediction league after this one by the way.

If you are one of those sadists who tries to find the positives in everything well here's the silver lining to jam up your backside - I got to see Gareth Bale today. What a footballer that boy is. A pleasure to watch, I felt privileged to watch someone with such talent.

All of my positive thinking flew in the face of the facts. Gregory was forced to pick a side with two centre halves at full back and a central midfielder and striker on the wings. So the makeshift back four in front of Royce was Rehman on the right, Mancienne and Stewart in the middle and Timoska making a home debut at left back. Baidoo and Smith were the last men standing to play on the flanks with Lomas and Bircham in the centre. Up front Jones and Blackstock pitted their youth and enthusiasm against the wily Lundekvam, Pele (stop laughing) and Powell at the heart of the Southampton team.

Up front the Saints had a striker in form, Rasiak, and further back they had the division's best player Gareth Bale but were missing the likes of Idiakez and Skacel who have caused QPR problems in the past.

The gap in league positions between the sides shone through in the opening stages. QPR put the effort in but lacked any kind of quality going forward, Southampton kept the ball better and created more chances. Gareth Bale sent a dangerous low cross fizzing through the six yard box in the opening stages and then in the eighth minute Simon Royce attempted to punch a cross but smacked it straight up in the air, as it dropped he tried to punch again with similar results and the defence had to close ranks to scramble the ball away. Catching is a lost art in modern goal keeping as I will rant about later.

Marc Bircham hit a long distance effort well wide in a rare moment of action at the School End but the normal flow of play was soon restored when Licka broke clear into the penalty area and fired a shot towards the near post which Royce did well to save at full stretch. Five minutes later Bircham pulled up in the midfield as Southampton broke and in his absence Licka and Bale combined to set up Wright whose low shot was nervously turned behind by Royce.

You could tell as soon as Bircham went down that he wouldn't be coming back and Stefan Bailey was summoned from the bench to replace him. Bailey went onto to produce his usual display of fantastic tackles and great effort interspersed with abysmal passing.

The first half was spent almost exclusively in between the QPR penalty area and the halfway line. Mancienne and Stewart were impressive at centre half, Rehman was turning in his best display for a number of months and Timoska was having the home debut you dream of over at left back. In midfield Lomas, Bailey and Smith were all working hard but none had the quality required to create anything for the front two who cut lonely figures as a result. Every now and again they'd spray a nice ball out to the left looking for the only creative player we've got who can consistently drag his arse off the treatment table but of course Lee Cook was serving a ban for his hissy fit at Hull.

The game looked for long periods like a training session of attack against defence. Southampton would come at Rangers, the home side would break things up but then simply give the ball back to Southampton on the halfway line and set up for another assault. You couldn't fault the effort of the QPR players, although Ray Jones looked leggy and tired for most of the game, but there just wasn't the quality required there.

The defence restricted Southampton to few chances but at the other end Rangers only managed to create a couple of openings of their own. Blackstock dragged a twenty yard shot wide after good work down the left from Smith and Timoska. On half time a lung busting run from the middle by Stefan Bailey caused Saints a problem, Bailey finally found the pass to go with the guts and endeavour but Blackstock snatched at the chance and sent a shot wide when he had enough time to finish comfortably. We looked like the away side, and it's understandable when you look at the players we had out.

Bale continued to be the game's outstanding player. It's hard to remember a left back having such an influence on a game since Gino's debut against Barnsley at Loftus Road. He was involved in the final move of the half in injury time which resulted in Kenwyn Jones firing a low bouncing shot which Royce did well to watch and hold. Jones and Rasiak against Stewart and Mancienne was a terrific contest to watch - all four players seemed to be on top of their game and engaged in a great battle during the first half.

The second half started as the first half had ended - with Southampton on the attack and Bale involved all over the park. Within minutes of the restart he'd floated a glorious free kick into the back post which Powell headed wide when he should have scored.

On the hour Damion Stewart could only half clear a ball in the penalty area and Wright volleyed over the bar under pressure from Timoska. The Fin was also on hand later to cover right across the other side of the pitch from left back and rescue Mancienne and Rehman with a magnificent ball and all tackle into touch as Southampton threatened to break. This earned him a bit of an ovation from the home crowd and thanks from Mancienne.

As with the first half Southampton had the quality, but Rangers had the endeavour and the home side could have taken the lead when Blackstock hooked a corner towards goal but the ball was cleared inside the six yard box. As the half wore on though Southampton started to have more chances and when Wright's low drive was parried by Royce Rasiak seemed certain to score but he pushed the ball too far wide and fired into the side netting. A trademark free kick from Bale went fractionally wide of the post as Southampton continued to press.

Gregory then introduced Nygaard for Jones who'd looked out of sorts all day - perhaps a rest on Tuesday night at Luton with the crucial Barnsley game in mind should be considered.

Ten minutes from time the opening goal went Southampton's way. Bale was involved of course, swinging a corner over into the six yard box and when Royce dropped it under pressure from Wright-Phillips Rasiak was on hand to tap into the empty net.

That seemed to be that and few could have argued had it stayed 1-0. Rangers had put a really hard shift in and done all they could with their entire creative department sidelined but Southampton were the better side. However within two minutes Rangers had gone down the other end and bagged an identical goal of their own. Lomas' long throw from the left was dropped by Davis under pressure from Stewart and Blackstock hooked in an equaliser which was immediately ruled out by referee Mr Kettle.

Now poor refereeing you can just about forgive. They're only human. Last week at Hull we were treated to a horrible display from Mr Miller, but he was equally bad for both sides and was consistently crap. Mr Kettle on the other hand penalised one side with his ineptness. He allowed the Southampton goal, rightly, then disallowed an identical goal by QPR. To this point the free kick count was more than double in Southampton's favour as well. Unforgivable refereeing.

The modern goalkeeper's obsession with punching the ball does my head in. They'll come out and punch even the most routine cross and blame it on the new football. If the new football is so hard to catch get your arse out on the training ground for an extra hour or so each day and work on catching it. Royce and Davis are both classic examples of the modern goalkeeper - flapping around under crosses for fear of this new ball turning ninety degrees in the air and making them look stupid. On yesterday's evidence neither of them could catch a cold if I threw one at them, and they both got exactly what they deserved - goals against. Davis is not a goalkeeper that inspires any confidence as QPR goals against Southampton and Ipswich (twice) in recent seasons shows.

George Burley's reaction said it all for me - once the play had gone down the other end he turned to Davis and bollocked him for not catching the ball. The keeper just held his hand up and apologised.

Quite how that referee can justify his decision, or indeed drag an arse that large around a track fast enough to pass the required fitness tests, is beyond me. He can't justify it, there is no justification. Scandalous officiating - he goes home tonight with an expense payment in his pocket and he'll be back in the Championship next year. QPR may not be so lucky.

To make matters worse a long ball forward from Baird found Wright-Phillips in behind the defence and he smashed a brilliant second goal into the bottom corner but for me had Blackstock's goal been allowed both teams would have settled for a point. Wright Phillips would never have had that time and space if Rangers weren't pushing forward. Take nothing away from the Southampton man though, who'd been introduced for the impressive Jones at 0-0, it was a great piece of skill and finish.

Rangers were not as good as Southampton, and lacked quality all across the pitch with injuries to Cook, Ainsworth and Rowlands rendering the midfield toothless in attack. But they did their job, they worked hard for the team, they restricted more talented opponents and they deserved more than they got. The referee let them down, for the second week in a row. They say what comes around goes around - well it's time for it to start going around. The bottom of our referee league is made up almost exlcuively of referee's we've had in the last two months. Just when we need things to be going our way more than ever we're treated to one incompetent tit after another.

The return of Cook and one of Rowlands and Ainsworth ahead if the trip to Barnsley is massively important. I'm confident we'll win there with those players involved. If Cook comes back into the team on Tuesday and gets booked and therefore suspended again for the trip to Oakwell then he wants his arse kicking because with him today we'd have drawn at least. You knew I'd have to say it at some point but that's now four games Cook hasn't started this year, and we haven't scored in any of them.

On to Luton now, weather allowing.

You R's.

QPR: Royce 5, Rehman 7, Mancienne 8, Stewart 7, Timoska 8, Baidoo 4, Bircham 5 (Bailey 20, 6), Lomas 6, Smith 6, Ray Jones 4 (Nygaard 75, 5),Blackstock 6.
Subs Not Used: Cole, Kanyuka, Furlong.

Southampton: Davis 5, Baird 7, Lundekvam 7, Powell 7, Bale 9, Licka 8 (McGoldrick 74, 6), Wright 7, Pele 7, Viafara 7, Rasiak 7,Jones 8 (Wright-Phillips 74, 7).
Subs Not Used: Bialkowski, Ostlund, Lallana.
Goals: Rasiak 81, Wright-Phillips 90.

Attendance: 14,686

QPR Star Man - Sam Timoska 8- Mancienne was excellent as always but Timoska just shades it for me - looked a good player on and off the ball and executed some terrific sliding tackles. Now we just hope that he doesn't go the way of lots of our recent buys and suffer a crash in form after a good debut.

Ref: T Kettle (Berkshire) 2 - Incompetence of the worst kind because it only affected one of the teams. Incompetence that goes against both sides is forgivable because referees are only human but the goal that was and the goal that wasn't were a disgrace to the refereeing profession. How can there be any justification for that decision? All we ask for is consistency. This useless idiot probably couldn't even spell the word. Scandalous.

Photo: Action Images

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