‘Unconvincing’ is our middle name now. A nervy 1-0 win against QPR has further confirmed it. At least we’re still in the cup. There were some decent attacking moves from our side and while they were nice to see didn’t actually produce a goal for us. We needed something like a penalty and we got exactly that. Still think it was a soft penalty and you would see them not called more often. The way I see it, it’s a penalty nevertheless as Sturridge was in a position to head the ball into the goal and the push from behind (no matter how light it was) denied him.
I’m a big supporter of same treatment for events and incidents inside and outside the penalty box. It’s sometimes sickening to see the fouls during set pieces that don’t get called because they are inside the box and the referees seem to think it’s okay for such things to happen in the box. If anything the rules for the incidents inside the box should be tighter. So, this is a penalty. And for all the pushing and shoving that denies our players during set pieces, we need more such penalties to offset.
The game had a fantastic backdrop in the form of John Terry vs Anton Ferdinand racial abuse incident. There was a big aniticipation on what would happen in the handshake ritual. Will Anton and Terry shake hands or not? Will the whole QPR teams refuse to shake hands with Terry? It’s quite clear that JT’s handshake list is becoming shorter by the day. Being the captain, leader and legend, he needs to be more careful and wary of his on-pitch and off-pitch behaviour. He’s not proven guilty but being aware and careful would have saved him and the club a lot of time and effort and focus could just have been on football.
I learnt that the hand shake ritual has not been around for 100 years like I thought (remember seeing it in B/W clippings). Rick Glanville corrected me on Twitter that it’s been around only since the introduction of champions league. Some people think it’s a waste of time. I’m not one of them. I quite like the handshake ceremony. There’s an element of personal touch there. Quick eye contact, smile and a handshake is a good way to start the game.
It’s like how I want the long walk for the penalty shoot outs to remain. There’s a thought that the penalty shoot outs can happen like normal penalties with team mates standing around. But I think it shouldn’t be the case. Part of the magic of the penalty shoot out is that lonely long walk and the pressure and adrenaline that it builds. You will have arguments for and against these things but I’m firmly in favour of handshakes and long walk shoot outs.
AVB has made some important observations. He wants us to notice that we have improved defensively. I agree. Our organisation in defence has improved and it hasn’t had any impact on our attacking side. It’s just that our attacks don’t seem to have the killer instinct about them. Anyway, this is what he says:
It was a good solid display defensively. To be fair this January we have shown we have organised ourselves a little better in defence, not conceding so many goals, and it is repaying us. We look more organised and solid and when we scored we managed to hang on to the match.
Ramires has picked up an injury – extent yet to be known yet. In any case, he could be missing about four weeks which means it can get lot worse. In a way, it’s our curse I think. We send Josh on loan, we get Essien back and we see Ramires is out. We have no one to replace Ramires because what Ramires brings to our team from the midfield, there’s no one that can do well. Ramires brings us searing pace. He’s our fulcrum during our quick counterattacks. He’s so super fast that earns crucial fouls and penalties. I don’t see Essien doing that. He’s a different kind of player. As such our attacking play was slow and lumbered and only recently we had started to pick up some pace in our movements. Now that Ramires is out for a few weeks we need to ensure that we don’t become a slow team once again. Luckily, January is not over yet!
Meanwhile, in the space of a week, Liverpool have managed to eliminate the Manchester teams from the domestic cups. In the context of this season’s progress, it’s quite an achievement. This actually helps both Liverpool and Manchester. If there was any doubt, with both teams having gone out of champions league already, the Manchester teams will only be contesting for the title in May.
Spain is getting very interesting. Jose Mourinho’s Real Madrid still comes second best to Barcelona in head to head encounters but with the results this weekend, Real Madrid are 7 points clear of Barcelona with 20 games having been played in la liga. If you see how things normally work out in Spain, this is a massive lead. Rumours are back that Jose would take a job in the premier league this summer. Don’t think he would leave Madrid until he makes Real Madrid the champions of Spain. Let’s see.
Couple more days for the manic transfer deadline day. Not sure if Chelsea are still looking to get one more player in this window. Too many names have been linked to Chelsea but AVB doesn’t seem to even half-suggest that he’s still on the lookout. Rumours or not, I’d still be following the transfer deadline day news with hope – even if Chelsea says that we’re not in the market and publish a picture of the empty safe. Let’s wait and see!