Oh dear. What a pity. Never Mind. Queens Park Rangers treated the FA Cup as an unwanted chore, and were ritually humiliated by Milton Keynes Dons, a League One side with something to prove and even more to celebrate.
A damning home defeat, the inevitable consequence of a performance of staggering ineptitude and indolence, resulted in an exodus, which began ten minutes into the second half. Try telling the QPR fans that the Cup is an irrelevance when judged against Premier League survival. In the circumstances their chants of “what a load of rubbish” were remarkably mild.
A defence built around Tal Ben Haim and Anton Ferdinand, a has-been and a never-was, crumbled within four minutes, when Dons captain Dean Lewington flicked in the opening goal off Armand Traoré from a corner by Shaun Williams.
The lead was never remotely threatened, despite a late rally which resulted in consolation goals by Jay Bothroyd and Fabio. It will be an entirely different ball game when Manchester City visit Loftus Road on Tuesday evening.
Harry Redknapp has little option but to revert to the stultifying approach which has led to his new side being christened Queens Park The Bus Rangers. It won’t be pretty, and probably won’t be effective, but there are 90 million reasons for his pragmatism. The cash cow of TV income must be milked.
Redknapp’s remorse was predictably theatrical. His verdict on his team’s defending ranged from “comic” to “horrendous” through to “diabolical.” He made nine changes and admitted he had effectively left his players to their own devices in the build up. He “hadn’t spent a minute” with them in what he termed a “nightmare week.”
He sighed deeply, “That’s why I have been traipsing all over Europe. We are short. Go through that team and they have all been signed to play Premier League football.
“You know what? It answers a lot of questions. I’ve got the raving hump. Their agents tell me they should be in the team. They tell me they think I should give them a chance. Well they had their chance today. They blew it. We need to ship one or two out, and bring one or two in, over the next week. What can I do? We need to improve.”
As so often in the dog days of a transfer window, Redknapp is in International Man of Little Mystery mode. He hopes to persuade Ryan Nelsen to stay at Rangers for the next two games, before allowing him to become head coach of Toronto.
Rolando, his first choice as Nelsen’s replacement, preferred to stay with Porto. Redknapp’s contingency plan, recruiting South Korean international Yun Suk-Young from K-League side Chunnam Dragons, is unconvincing, to say the least.
The refusal of Étienne Capoue to leave Toulouse for west London added to the sense of impermanence. Even Redknapp has an air of transience. He admits to emulating Mark Hughes in trying to impress prospective new players with the potential of the owners’ long term strategy.
“The chairman and the board are backing me all the way” he insisted. “They are fighting for their lives for me.” Realistically QPR have a reputation as the softest of soft touches, which will be difficult to suppress.
The sense of incipient chaos would have felt familiar for MK Dons assistant manager Mick Harford, a survivor of assorted car crashes at QPR. He first became assistant manager, then caretaker, after John Gregory was sacked in 2007. A bizarre four-month spell ended with his replacement by Luigi De Canio, an Italian who quickly returned to richly-deserved obscurity. Then Harford spent three months nominally in charge in 2010, before tiring of the beauty contest being staged at the Harlington training ground, where a succession of wannabe managers watched from the balcony.
Milton Keynes have their own clearly defined priority, promotion from League One. Their latest play-off disappointment, against Huddersfield last May, bit deep. Their longer term potential, as a new club in a new city, was underlined by a record away following of 3,155 fans, who happily chirruped “you’re getting beat by a franchise”
The Dons are built in the image of manager Karl Robinson, technically adept and impeccably organised. Alan Smith, whose coaching ambitions are being nurtured by Robinson, provides the experience. Adam Chicksen (pictured left with Ryan Lowe), a player of real poise, with a reverence for the maintenance of possession, symbolises the future.
The second goal, a crisp finish by Lowe after Ferdinand hopelessly misjudged a long ball, gave Milton Keynes a comfortable cushion at half time. The defending which led to further goals by substitute Ryan Harley and Darren Potter deserved Redknapp’s disgust.
Robinson, though, was exultant: “You are always fearful and respectful at a Premier League club, but we deserve to savour this. A lot of players at my club deserve to play higher. This was their pedestal, to show what they can do.”
QPR (4-4-2): Green; Traore, Ferdinand, Ben Haim, Fabio; Mackie, Granero, Faurlin, Park (Zamora, 67); Bothroyd, Campbell.
MK Dons (4-4-2): Martin; Otsemobor, MacKenzie (Harley, 20), Kay, Lewington; Williams, Smith (Lines, 74), Potter, Chicksen; Bowditch (Alli, 89), Lowe.
Referee: Mike Dean
Man of the match: Chicksen (MK Dons)
Match rating: 6/10