Harry Redknapp has not always enjoyed the festive season, regularly cancelling Christmas for underachieving players, and he was distinctly low on seasonal cheer yesterday after two decisions by officials consigned his team to a second successive defeat.
West Bromwich Albion’s second goal would have been disallowed by most referees – but not Chris Foy – while Liam Ridgewell appeared to handle a header by Stephane Mbia as Rangers chased a late equaliser.
“Awful decisions,” Redknapp said. “I said to the linesman: ‘How did you not see the penalty?’ He said ‘It was murky down in that corner and I couldn’t see it.’ Maybe he should go to Specsavers. The second goal was a blatant foul. I hate hearing managers moan about decisions, but that was poor. Two vital decisions that were so important to us.”
True, although as Steve Clarke, the West Brom manager, pointed out, his team might have been four up before Rangers scored, and successive victories suggest that Albion’s previous four matches without a win represented a blip rather than the beginning of a slide. “We were in complete control and played some fantastic football,” Clarke said. “We ended up hanging on but we showed another side to our character.”
One bright spot for Redknapp was the news that Adel Taarabt will not miss matches during the African Cup of Nations after missing out on selection for Morocco, but his team were slow out of the blocks after kick-off was delayed for 15 minutes when the Albion team coach was caught in the heavy traffic around the Westfield shopping centre. The visitors lost no time taking control and went ahead through Chris Brunt’s unchallenged shot from 30 yards.
Four minutes after the break, Marc-Antoine Fortune backed into QPR’s goalkeeper Robert Green, who fumbled the ball into his own net. “I couldn’t see how he [Foy] could give a goal,” Redknapp said. “How can a keeper play the ball when someone is backing him over the line? That’s obstruction. How can it stand?”
Green then pulled off two saves from Romelu Lukaku, and the home side took inspiration from their escape to pull a goal back through Djibril Cisse, but their late cavalry charge was in vain. “I can’t fault the effort,” Redknapp said. “A bad day for us, bad result, bang in trouble, stuck at the bottom – but it ain’t over yet, that’s for sure.”