A west London Christmas

Christmas came early for Manchester United fans this year as Santa rocked up in west London bearing gifts.

First stop was Loftus Road, followed by a trip to Craven Cottage, where visiting supporters who’d opted to make a long weekend of it were rewarded with six points, seven goals and a succession of missed chances. (Before making the long journey back to Surrey – ho ho ho.)

I was at the QPR game, armed with hope, memories of Dennis Bailey and a six-year-old daughter who’d never seen us lose.

It took precisely 52 seconds for Wayne Rooney to shatter the dream.

The striker’s face lit up like the pound signs in the eyes of his hair surgeon as he shrugged off the attention of five Rangers players to squeeze his header in.

“Carrick…was afforded the sort of space you’d give to Nick Clegg if you saw him walking towards you down the street.”

More importantly, the early blow from Rooney – who bossed the game from start to finish – killed the atmosphere, with tired refrains of “You let your country down” the best a listless crowd could muster.

Indeed the chant of the night belonged to the United fans, who gleefully sang “Warnock for England!” as the manager scratched his head looking for answers.

In the event they were nearly provided by forgotten man Adel Taarabt, who showed more class in his brief cameo appearance than the rest of his team-mates put together.

The unfathomable Moroccan is either desperate to show QPR what they’ve been missing – or what they will be missing when he hot-foots it off to France in January.

When Taarabt’s glorious cross left his fellow sub with an open goal, I had visions of a glorious comeback and the opportunity for the PA man to dust down his copy of Last Night A DJ Saved My Life.

In the event, Dudley Junior Campbell fluffed his lines and it was Michael Carrick who had the final say.

Can Taarabt light up QPR’s festive period?

QPR have long been renowned for giving a leg-up to players and teams on a bad run and Carrick, who’d gone two years without a goal, was afforded the sort of space you’d give to Nick Clegg if you saw him walking towards you down the street, as he strolled through unopposed to pick his spot.

Three days later, Sunderland were in town to help themselves to Rangers’ all-you-can-eat buffet, with Taarabt again not introduced until his side were two down.

Two goals in as many minutes seemed to have turned the game on its head until Wes Brown (Wes Brown!) stole in to give Sunderland a 3-2 win, leaving Rangers with one point from 15 and (to quote the name of a Loftus Road ‘legend’) in deep Doudou.

Meanwhile, Fulham rolled out the welcome mat for Brown’s former employers in a game which will doubtless be dubbed “5-0 – even Berba scored.”

The rarely-seen Bulgarian found the net with the cheekiest of backheels before celebrating with all the gusto of a man trying to remember where he’s parked his car.

It left some Fulham fans muttering about whether Martin Jol was such a good appointment after all, with ‘Clydebank’ on the Cottage Corner messageboard getting into the festive spirit by crooning: “We’re beginning to look a lot like Brentford.”

Don’t mock – you could be playing them next season.

Meanwhile, ‘Gandalf’ on the same board conceded: “Title chances over. City and United too far adrift.” Tsk tsk, such negativity.

Next up for the Whites is a Boxing Day trip to Stamford Bridge, where there won’t be any songs sung about John Terry. Much.

The Chelsea skipper, who has a date with the beak in February, cast aside his off-field concerns to save his side’s bacon against Tottenham with a last-ditch clearance to secure a 1-1 draw – a few days after Petr Cech had earned Wigan a similar result.

Bees boss Rosler could have plenty to smile about in 2012.

And so to Brentford, who are clinging on to the final play-off spot in League One despite conceding a late equaliser to 10-man Bury at Gigg Lane.

At least they were entering into the Christmas spirit on the Griffin Park Grapevine forum, with ‘Boscombe Bee’ declaring: “Looking forward to those bits if sausage wrapped in bacon. Whoever invented those is right up there with Edison!”

‘Brickie chap’ was not so sure, announcing: “I’ll be ignoring anyone sporting any daft Santa crap. I may say something nice to a select few on Christmas Day itself…but that’s not certain.”

And there was also a miserable pantomime experience. The conversation went like this:

‘Markybee’: “Went to Windsor Theatre on Saturday night to see Sleeping Beauty. The jokes were so bad it wasn’t true.”

‘GP200’: “Oh no they weren’t.”

‘Marybee’: “Oh yes they were.”

Back on Cottage Corner, ‘Royce Traner’ had some interesting advice which will have those of you who are underage asking ‘where can I get a fake ID?’. Here is his take on how to cook a turkey:

“First, buy the turkey and a bottle of vodka. Pour yourself a glass of vodka and put the turkey in the oven. Take another two drinks of vodka and set the degree at 375 ovens.

“Have three more vodkas of drink and turn the oven on. Do four more and turk the bastey. Stick a turkey in the thermometer, and glass yourself. Bake the vodka for four hours, take the oven out of the turkey, and floor the turkey up off the pick. Pour yourself another glass of turkey. Now just tet the sable, and turk the carvey.”

Couldn’t have put it better myself.

And finally, the feelgood Christmas story of the year involved rumours of Man City striker Mario Balotelli driving around Manchester dressed in a blue Santa’s outfit handing out money.

No-one could confirm it but the fact nobody thought it was unlikely to have happened confirmed what we already knew – the bloke is a proper star.

Have a good Christmas and see you on the other side.

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