Frank Stubbs, Fans' Diarist, February 2010
We have all been aware for some time that this four-week period would probably make or break our season. Out of the cup and with one point from six, the first week could definitely have been better!
Last Wednesday's intensely tough trip to Villa Park proved just that and although overall it was probably a fair result on the night, it was very difficult to get Cesc's fine run that struck the post and even more so Tommy's thumping of the crossbar out of the mind as we travelled home.
Not a bad point in any season but three points would have been a huge boost as we looked forward to the visit of the current League champions.
Tommy V limping off was the biggest disappointment at the time, especially as the early diagnosis looked serious. On the other hand, to hear it wasn't as bad as first feared and he had a chance of being fit in time for the weekend was probably the only plus point of our difficult week.
A game against Man Utd is always tough, in any season. This team of ours is capable of beating them on any given day, last season's corresponding fixture proves just that. Indeed our performance up at Old Trafford earlier in the season was nothing short of excellent but a lack of good fortune saw an undeserved defeat.
To beat a fellow top of the table team however, we need to be both on top of our own game and have that little bit of luck.
Unfortunately the latter didn't come into Sunday's equation, but our performance, especially as a defensive unit, was well below the kind we have become used to. Against a top team, when this happens you get beaten, it's as simple as that.
I believe we created chances at numerous stages of the game, but to lack composure to finish them off or miss the target so many times is just not us. As a result of this we were punished.
But not in a way that has you simply admiring the opposition's brilliance! Of course, a top team has players that are more likely to punish mistakes but as a defensive unit (i.e. the whole team) we conceded the goals in a manner laced with the kind of basic mistakes we simply do not usually make.
Walking back to the car, as always when confronted with a defeat I try and find positives from the day. The only thing I could come up with is how much I had enjoyed my Chinese food pre-match!
There is no doubt it was a difficult day for all of us to take but it happened, we were poor on the day and we move on with a huge amount still to play for.
That starts with a nice easy trip to Stamford Bridge!
Keep the faith; come on you mighty reds!