Giles Smith’s Thursday Thoughts

As weeks go, the past one has given little to complain about reckons columnist and Chelsea fan Giles Smith, and it is not as if he hasn’t had the opportunity to do so…


Ours is very much the era of consumer feedback, and, accordingly, underscoring that fact, the customer satisfaction survey from the FA regarding Saturday’s FA Cup semi-final against Spurs arrived by email on Tuesday. ‘Overall,’ as arguably the key question in the survey put it, ‘how would you rate your experience at the match?’

Well, I don’t know about you, but I had no complaints whatsoever about my experience of beating Spurs 4-2 in an FA Cup semi-final. Indeed, as my experiences of beating Spurs 4-2 in FA Cup semi-finals go, I would say that this one was right out there on its own. The categories in which the survey invited us to grade our experience on Saturday topped out at ‘Excellent’, but personally I would have pinned it even higher, at ‘Beyond Superlative,’ if there had been any means of doing so. That was how impressed I was by my experience at the match.

And I can confidently say, moreover, if any further survey is going to ask me about it, that I would have no hesitation in recommending the experience of beating Spurs 4-2 in an FA Cup semi-final to my friends. No hesitation whatsoever. A definite tick in the box from me there.

Aspects of the experience that I particularly enjoyed? The quality of the goals, I would have to say, and not least that Nemanja Matic shot with the smoke coming off it. It’s a good job the goal got in the way of that strike, in fact, because the ball didn’t look like it was stopping anywhere this side of Buckinghamshire. Still, let’s not allow the extraordinary nature of the shot to eclipse the equally extraordinary brilliance of the one-two between Cesc Fabregas and Eden Hazard in the build-up to it. Hazard’s run after slipping the ball to Fabregas, and Fabregas’s ability to see him go and to spin through 180 degrees and find him again, along with the room that Hazard then quickly made for himself before setting up Matic… all of these things were worth five stars and it would have been nice to have been able to pay proper tribute to them on the FA’s customer satisfaction survey, though, sadly, the questions didn’t really allow for that.

On that subject, it’s not clear how far the FA want to go down the road with this one, but maybe they could install at the Wembley exits some of those plastic response boxes, with red and green buttons on them, like you get in airports, among other places, which would enable the FA to reap the benefits of instantaneous customer feedback, as we fans leave the ground. You know the kind of thing: ‘Tell us how you enjoyed your time with us today.’ It would have been a trusty thump on the green smiley face from me on Saturday, that’s for sure.
 


To the best of my knowledge, no customer satisfaction surveys were distributed after the Southampton game on Tuesday night, but had they been, I can imagine the verdicts coming back from the respondents would have been highly positive. Indeed, I wouldn’t mind betting that customers who said they enjoyed the experience of beating Spurs 4-2 in the FA Cup semi-final would also have said they enjoyed the experience of beating Southampton 4-2 in the league.

Would I also recommend beating Southampton 4-2 to my friends? I would – although I would particularly recommend the bit where we went 3-1 up through Diego Costa, thereby taking some of the lingering anxiety out of the situation.

Other things that customers will have especially enjoyed: yet another gifted performance from N’Golo Kante, the newly crowned PFA Player of the Year, who so nearly delivered the assist of the season after running at bewildering pace through three-quarters of the Southampton defence, and through two-fifths of it twice; the succession of quick passes that led to the second of Diego Costa’s reassuring pair of goals; and the appearance as a late substitute of John Terry. (The word is he’s leaving at the end of the season, but I find myself in a state of denial about that, on the basis that it’s frankly unthinkable and therefore I’d rather not think about it until it actually happens, if that’s all right with everyone else.)

Lots of reasons, then, to rate Tuesday night’s experience highly on value for money and in all other key consumer areas. In fact, who would have found anything to complain about? Only the kind of misery who goes on TripAdvisor to moan because one of the towels was fractionally misaligned on the rack in his hotel bathroom.
 

Like me, I’m sure, you’ll have felt that there was only one match worth thinking about last night and will have been watching developments very keenly. So congratulations to the youth team, irrepressible and wonderfully fluid 5-1 victors over Manchester City, 6-2 winners on aggregate, clinchers of the team’s fourth FA Cup win in a row, and its fifth in six years - a stunning set of numbers for which no customer satisfaction survey is necessary.

Apparently Spurs’ first team also had a game yesterday, against someone or other. But, of course, it’s the great luxury and privilege of our position, as things stand, that we currently don’t need to pay any attention to what Spurs’ first team do at all. Spurs can win, draw, lose or become the first English football team to split the atom, and, as long as our own results are in order, it can remain a matter of complete indifference to us.

Obviously, that situation shifts slightly in the event that we drop four points. If that happens (and certainly not until then), we’re probably be obliged to cast a look across the way and find out how Spurs are getting along. But there’s one very clear and simple solution to that: not to drop four points. Here’s hoping.