• Premier League

Hughes unhappy with pre-match handshakes

ESPN staff
September 15, 2012
John Terry and Anton Ferdinand are set to come face-to-face © PA Photos

Mark Hughes has suggested pre-match handshakes should be abandoned ahead of QPR's clash with Chelsea, describing the ritual as "fundamentally flawed".

Hughes' comments came on the eve of Saturday's London derby, where Anton Ferdinand will have his first meeting with John Terry since the Blues skipper's racism trial in July. Terry was found not guilty of racially abusing Ferdinand last October, but remains the subject of a Football Association investigation over charges that he denies.

Widespread reports in the English press claim Ferdinand will reject a handshake from Terry, and Hughes believes the formalities should therefore be left for after the match.

"The handshake is part of the Respect campaign and we all fully support that. It's done fantastic work and is to be commended," Hughes said.

"But maybe this part of showing respect is fundamentally flawed. Should there be a discussion in terms of how we show respect? Is this the best way to do that?

"It's open to debate and that's why I was asking about it at the Premier League meeting. Maybe after the match would be better. For our FA Cup match with Chelsea in January we didn't do it and that helped the situation.

"I've never considered leaving Anton out because of the handshake. I'm picking people on their ability and I don't sense it's affecting him. If I thought for one moment he was struggling to deal with it, I'd make that decision."

QPR will attempt to claim their first Premier League victory of the season in what is expected to be a hostile atmosphere. The former striker admits he thrived on derby day and is expecting his charges to do likewise against Chelsea.

"I loved derbies. I played in quite a few - the Liverpool one, Manchester one, Real Madrid v Barcelona, Blackburn v Burnley... which was probably the scariest one!" he said.

"Some derbies are more high profile. The Blackburn derby I wasn't really aware of until I went there. Then realised I'd been missing out on something. Every one is different but the passion and energy generated are the same and that's something special.

"As long as it doesn't go over the edge of acceptability, I'm all for it. I enjoyed the emotion of the fans and really used to look forward to derbies. They felt like a part of me.

"Off the field I was quite quiet and introverted but on the field I was a different person and that had a lot to do with my interaction with my supporters and the opposition supporters. I used to love helping my team win against fans who didn't particularly want me to win, that was part of my make up.

"The abuse probably made me play better. You knew that if you were getting abuse, you were irritating the fans. That was part of what I used to enjoy and laugh at."

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