Man United 3 QPR 1: Lessons as Red Devils win in unconvincing style
Man United 3 QPR 1: What lessons did we learn as the Red Devils cancel out Jamie Mackie's goal to win at Old Trafford?
United exploit QPR’s set-piece weakness
While Sir Alex Ferguson’s side enjoyed the lion’s share of possession in the opening 60 minutes, Darren Fletcher and Paul Scholes failed to provide Manchester United with any cutting edge. The home side were sloppy, particularly Scholes and Ashley Young, and Jamie Mackie’s 52nd-minute goal came as no surprise, with Queens Park Rangers showing plenty of fighting spirit despite Mark Hughes’ sacking. The ex-Hoops boss dismissed accusations his side don’t practice defending set-pieces in training in his last media conference, but it was two corners which proved QPR’s undoing at Old Trafford. In the 64th minute, Wayne Rooney’s corner was headed back across Julio Cesar’s goal by Danny Welbeck, with Jonny Evans bundling the ball into the net. Just four minutes later, another set-piece resulted in another goal from another Rooney delivery as Darren Fletcher powered a header past Cesar. United’s revival, which was aided by introduction of Anderson, was complete when the Brazilian meandered his way through a tiring QPR rearguard to tee up Javier Hernández, who clinically finished into the corner.
The Hoops’ Old Guard impress
With Hughes sacked on Friday, Harry Redknapp watched on at Old Trafford as his new players produced a resilient performance which should offer hope to the new QPR boss that he can mastermind yet another Great Escape. The Hoops called on their old guard for the clash against the 19-time English champions, with Shaun Derry, Clint Hill and Mackie – all members of the squad which got the club promoted to the top flight – returning to the starting line-up. And the trio, along with Cesar and Stephane Mbia, were the standout performance for the visitors in the first half. Derry was winning aerial duals and tackles in midfield, while playing it simple in possession, and Clint Hill, whose defensive style may be rugged at times, made five vital clearances in the first half. With United struggling, QPR took a deserved lead when Mackie finished from close-range after Adel Taarabt and Kieron Dyer took a short corner. However, Redknapp’s new side capitulated in a 15-minute spell after a tireless performance in the opening 60 minutes took its toll, with goals from Evans, Fletcher and Hernández securing three points for the Red Devils.
QPR need to get Cisse firing again
QPR held their own for almost two-thirds of the Old Trafford encounter, and in fact, the visitors posed the greater threat in an encouraging opening spell. With United easing into their passing rhythm, Derry and Alejando Faurlin broke up a number of moves and released either Mackie or Djibril Cisse on the break. However, the French striker was guilty of cheaply conceding possession in good positions and poor decision-making around Anders Lindegaard’s area, with his Scottish strike partner making good runs off the ball. While some of QPR’s big-names have been criticised this term, mainly Jose Bosingwa and Esteban Granero (both were dropped for the trip to United), Cisse has delivered for the Hoops since arriving from Lazio in January. The former Liverpool man scored six crucial goals as he fired QPR to Premier League survival last term. However, this season, Bobby Zamora has often been preferred to Cisse, who started just two of their opening eight games. The 31-year-old has returned for the last three games but he is still showing signs of rustiness, despite his goal against Reading. If Redknapp is to lead QPR to safety, he needs to get the flamboyant forward firing again.
Young struggles on the United wing
Young was the main talking point of United’s 2-0 victory over QPR at Old Trafford last April, but for all the wrong reasons. The England international’s dive resulted in Derry’s red card and Wayne Rooney’s subsequent goal from the penalty spot inside 15 minutes. With Nani and Antonio Valencia both missing, there was an extra emphasis on Young to provide much-needed width for the home side, but the former Aston Villa struggled to make any impact from the left wing. When the 26-year-old did show adventure and attempted to take on Armand Traore, the former Arsenal left-back halted the midfielder with ease. With Young becoming increasingly frustrated, he took an optimistic tumble in the QPR penalty area after minimal contact from Hill just before half-time. Referee Lee Probert signalled no foul and Young was confronted by a livid Derry and Hill. The winger eventually made way in the 59th-minute following Jamie Mackie’s goal with his replacement, Anderson, inspiring a United comeback.