Preview: United v QPR

The latest tribute to Sir Alex Ferguson’s remarkable career was unveiled at a wet Old Trafford on Friday – a nine foot high statute placed at the entrance to the renamed Sir Alex Ferguson Stand. The opening ceremony, attended by the great and good of United’s past and present, is the latest in a series of tributes to the great manager as the winter of his career approaches.

Yet, there is some sad irony in celebrations of Ferguson’s greatness, coming at the end of a week in which his side has been anything but. Defeat to Galatasaray in the Champions League may not have damaged United, but that to Norwich City, domestically, certainly did. More worrying than a pair of 1-0 losses, though, is the insipid manner in which Ferguson’s side played this week, especially at Carrow Road.

United’s defending has been anything but optimal this season, leaving the Reds in genuine trouble should Ferguson’s multi-talented attacking unit fail as it did in East Anglia. Of course, despite two defeats in a week there’s no crisis at Old Trafford – with United qualified for the knockout stages in Europe, and second by a point at home, a fourth defeat of the season on Tuesday was far from fatal.

Good job, though, that Queens Park Rangers arrive at Old Trafford this weekend, with the Premier League’s worst team now managerless after Mark Hughes’ dismissal. With the visitors in disarray it should prove to be a comfortable victory for Ferguson’s side at Old Trafford, although few will be surprised if QPR’s hapless players turned up the work-rate for the first time this season. That old cliché about it being the visitors’ Cup Final certainly holds true.

Ferguson will have an almost fully fit squad too, with half a dozen players returning to the first team after sitting out the Champions League defeat in Turkey.

“Wayne Rooney is fit,” said Ferguson. “He had tonsillitis but has been training all week, which is good. Jonny Evans will hopefully train today but I don’t know if he will be available for tomorrow. Chris Smalling had a small shoulder injury on Tuesday night.

“I wanted to play Phil Jones anyway – at least the two of them are back because I thought Jones did very well in his first game back, which is really good news. Nani is not available yet, he’s not fit yet. He’s still got a little problem with his hamstring.”

Manchester United v QPR - Premier League, Old Trafford - Saturday 24 November 2012, 3.00pmStill, the real concern is no longer with injuries, although captain Nemanja Vidić and playmaker Shinji Kagawa may well not play this side of Christmas. Jonny Evans is back in training, but will not feature.

Yet, following a brace of losses Ferguson’s primary motive is for his team to find the winning formula once again. QPR’s current state-of-play should help United, although the Hoops now have little to lose in a game that everybody expects the hosts to win comfortably.

“Obviously last week was a massive disappointment for us,” said striker Rooney, who returns to the team following a bout of tonsilitis.

“After losing that one, this QPR game couldn’t have come quickly enough. We’re looking to get back out there in the league and try and get the three points. If we can get the three points, that will take us to the top again. It might only be for 24 hours but it’s always great to be there.

“QPR last season made it difficult for us. They went down to ten men early on and got players behind the ball and made it difficult. I’m sure it will be the same this season.”

QPR owner Tony Fernandes’ decision to dismiss Hughes this week, replacing the Welshman with out-of-work Harry Redknapp, came as little surprise, with the west London outfit picking up just four Premier League points this season.

Yet, the option to retain Hughes until Friday was met with bewilderment in some quarters, leaving Redknapp no time to take the reins before kick-off. The 65-year-old may watch the game from the stands, with Mark Bowen and Eddie Niedzwiecki taking charge for the game.

Former Red Park Ji-sung is unlikely to face his former club due to a knee problem, while Bobby Zamora and Andrew Johnson are also out. Loanee Fabio is ineligible.

“If you analyse things a little bit more closely, it’s probably a lesson to everyone that changing a team and bringing 11 new players in to the Premier League is not easy,” Ferguson added.

“But I am surprised they’ve only got four points. I didn’t expect them to immediately set a blazing trail or be up at the top of the league or anything like that with 11 new players to bed in. But they’ve only four points and of course that creates its own headlines.”

United supporters attending Old Trafford on Saturday will hope that the media will have a different story to tell than the Reds have faced in the past week. Indeed, with Manchester City not in action until Sunday, United will return to the Premier League summit should victory be achieved in a rare Saturday 3pm kick off.

Match Details
Manchester United v QPR – Premier League, Old Trafford – Saturday 24 November 2012, 3.00pm

Possible teams
United (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Rafael, Smalling, Ferdinand, Evra; Carrick, Scholes; Valencia, Rooney, Young; van Persie. Subs from: Lindegaard, Jones, Powell, Wootton, Buttner, Cleverley, Fletcher, Anderson, Hernandez, Welbeck, Henríquez.

QPR (4-5-1): Julio Cesar; Onouha, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Traore; Hoilett, Taarabt, Granero, Diakite, Faurlin; Cisse. Subs from: Cerny, Bosingwa, Green, Wright-Phillips, Dyer, Ehmer, Magri, Mackie, Derry, Ephraim, Harriman.

Officials
Referee: L Probert
Assistants: S Beck, S Child
Fourth official: G Eltringham

Form
United: LWWWLL
QPR: LDLDLL

Head to Head
Last 10: United 9, QPR 0, Draw 1
Overall: United 30, QPR 6, Draw 13

Stats

  • Rooney’s return at Old Trafford is welcome after the striker missed last week’s defeat a Norwich – the Scouser recorded the fastest average speed of any United player in the previous three games, including 4.65 mph against Aston Villa;
  • Paul Scholes may now be the wrong side of 38, but the veteran has played more successful passes per minute than any other league player this season, according to the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index, with 277 in under nine hours of pitch time;
  • Michael Carrick put in the passing performance of the season against Villa two weeks ago, completing 92 passes in the opponents half – however it was just 49 against Norwich;
  • Passing may be United’s forté this season, but dribbling certainly isn’t – the Reds have just two of the top 100 top dribblers this season in Antonio Valencia and Luis Nani;
  • The Hoops’ best hope of an upset may be Adel Taarabt, who has struck 20 shots on target this season – three more than Robin Van Persie – with the Algerian on the pitch for two thirds as many minutes as the Dutch striker;
  • Esteban Granero will be equally key to QPR’s afternoon – the former Real Madrid player covered more miles than any of his teammates for the fourth league game in a row against Southampton, with a shift of 6.43 miles;
  • If QPR is to take advantage of David De Gea’s perceived uncertainty in the air, the managerless team may have to put in a cross – Jose Bosingwa is the only QPR player to have put ten crosses into the box this season, while Everton’s Leighton Baines has chalked up 60;
  • Unsurprisingly Ji Sung Park has topped the charts for distance run in four of his eight games so far this season, covering a total of 46.06 miles.

Prediction
3-0

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Comments

  1. Sidsidney says

    Redknapp pretended he wanted the Ukraine job to hurry up QPR deal. He won’t even know Ukraine is a country FFS. The man’s a cretin.

  2. bman says

    That line-up looks about right, only I think Cleverly with pair with Carrick, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Welbeck or Hernandez started instead of Young.

  3. Minus The Bear says

    This is a game where it should be 4+ goals. City beat Villa rather fortunately 5-0 last weekend and United need a) a boost for goal difference, b) to end a run of 2 defeats, c) a timely reminder that we haven’t forgotten about QPR stopping playing in injury time at the Etihad because they were safe.

  4. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    the usual uninspiring carrick and scholes 2-0 turgid shite relying on the ref giving us a pen to score the first goal

  5. banforth says

    that midfield challenges carrick / giggs for dynamism. Does ferguson understand the difference between arthritic and athletic?

  6. Minus The Bear says

    Lindegaard, Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra, Fletcher, Scholes, Young, Rooney, Welbeck, RvP
    De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Anderson, Cleverley, Powell, Chicharito
    I think the subs might achieve a better result as 7 v QPR’s 11

  7. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    theres no point watching it, i dont want to watch scholes play 100 slow paced obvious passes out to the right

    the only good bit will be rooney or persie bailing us out with a brace

  8. Minus The Bear says

    Usual insipid dross, QPR are very deep but United still insisting on trying to pass through the eye of a needle, or switch it out to Young, who then cuts inside and loses it.

    Scholes and Fletcher haven’t been terrible but still concerns over one pass between them and they are absolutely fucked. Scholes wants that yellow so he can get suspended and have a game off.

  9. Minus The Bear says

    It’s not really a surprise. QPR are a mixture of Warnock’s promoted side, then the new money and Hughes’ usual clusterfuck of signings.

    Fresh start and a clean slate for everyone. Harry always has players he likes and usual sticks by them. Plus he doesn’t have Levy getting a profit from shot players so anyone he doesn’t want will be off.

  10. Sidsidney says

    Dire lack of flair and creativity

    We’ve got Scholes and Fletcher up against 3/5 in QPRs midfield

    And 442 without proper wingers is shit. There’s a lack of balance because Welbeck and Young are turning up all over the place.

  11. marlon says

    We need Rooney to drop deeper. We need him to create instead of shooting. Good to see Valencia dropped, but we need to get Young off for Cleverley. Fergie obviously has something against Anderson – think he’ll go the same way as Nani in the summer.

  12. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    when scholes and or giggs play we play shite

    we young plays we offer nothing from wide

    when lindegaard plays we lose

    when fletcher plays he leaves skidmarks all over the pitch

  13. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    when scholes and or giggs play we play shite

    we young plays we offer nothing from wide

    when lindegaard plays we lose

    when fletcher plays he leaves skidmarks all over the pitch

  14. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    is he ever going to notice why these comebacks keep happening, and who it is that are consistently being brought off to enable the comeback to happen

  15. RobDiabloRobDiablo says

    Surely, Sir Alex must finally see that Giggs and Scholes belong at Carrington helping to bring the youngsters along, not on the pitch blocking their advancement.

  16. AnantaxAnantax says

    A scare there. Credit to Anderson and Chicharito for changing the game. Fletcher was awful when paired with Scholes. Young and Wellbeck waste of space today….though tbf to Wellbeck he provided to assist to the equalizer…

  17. Violent Banana says

    Credit Wayne Rooney. The man is shunted to any position where we have a glaring deficiency, and he usually delivers the goods.

  18. Sidsidney says

    This squad is like a despots plaything
    Fergie has too many players to pick from; old players, young players, squad players – and he parachutes them into the 11 out of the blue and expects them to hit the ground running
    It’s because Fergie is so powerful. He can rotate as much as he wants and there will be no comeback. And fair play, we have to trust him because he knows best. But criticism has to get back to him regarding these crazy 11s, players out position, shit midfields etc. otherwise nothing will change.
    He admitted last season that he got it wrong in Europe. Now we need him to admit he’s getting it wrong in the league while there is a title still to fight for.

  19. marlon says

    Valencia has been playing with a hip injury. Hopefully that explains his form.

    Fergie praised Anderson too. Hopefully he gets a start against West Ham. I’m a bit worried about resting Rio for that game though. Evans has been great, but I think he (and Jones/Smalling) need the experience alongside them still.

  20. Bill says

    Another come from behind win everyone will point out! Who cares QPR are shite and we’ve made hard work of it again. Who knows what formation we are playing these days. TBH we might as well go back to 4-4-1-1 – at least its something the players are familiar with.
    Start Carrick and Cleverley, Valencia and Kagawa wide which is a waste but, Nani goes AWOL half the time and Young isn’t good enough. Rooney in the hole, RVP up top. Hernandez, Scholes, Nani, Anderson and Welbeck to be impact subs. Powell, Buttner, Fletcher, Giggs and Young to cover in case of injures. No point picking a first choice back 4 with our injury record, Rafael and Evra on flanks, whichever 2 of Evans, Vidic, Jones, Ferdinand and Smalling is fit in the middle.
    De Gea and Lindegaard is a coin toss but I’d prob go with De Gea because whoever is in sticks is going to be busy and De Gea is the better shot stopper.

  21. Will says

    If we could only see Fletcher return to his previous best, although I fear this is unlikely, he could partner Kagawa in the middle (or indeed Anderson). Think we will make hard work of it against West Ham though. We’re vulnerable on the counter attack at the moment since Fergie seems to hell bent on goal difference. There seem to be so many solutions, all of them wrong. Still we’re top of the league!

  22. Ichiro says

    Van Persie may be getting a lot of plaudits for his start to the season, but Hernandez is clearly the in-form striker at the moment. I hope he doesnt get stuck with this supersub role. He and Anderson deserve a start in the league.

    Nick Powell should get some more games too, he already looks comfortable which is amazing considering where he was playing last season.

  23. AnantaxAnantax says

    Ichiro said:
    Van Persie may be getting a lot of plaudits for his start to the season, but Hernandez is clearly the in-form striker at the moment. I hope he doesnt get stuck with this supersub role. He and Anderson deserve a start in the league.

    Nick Powell should get some more games too, he already looks comfortable which is amazing considering where he was playing last season.

    Dont get me wrong, I love and root for Hrnandz. But last time he started (Norwich) he was a non factor.

    Agree on Powell.hes looking good.

  24. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    nani should be undroppable when hes fit

    the argument for playing carrick is becoming redundant except when we’re using 433, the defence doesnt look any more protected when hes in the team to when hes not, and what does he offer apart from that

    cleverley and andershite cm, nani kagawa wide, wayne off persie

    and id start giving smalling and jones games together at centre half

  25. marlon says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    the argument for playing carrick is becoming redundant

    not true
    From CL+PL:
    Player—Games—Concede 1st—Total Conceded—Scored—GD/Game
    Carrick—–11———-7——————-13—————22——–0.82–
    Cleverley—-9———-6——————–11—————14——-0.33–
    Scholes—–7———-6——————–10—————-14——-0.57–
    Anderson—4———–4——————–5—————–8——–0.75–
    Fletcher—–4———-4——————–5—————–3——-(-0.5)–
    Giggs——-3———-2——————–2—————-3——–0.33–
    Kagawa—–2———-1——————–2—————-4———1–
    Carrick our best CM, followed by Anderson. Cleverley suffers a bit having played when Carrick was at CB.
    DDG
    Raf Rio Vida Evra
    Carrick Anderson
    Nani Rooney Kagawa
    van Persie
    Nani and Kagawa make the front 4 much more flexible. All three goals yesterday were scored after Rooney had moved to the left.

    • says

      Marlon – I like Carrick, but your ‘data’ certainly doesn’t prove that Carrick is “our best CM, followed by Anderson”. It doesn’t prove anything bar there’s a weak correlation between a players appearances and GD/Game. And as any statistician will remind you correlation does not equal causality.

  26. Bill says

    Can’t believe some people would drop Valencia if we are playing two wingers. Ok he’s not been in the best of form this season but Fergie is arsing around with the formation every five minutes and the list of players who are actually playing well can be counted on one hand, probably minus the thumbs! He’s been class since he joined, and that class my friends is permanent!

  27. AnantaxAnantax says

    Bill said:
    Can’t believe some people would drop Valencia if we are playing two wingers. Ok he’s not been in the best of form this season but Fergie is arsing around with the formation every five minutes and the list of players who are actually playing well can be counted on one hand, probably minus the thumbs! He’s been class since he joined, and that class my friends is permanent!

    Agree on this and also dont understand the Nani lovers. Val has been in bad form over past 3-4 games. BuT Nani has been in bad form over the past 30-40 games.

    Would love nothing more than Nani proving me wrong, but unfortunately I just dont see it happening anytime…

  28. Bill says

    Its clear to me that Nani’s contract situation is a factor in his performances. In his early days he flattered to deceive and was a target for some criticism from the fans. Nani for City etc…then he settled down and put in some quality performances. However now we are back to the original Nani. He is like Ronaldo without the mental toughness. Nani is the type that would down tools if he wasn’t getting his own way. I would have him on the bench as an impact sub but if we sold him it might be best for all parties.

  29. marlon says

    Valencia form could be explained by a hip injury he has been carrying recently. When you pick you best team though, surely you assume good form, in which case Nani is a no-brainer.

  30. marlon says

    Ed said:
    Marlon – I like Carrick, but your ‘data’ certainly doesn’t prove that Carrick is “our best CM, followed by Anderson”. It doesn’t prove anything bar there’s a weak correlation between a players appearances and GD/Game. And as any statistician will remind you correlation does not equal causality.

    Best was the wrong word. Effective might be better. Obviously there are lots of other factors. Still, passes/tackles/interceptions etc. just tell you the style of play which is influenced as much by the manager and league than the players. A shots on target ratio might be better but goals was much easier to do.

  31. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    surely the shite we’re watching from young and valencia is putting nanis supposed shiteness into perspective

    even at his worst he doesnt hide like these two fraud, hes still able to beat his man

    and wed replace him with another midtable shitehouse whos contract happens to be running out yet we still manage to embarrassingly overpay for, baines or mclean or someone from wigan

  32. sheesh says

    At this rate we need a couple of new wingers, not just one. Get rid of Young, Nani is already on his way out.
    I’m not a fan of Valencia because he is an old fashioned one dimensional ‘push and run’ player and often fails to release the ball early messing up many of our attacks but, if it’s a question of who turns up more often out of him and Nani, Valencia is the winner. Problem is, he is massively out of form and looks really shit. Nani’s stock will go up because he’s not playing. Absence makes the heart grow finger and all that jazz.
    I really think we could be doing much better than these players though. Chelsea have better wingers than us.

  33. says

    Knobby has it spot on. No matter how out of form Nani is he will NEVER hide. He will demand for the ball, he will beat the first man. Valencia when out of form is disgusting to watch. Young is simply no use.

    Unlike Young and even Forlan who found the club too big for them, Nani does not feel United is too big for him. He is absolutely comfortable at this club and that is the first trick. As capable as Valencia seems, in the big Champions League games he seems so subdued. Lately, his crossing has been simply horrifying to watch. @Sheesh, this is not about absence, I have always rated Nani highly and I will start him in every game that he is fit for. Every. Game.

  34. sheesh says

    Calvino said:
    @Sheesh, this is not about absence, I have always rated Nani highly and I will start him in every game that he is fit for. Every. Game.

    Cal, I fully accept that, compared to Young and Valencia, Nani is the only winger who is capable of creating something out of nothing and I agree with you that he never hides. My issue is his basic decision-making and overall lack of consistency.
    I’m not surprised the manager prefers Valencia.
    Having been spoiled with someone exciting like Ronaldo, I’d much rather United had exciting wingers that can do something different than boring ‘push and run’ merchants we’re currently relying on…but look at our personnel.
    Nani can be unplayable on his best days but those days are not often enough. With Valencia, you can normally expect him to put the ball in the right areas a few times in a game even if he can also be guilty of faffing in possession much of the time. With Nani, he’s actually a liability if it’s not happening for him. He plays for himself. How many times do you see him having a pop at goal instead of giving the ball to a team-mate who is in a better position?

  35. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    uncleknobheadforfucksake said:
    surely the shite we’re watching from young and valencia is putting nanis supposed shiteness into perspective

    even at his worst he doesnt hide like these two fraud, hes still able to beat his man

    and wed replace him with another midtable shitehouse whos contract happens to be running out yet we still manage to embarrassingly overpay for, baines or mclean or someone from wigan

    It’s not Youngs fault that he’s not good enough… or Valencias fault that he’s not as good as Nani… I’m not even sure it’s Nanis fault that he can’t play to his potential…

    It’s Ferguson and the Glazers fault for trying to con the fans into believing that 3 or 4 world calss players, and a squad of mediocrity playing hit and miss football is good enough.

    Now that Ferguson has his own monument, he’ll probably reckon he’s good for another 4/5 years… and that will do the Glazers just fine.

  36. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    the glazers arent to blame for young an valencia not being good enoughto beat their man and not having the bottle to even attempt to

    taggarts to blame for wasting cash on em though, and you can throw berbatov hargreaves etc in there an all, and nani and andershite if es never gonna play em

  37. Sidsidney says

    The Glazers are to blame if they’ve not made more funds available for better players

    Young is a Fergie type player though, we’ll always have one; someone who Fergie can programme, who’ll graft, who’ll track back like a properbloodywinger. It could have been Milner, it might be McClean.

  38. squigs says

    Young isn’t a Fergie type winger. He is an inferior winger who doesn’t track back anyway. He is not the present nor is he the future.

    Nani is of little more use, people say Nani is top class on his day but neglect to mention he has had about 3 good games in 2 years and instead of pushing on he has regressed. He struggles to influence the bigger games and Fergie has long known this.

  39. marlon says

    It weird having three wingers who have all peaked. There is nothing to look forward to. I’d like a new signing, even if it means letting Nani go, just because we’ve seen what he can do – he’s an amazing player half the time, which isn’t very impressive any more. It’s the one position where the club doesn’t have a good prospect for the future.

  40. AnantaxAnantax says

    squigs said:

    Nani is of little more use, people say Nani is top class on his day but neglect to mention he has had about 3 good games in 2 years and instead of pushing on he has regressed. He struggles to influence the bigger games and Fergie has long known this.

    sheesh said:

    Nani can be unplayable on his best days but those days are not often enough. With Valencia, you can normally expect him to put the ball in the right areas a few times in a game even if he can also be guilty of faffing in possession much of the time. With Nani, he’s actually a liability if it’s not happening for him. He plays for himself. How many times do you see him having a pop at goal instead of giving the ball to a team-mate who is in a better position?

    Think these two quotes says it all bout Nani. Bags of talent, but lacking a quality end product.

  41. bman says

    If he sustains his recent level of performance for a couple of season, RVP will be out first really successful signing in years, probably since we signed Evra and Vida. Obviously some of the young lads might really work out, but Berba, Hargo, Nani, Ando, Young,Tevez — there’s a really long list of players we paid decent scratch for who didn’t ultimately improve our first 11 in an appreciable or sustained way. Carrick and Valencia are relatively successful, but they’re more like consistent 7/10 players, which is fine, every squad needs them. But for the amount of players we’ve signed in the past 5-6 seasons, we’ve seen very few who’ve established themselves as regular high quality contributors in our first 11. The spine of our team has been people brought in ages ago — Scholes, Giggs, Rooney, Rio, Evra, and Vida. Out of that bunch, only Rooney is definitely not past it, but I don’t see anyone forcefully laying claim to Scholes, Giggs, Rio, Evra, and Vida’s places.

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