Reds prepared to leave it late for eight

Manchester United will move eight points clear of the pack with victory over Mark Hughes’ Queens Park Rangers this weekend. That United plays ahead of Manchester City – Roberto Mancini’s men facing in-form Arsenal at the Emirates at 4pm Sunday – is a quirk of the fixture list that will pile the pressure on the Italian’s men should United secure victory first. Just the incentive required to eliminate any hint of complacency with seven games remaining.

Hughes’ visitors, who have beaten both Arsenal and Liverpool in recent weeks, remain in a relegation dog-fight as one of five sides that could still go down. It should ensure a competitive fixture at Old Trafford, with little love lost between Hughes and his former mentor, Sir Alex Ferguson.

Just as United demonstrated ample patience in victory over Blackburn Rovers on Monday night, Ferguson’s men will leave it late, if necessary, to secure three points at Old Trafford on Sunday. Indeed, says the United manager, the home side will draw on history should QPR prove to as stubborn as Blackburn.

Despite a growing sense of anticipation at Old Trafford, patience remains the watchword, with United closing in domestic title number 20.

“The game against QPR will be another like we experienced on Monday against a team fighting for their survival,” said Ferguson on Friday.

“They’re never easy – it wasn’t easy on Monday, but we managed to get a fantastic result with late goals. I don’t mind if we have to wait until the last 10 minutes again to win on Sunday. Over the years we have had these moments when we have scored late goals. Look back to 1993 and Sheffield Wednesday, two goals in the last nine minutes of injury-time. It is part of our history. We don’t give in. We are capable of scoring late goals. It is not an accident. There is a thread relating to the history of the club that way for many years now.

“This season you could point to the recovery at Chelsea, or you could point to Norwich or Monday night. With nine minutes to go it was still 0-0, but the players didn’t give in. They kept their intensity and concentration really well. That was the plus point on Monday. The intensity of our game was brilliant and our concentration was great.”

Manchester United versus Queens Park Rangers, Premier League, Old Trafford, 8 April 2012, 2pmUnited’s increasing authority since Paul Scholes’ return in January is a marked feature of this season’s run-in, with the 37-year-old midfielder once again establishing the Reds as the best passing side in the country. It is just one of many relevant data points, perhaps, but United’s pass completion rate ranks highest of all Premier League teams since January. It was sixth best before Scholes’ return to Old Trafford.

Yet, while Scholes has been outstanding alongside Michael Carrick in the heart of United’s midfield over the past four months, as the Reds have passed their way to 10 victories in the past 11 domestic league fixtures, Ferguson knows that only points mean prizes at this stage of the season.

United dominated possession against Blackburn, only for two moments of inspiration from Antonio Valencia and Ashley Young to win United the game and secure a five point Premier League lead.

“You have to grind results out and keep going and hope the team in front of you make mistakes or lose points,” added the 70-year-old Scot.

“You drop points in this league. It’s a fact. We all drop points. No-one goes through a season without dropping points. It is about when you drop them and, on the run-in, your aim is not to drop as many as your immediate opponents, which we haven’t done. We are in a good spell and are getting players back so there is some freshness in the team at the moment. Hopefully we can keep it going.”

Ferguson welcomes Nani back into the United fold, with the Portuguese winger finally recovering from an ankle problem that has kept the former Sporting player on the sidelines for five matches. Meanwhile, Ferguson can report a full bill of health in defence, with both Phil Jones and Chris Smalling challenging for a position in United’s back four against QPR. Indeed, only long-term injury concerns Anderson, Nemanja Vidić, Darren Fletcher and Michael Owen are likely to miss out on Sunday’s fixture.

However, United’s manager is unlikely make many changes from the side that beat Blackburn at Ewood, with winger Young likely to come into the side for Phil Jones, who failed to impress in central midfield against his former employers. The lob-sided nature of United’s shape at Ewood eventually gave way to a more balanced, penetrative, attack as Ferguson used his full complement of substitutes.

If the formation at Ewood smacked of caution then Ferguson is likely to preach attack against QPR, even if the United manager is aware of the opposition’s desperation to secure a result at Old Trafford. Hughes’ side lies 17th in the Premier League, ahead of the relegation zone on goal difference alone.

“They are all wakening up I suppose,” added Ferguson of the relegation battle.

“No-one would have bet on QPR beating Liverpool and Arsenal two weeks in a row and Wigan have had hit a bit of form too. The statistics for teams at the bottom picking up points are not good. What we had last weekend which was exceptional. All of a sudden Blackburn are right back into it and Villa are not out of it either.”

Meanwhile, Rangers’ manager Hughes welcomes back strikers Heidar Helguson and DJ Campbell from injury after the pair played in a friendly with West Ham United on Wednesday. The strike pair will have to settle for a place on the bench. However, former City players Joey Barton and Nedum Onuoha will start at Old Trafford, although neither player’s  form has justified the reported £60-80,000 per week in wages.

Former United player Hughes has enjoyed an oft feisty relationship with Ferguson since turning his hand to management, first with first Wales and then Blackburn, City and then Fulham. But Hughes, who played 467 games, scoring 163 goals, in two spells with United, concedes that the title is likely to be heading to Old Trafford this season, whatever the result on Sunday.

“I think at this stage of the season there is a little bit of a sense of inevitability,” admitted the 48-year-old manager.

“United have been in this situation so many times before, Manchester City haven’t and I think that can be key in this situation. You sense that United are looking at fixtures, taking each game on its merits and just ticking off games they have to play from now until the end of the season. You sense United are in the box-seat and you would be very surprised if they lost it from the position they find themselves in now.”

And history is on United’s side, not only in the title race, but in this fixture. Sunday’s match will be the 10th Premier League meeting between the two clubs, with the visitors having failed to win any of the previous nine encounters. Ferguson will fully understand this is no time to change that sequence of results.

Match details
Manchester United versus Queens Park Rangers, Premier League, Old Trafford, 8 April 2012, 2pm.

Potential Line-ups
United (4-4-1-1): de Gea; Rafael, Ferdinand, Evans, Evra; Valencia, Scholes, Carrick, Young; Rooney; Hernández. Subs from: Amos, Fabio, Smalling, Jones, Giggs, Park, Cleverley, Nani, Pogba, Welbeck, Berbatov.

QPR (4-5-1): Kenny; Hill, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Taiwo; Mackie, Diakite, Derry, Barton Taarabt; Zamora. Subs from: Cerny, Gabbidon, Young, Buzsaky, Wright-Phillips, Campbell, Bothroyd, Helguson.

Match Stats

  • United scored two late goals courtesy of Valencia and Young to beat Blackburn on Monday night. Young, who has made nine assists this season, claimed his fifth goal of the season;
  • Young is fifth in the EA SPORTS Player Performance Index for shooting accuracy, discounting players who have had fewer than twenty shots at goal, getting 74 per cent of his 43 shots at goal on target;
  • Valencia’s goals have come from just 14 shots, putting him in the top ten for shots per goal this season, needing just 3.5 shots for each goal;
  • United defender Rio Ferdinand is one of only two players in the EA Index to have attempted over 20 tackles without losing a single one. Rio has won 23 tackles so far this season;
  • Team-mate Phil Jones is ranked sixth in tackles won, having won 94 per cent of the 36 tackles he has attempted this season
  • Meanwhile, United’s visitors QPR secured a shock victory against Arsenal in the last round of Premier League games. Goals from Adel Taarabt and Samba Diakite gave QPR three vital points, meaning the west Londoners are level with relegation rivals Blackburn and Wigan Athletic;
  • Taarabt’s goal was his first of the season, despite being 16th overall in the Index for shots at goal, with 65 shots in total and 65 per cent on target;
  • QPR midfielder Akos Buzsacky has made 27 shots at goal this season, one every 23 and a half minutes while on the pitch – nobody shoots more frequently in the Premier League.

Form
United: LWLWWW
QPR: LDLWLW

Officials
Referee: Lee Mason (Bolton)
Assistants: A Garratt, D C Richards
Fourth Official: K Friend

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Comments

    • says

      Alf – Scholes 2011/2012 (Premier League only)

      Total Matches Started: 8
      Total Substitute Appearances:3
      Total Minutes Played: 695
      637/693 passes (91.9%)
      10 chances created
      22 tackles
      14 interceptions
      5 shots

  1. bman says

    Is Cleverly fit again? I didn’t think Jones was that bad in midfield in the last match, but he’s a poor substitute for Cleverly as a ball carrier. Taarabt will need close watching by whoever our right back is, I could see him making the difference between relegation and survival for them, I’ve a feeling he’s really going to light things up for them the way Tevez did for West Ham right before we bought him.

  2. bman says

    I think it’s just a difference in semantics, my point is that he’s not a pure passer in the Carrick or (these days) Scholes mould, nor a runabouty Fletcher type. I think he carries the ball well, and is also a good passer. He’s got a good brain and understands that in the middle of the pitch you can’t afford to talk defenders on as readily as wingers can, so he opts for the pass when that’s the best way to move the ball forward, but isn’t reluctant to run with it either. Basically I think he looked like he would add a lot to our midfield at the beginning of the season, giving us genuinely forward momentum and good ball retention qualities. I don’t think he’s a pure attacking/creative midfielder though.
    As for his quality, I think the signs are good that he’s a least decent or even very decent, and ought to be a useful member of the squad. It’s a shame he’s really been held back since the beginning of the season. I’d like to see him given a decent run of games partnered with Carrick or with someone like Javi Martinez, who we really should pick up as a younger, better, and bollocksier version of Carrick. Even if he doesn’t prove to be top class, I think Cleverly looks like the kind of player that we could be genuinely happy to have in the squad.

  3. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Cleverly hasn’t played enough… we need to stick with what’s working, not start fuckin about with questionable team selections and weird formations.

    I wouldn’t even use Nani unless a game is well won. Valencia and Young all the way.

  4. Sidsidney says

    Cleverley isn’t going to get a sniff while there’s a title on the line. He’ not even making the bench. Fergie is going with the senior pros.

  5. bman says

    I wouldn’t mind seeing us go with the formation we used against B’burn, only with Young on the left, Rooney up top alone, and Cleverly in behind him where Jones was. Alternatively, Nani on the left and Young in the middle behind Rooney, where he’s done well for Villa and England in the past. Young’s a legitimate goal threat, and more of a goal threat than Hernandez or Welbeck these days, since he’s also happy to have a go from some distance.

  6. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    tbf he does look a good player, don’t really seem to have any outstanding parts to his game tho, and clearly overhyped because the only young mids we’ve got at the club of note are him and quinton fortunes down syndrome brazilian shitehouse sister

  7. han says

    please don’t have hernandez as a starter
    he is not able to carry the same threat as when he comes off the bench
    i doubt it, but this is a game for bulgaria to start – still, here’s wishing…

  8. han says

    qpr may be shite and destined for the drop but they will scrap for the ball
    and hughes is unlikely to want to concede anything today
    need to be flying from the off and not pussy foot around

  9. sheesh says

    Both hernandez and welbeck have been shite of late so whichever of them starts needs to pull their finger out. We should win this one comfortably. Wigan away will be tough and that’s the one I am more concerned about.

  10. DeadRevel says

    Cleverley isn’t overhyped. When every knob and his brother is using the phrase ‘overhyped’ to describe him, how the fuck can he be overhyped?

    He is a very good young player who hopefully will become a brilliant player.

  11. han says

    yes he has promise but so did fatfuck anderson
    hopefully, cleverley will learn to knuckle down
    that fatfucker needs a knuckle sandwich with that talent he has wasted over the past 4 years

    • DeadRevel says

      True. I’m slightly worried by his self image promotion too. Didn’t expect that from a chavvy kid who looks more like Rooney than Becks.

  12. says

    Hernandez is an awful footballer. Welbeck needs to be starting every game.

    We’re home to QPR. QPR are shite. I don’t see any reason why we won’t batter them today. Carrick-Scholes to start and if/when we’re well ahead get Clev, Pog and Nani on the pitch. And for fuck sake start giving Fabii some games ahead of Evra.

    6-0 United.

  13. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    Surprise surprise I’m shitting it about today’s game!! Please just score us early goals! And Arsenal do something good this season!!!

  14. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Commenter said:
    Cleverley isn’t overhyped. When every knob and his brother is using the phrase ‘overhyped’ to describe him, how the fuck can he be overhyped?

    He is a very good young player who hopefully will become a brilliant player.

    A lot of knobs and their brothers were saying Anderson was a future WPotY contender.

    Cleverly has been good… but I’m not holding my breath… and we need better than just good, to take charge of THAT position.

  15. han says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    A lot of knobs and their brothers were saying Anderson was a future WPotY contender.

    a lot of knobs, their brothers and UNCLES…

  16. han says

    its not on radio 5
    only on talk shite with stan colleycunt – i can’t stand his banal comments
    hmmm looks like its the bbc website again for me

  17. han says

    still waiting for your invitation to sit on your leather corner sofa, watching sky plus on your 90 inch plasma/lcd screen, and being fed by aunty…

  18. han says

    Commenter said:
    True. I’m slightly worried by his self image promotion too. Didn’t expect that from a chavvy kid who looks more like Rooney than Becks.

    qui basil?

  19. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    han said:
    berba not even a sub
    no surprise there then
    quelle domage

    He wont play for us again i bet.
    quelle domage bit Del Boy, Han.

  20. Sidsidney says

    Here is an interesting stat – Rooney’s penalty means that United have now scored in their last 46 Premier League fixtures, equalling a record set by Arsenal between 2001 and 2003. United last failed to score in a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in December 2009.

  21. han says

    sidney said:
    Here is an interesting stat – Rooney’s penalty means that United have now scored in their last 46 Premier League fixtures, equalling a record set by Arsenal between 2001 and 2003. United last failed to score in a 1-0 defeat to Aston Villa in December 2009.

    thats only at OT

  22. Sidsidney says

    Lol Taarabt faced with a one on one sprint with Valencia thinks ‘ah, fuck it’ and cuts inside instead

  23. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    madredmonkey said:
    do we care.

    I do… I want to win without the contentious decisions… it’s just summat for opposition fans to whinge about.

  24. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    I do… I want to win without the contentious decisions… it’s just summat for opposition fans to whinge about.

    i can see where your coming from.

  25. definitely not tommyTommy says

    couldn’t give a toss about a bad decision, as many (including Fergie) have pointed out they happen to everyone and even out over the season. By 60 minutes in this shower will tire and we’ll put em to bed. At least 3-0 here.

  26. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    Well… QPR don’t deserve to be a man down… but now that they are, we really should put at least 2 or 3 more past them… or I’d consider that a poor performance.

  27. Sidsidney says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    I do… I want to win without the contentious decisions… it’s just summat for opposition fans to whinge about.

    They’re gonna whinge regardless though, Alf

    There will always be contentious decisions over the course of a season that you can point to and say that’s the reason they won the league, or its a conspiracy etc.

    Fuck ‘em

  28. han says

    sidney said:
    They’re gonna whinge regardless though, Alf

    There will always be contentious decisions over the course of a season that you can point to and say that’s the reason they won the league, or its a conspiracy etc.

    Fuck ‘em

    aye
    didn’t you lot know that we have bought off the refs and their families, the FA are in united’s pay, SAF is really a hypnotist etc

  29. Sidsidney says

    Why doesn’t the QPR fella protest? He just takes the red card and walks off

    He gives Young a nudge, and Young is flying, so it knocks him off balance (although he made more of it), but a red is harsh – you’d think he’d complain

  30. han says

    sidney said:
    Why doesn’t the QPR fella protest? He just takes the red card and walks off

    He gives Young a nudge, and Young is flying, so it knocks him off balance (although he made more of it), but a red is harsh – you’d think he’d complain

    obviously from the corinthian school of footie
    either that or guilt complex

  31. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    sidney said:
    They’re gonna whinge regardless though, Alf

    There will always be contentious decisions over the course of a season that you can point to and say that’s the reason they won the league, or its a conspiracy etc.

    Fuck ‘em

    Totally agree Sid, but I still don’t like it.

    Did you see Mancinis latest complaint?… He needs more money, to build a bigger/better squad… like United.

    • DeadRevel says

      Honestly, when I heard that from Mancini I actually felt really angry. They are just an odious club without any sense of fair play.

      oh and fuck them about the decision today. I would rather it hadn’t have happened because I’m sure we’d be battering them 10 or 11 men.

      Hope we fucking batter them now. Just to soul fuck City and the other ABU bitters.

  32. madmaxmadmax says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Did you see Mancinis latest complaint?… He needs more money, to build a bigger/better squad… like United.

    what a clueless man

  33. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    “We lost Yaya and Kolo Toure for the African Nations Cup, had some injuries and lost Vincent Kompany, Joleon Lescott and Sergio Aguero in the last two games,” bemoaned Mancini.

    “Maybe next year if we lose two important players, we can have another two good players and we can change.

    “Up to now, we have plugged away at building a strong team, so now I think three or four more players with a strong mentality will be enough to finish it.

    “The difference is in 20 players, not the 11, and because they are used to staying on top, they play without problems.

    “We maybe need time – but we have already arrived as one of the best teams in Europe.

    “The difference with United is in their squad, not their starting eleven. Because they are used to always being at the top they can play without problems and they don’t have the pressure we have, because they have won everything.

    “When you play against a team like United, that is the difference – not the players.”

  34. Sidsidney says

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Totally agree Sid, but I still don’t like it.

    Did you see Mancinis latest complaint?… He needs more money, to build a bigger/better squad… like United.

    Lol he takes the piss. He’s been allowed to cherry pick players for the last couple of seasons, and its still not enough.

  35. DeadRevel says

    Come on Welbeck… needs to find that confidence he had early in the season. Should have been on target that one.

  36. Herbie Simms says

    Time to bring on super sub Hernandez or go out and find Berbatov. Should at least put 6 past a crap QPR!

  37. Violent Banana says

    Thought we looked more lively before the sending off; once that happened it was more like a training game

  38. han says

    didn’t really need to step out of 2nd gear
    no injuries
    another game ticked off the list and 3 points
    over to you bitters

  39. madredmonkeymadredmonkey says

    han said:
    didn’t really need to step out of 2nd gear
    no injuries
    another game ticked off the list and 3 points
    over to you bitters

  40. DeadRevel says

    To be fair I thought that was a pretty good performance. Completely dominated from start to finish, they didn’t have a decent chance for 90 minutes. We looked even better before the sending off… must be a conspiracy to make us play worse.

    Cleverley looked sharp when he came on. Carrick and Evans great again.

  41. sheesh says

    Turned on talkshite on way home and they were discussing ashley young’s dive. I must admit, that was poor form from him and we shouldn’t be resorting to such poor behaviour. We should be better than that. Harsh on QPR to lose a player when one of our own has cheated.

    Now when young is genuinely fouled, ref will decide against him if it is deemed to be a 50-50. What is the point?

  42. DeadRevel says

    Talkscum are desperate for any chance to moan. I wonder if Stan Collybollocks will suggest Balotelli deserves a game ban for that violent assault? Doubt it.

    • DeadRevel says

      Agreed. Though it was noticeable when Cleverley came on that penetration through the centre is exactly what he was trying to create. Lot of possession around the box, not enough through balls or little dinks.

  43. SpudiatorSpudiator says

    I fucking hate TalkSport! Stan Collymore’s voice is so irritatingly dreary, and the entire match they obsessively went on about the penalty incident as if there was literally nothing else to merit mentioning for the entire first half! I haven’t actually seen the incident yet, so I can’t comment, but they really were starting to sound like a broken record!

  44. uncleknobheadffsuncleknobheadforfucksake says

    well he’s right to go on about it when its three shite decisions in one and ended the game after 15 mins

    • DeadRevel says

      He isn’t right to say players should be banned for 6 games for diving. He’s a shite pundit. And I’m not one of those people who rips into every pundit.

      The point is that they only get all moral about football when it involves Untied. If it had been QPR V Swansea, no-one would be talking about it.

  45. sheesh says

    Spudiator said:
    I fucking hate TalkSport! Stan Collymore’s voice is so irritatingly dreary, and the entire match they obsessively went on about the penalty incident as if there was literally nothing else to merit mentioning for the entire first half! I haven’t actually seen the incident yet, so I can’t comment, but they really were starting to sound like a broken record!

    To be fair to QPR and, with regard to their league situation, it’s these sorts of decisions that can cost you big time. Forget about today’s result, they’ve lost one of their key players for their next match.
    We probably would have won the game anyway, but that’s besides the point.

  46. Denton Davey says

    uncleknobheadforfuckssake @ 4:43: “we need more xfactor, too much just getting it wide and ploughing it in”

    That’s why Nani needs to start WHENEVER he’s healthy.

    • DeadRevel says

      To replace who? Valencia? I’d happily give him a place on the left wing but Young is more effective and consistent there. If only Nani or Valencia were left sided wingers…

      Unless he can play in midfield?

  47. says

    Disgraceful decision only topped by 75mins of wishy washy teenage school girl tampax excuse for epl champions.

    Hopefully fa use this as an excuse to sort out officials and diving.

  48. Gabagool says

    Imagine how good we’d be if we had a decent striker?
    Welbeck still very much a work in progress, and wasteful.
    Hernandez overrated and purely a super sub.
    Berba

  49. Gabagool says

    Berbatov unfortunately out of favour and just doesn’t fit our style.
    Owen a sick note.
    One top midfielder and one top striker this summer please Fergie.

  50. brianofnazarethbrianofnazareth says

    Agree in regards to needing a new striker, let Owen go. Berba will be gone this summer, Hernandez will come good but he is a finsher and not ready yet. Welbeck…..FFS I just don’t get what people see in him, he can’t stay on his feet, he’s wasteful and not worthy of leading the line for a top 4 Premier league team, he is not the man to win us European titles!

    Valencia, Nani and Young are enough for us on the wings.

    We do need that creative spark in the middle of the pitch.

    With Johnny Evans showing us some spunk we’re OK for defenders, though with the twin being made of glass we could do with a right back.

    So to sum up, WORLD class striker, creative genius and a top quality right back.

    • DeadRevel says

      “Hernandez will come good but he is a finsher and not ready yet. Welbeck…..FFS I just don’t get what people see in him”

      This is wrong on every possible level.

      And we don’t need a right back. We have Rafael… & Smalling /Jones / Fabio / Valencia as back ups.

  51. Alfonso BedoyaAlfonso Bedoya says

    No new signings… at least none that we actually want.

    Both Scholes and Giggs will stay another year… Fletcher will come back, and Cleverly will be given his chance at a full, fit season… Anderson???

    Striker??? Maybe… but I’d expect a cheap young prospect before anyone substantial.

    • DeadRevel says

      Don’t need another striker. Giggs and Scholes staying is a good thing, as long as we invest in a new young midfielder as well.
      Doubt Fergie will buy another striker, especially a young one – we have three first team strikers already as well as Macheda and Keane if we need them. Also have Young and Nani who can play with a striker up front if needs be.

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