Manchester United beat QPR 2-0 last season with Michael Carrick finding the back of the net
Manchester United travel to QPR for only the second time in the last seventeen years since both sides met in the league. Back then they were fighting relegation and United were trying to win back the title they’d lost the season before through their inspirational forward. Some things don’t really change do they? United beat QPR 2-0 at Loftus road last season, with goals from Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick. Patrice Evra had a shocking first forty-five minutes up against Jamie Mackie, but United claimed all three points.
Earlier in the season, manager less Rangers took the lead at Old Trafford before goals from Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher and Javier Hernandez hit back with three goals. Here we discuss the match preview and welcome comments from both sets of fans.
A view from the opposition
1. What chances do you think QPR have of surviving this season?
Pretty slim. It’s still possible, but the team need to start winning soon. Personally I think it will be difficult because it’s more about a psychological barrier and the mental and emotional stability of the side.
They are too up and down in that regard and just can’t seem to take that next step when they need it. Every time you think they’re building momentum and are on the brink of the result they need, they’ve let themselves down and not been able to produce. There’s a lot of pressure there and we’re just a bit too naive and fragile.
The recent match at home against Norwich City felt like a make or break result – we needed to win to build that momentum going into the final stage of the season but we could only manage a draw.
That had a psychological impact and by the time we kicked off against Swansea City in the following game you could tell something was wrong and could smell a big defeat in the air – and in the end – we were lucky not to lose more than 4-1.
2. Was Harry the right man for the job? What are your thoughts on him since he came in?
Yes – but only because of the lack of football knowledge and expertise at board level. The owners do not know enough to be able to identify a younger manager that would be able to rebuild the long term strategy of the club.
Therefore Harry is a good short term solution; he’s experienced and knows the game – but regardless of whether we survive or not – if he doesn’t leave for a better opportunity elsewhere he’s also getting nearer to retirement as well.
As for the job he’s done – it’s been excellent. He’s managed expectations well and when the chips have been down he has been the one person who has remained calm and composed. He’s picked the players up well after they’ve let themselves down and got them back out on the pitch for another go.
So there are no complaints on that side; he’s astute and the reality is he and his backroom team are too good for QPR and should be elsewhere.
3. How did you feel about Alejandro Faurlin going on loan to Palermo? He looked a fine player last season. He’s had some major injury problems since then, but do you think he would have had a positive impact if he were still at Loftus Road for the final stages of the season?
Gosh yeah – we all love Faurlin at Rangers; a technically gifted player with an excellent attitude and who always gives his all. The supporters have been immensely frustrated at how he has been so badly mismanaged since returning from injury.
Mark Hughes brought him back early from his anterior cruciate ligament injury and then flogged him to death – playing him in six successive games including League Cup matches that he didn’t need to feature in. It’s no wonder he struggled a little bit and then he found himself in and out of the side as a result.
He’d be left out for weeks on end – then be called upon and play well – and then they’d shove him in again three days later and his consistently and rhythm weren’t right and it was a case of too much too soon – so he’d be dropped again for a similar amount of time before that cycle repeated.
Harry sadly doesn’t fancy him – but he never saw Faurlin at his peak and you do need a good season under your belt after such an injury to find your best form.
You could argue that going to Palermo will help him – the tempo of the play is slower and should definitely suit his game. But he’s exactly the type of player you’d want in your side next season if you’re down in the Championship and I’d argue Premier League too – so we all hope that it’s not a case of goodbye for him. But if Redknapp stays next season it’s hard to see a way back unless he has a change of heart.
4. You’ve won two games all season in the league, what are your chances of picking up all three points?
You can never put it past us to do something out of the ordinary. That’s typical of QPR – over Christmas we were abysmal for three games and then suddenly turned up at Chelsea and won there 1-0.
It would be just like us to win against Manchester United but then not get the results we need against the likes of Southampton, Sunderland and Wigan in the games directly after.
5. Taarabt is a very talented player (even if he cost me my “Taarabt to score first goal in 1-0 win over Norwich!”), what do QPR fans make of him? For his talent and skill, he does get caught in possession a fair bit.
He has been absolutely superb for us and is turning himself into a Rangers legend with each passing week. He’s developed into a fine player and we are reaching a point where he really needs to showcase his skills at a higher level and a bigger club.
It’s something of a misnomer about him getting caught in possession. Sure sometimes he has some of those matches where it just doesn’t quite come off for him – but he has the courage and confidence to pick up the ball and play at any time and anywhere on the pitch and never hides, no matter what the score.
Over the past couple of seasons he has progressed in a way that I didn’t think he would when I first laid my eyes on him. He used to be all about the tricks and showboating for the camera (or himself!) but he’s learned how to channel that unbelievable skill into passages of play that penetrate the oppositions defence.
I always judge players with such flair on how they compare to Zinedine Zidane; either you do the party tricks and it doesn’t actually help you progress your play (hello Joe Cole) or you perform a move that opens up a dimension of play that sometimes nobody saw coming and puts you in a better position and increases your attacking threat. Zidane was the master of that and Taarabt is doing more of these aspects with his skill than ever before.
He really is wonderful to watch when he’s in full flight. I actually think he’d be a terrific signing for Manchester United or Everton – but I don’t think he’d do as well at any of the other clubs and more likely I suspect he’ll end up abroad when he finally moves on.
I’ll be gutted when he goes – he’s the only reason why many supporters turn up and pay.
6. Despite the heavy defeat against Swansea, you were unbeaten in 2013, but picked up a few 0-0 draws. What has been the problem in front of goal?
This partly goes back to what I was saying earlier – we picked up draws because we played a compact tight game and hit teams on the counter attack.
The players can take on board the easier instruction of sitting deep and soaking up the pressure. But once the onus is on us to attack and take the game to the opposition – it’s there you see the flaws and how vulnerable we are.
There’s a lack of cohesion, trust and general naivety in our play that often exposes us and makes it very easy to hit us on the counter. You almost sense the team are a bit nervous to go forward because they seem to get punished for any mistake they make – and once that happens – the psychological impact it has makes them revert into that timid shell and that filters through the entire side apart from Adel Taarabt who just plays unaffected.
You can also add in that we’ve signed so many players that they still don’t know each others games well enough yet. They don’t know enough about the temperament and mentality of their peers to know what they’ll do in any given situation on the pitch and therefore are often reacting or not reacting in unexpected ways that causes a breakdown in communication.
7. How will QPR line up against United?
It can only be defensively. I think we’ll opt for a 4-5-1 formation and look to hit you on the break whenever we can. We’d obviously take a draw – but we’ll be in big trouble if you score early doors and if that happens, you’ll win comfortably either by a big score or because you’ll be able to control the match and play in cruise control.
8. Christopher Samba impressed at Blackburn Rovers, but £12million and a reported £100,000 week wage sounds a big gamble for side flirting with relegation. What did you make of the signing?
On one hand he’s just what we’ve needed for years; a towering centre back who is a presence in both boxes. On the other I think it’s utterly insane that we’ve broken the transfer window twice and gambled yet again and on a player who isn’t fit because he was in the middle of the Russian Winter Break.
I don’t think he’s earning as much as what’s being reported in the press – but you can be sure it’s a heck of a lot and too much for a club of our size.
He’s a good player though and we hope he does well here; he has to.
9. Who will go down this season?
I’m not one for doing predictions but currently I think it will be us, Reading and Aston Villa.
10. I once read that the Estadio El Sardinero (Racing Santander’s ground) was built around the design of Loftus Road! Can you give us a QPR fact?
Adel Taarabt is giving me his match won shirt from tomorrow’s game and will be signing it with “Taarabt’s too good for you”. If that doesn’t make him a legend – nothing will!
For a non QPR fact – Sir Alex Ferguson once made me a cup of tea.
£20 on Danny Welbeck to score first wins you £120
£20 on Jonny Evans to score the last goal wins you £680
£20 on Manchester United winning 2-1 wins you £160
Injury and Avaliability
The league leaders are without Phil Jones, who injured his ankle in the 2-1 victory over Reading on Monday, Wayne Rooney and Paul Scholes. Rooney also missed the FA Cup match through illness, whilst Scholes has a knee problem. United’s midfielder genius hasn’t played in a league match since the 2-0 victory over WBA at the end of December, however has featured in the FA Cup against West Ham and Fulham throughout January. The rest of the players are fit and available for selection, except for long term injury concern Darren Fletcher.
Fabio is unavailable for selection for obvious reasons, whilst a number of players are doubtful for the clash with some facing a late fitness test. The excellent Julio Cesar has a groin problem as well as new signing Loic Remy. Ex Chelsea defender, and once Manchester United target, Jose Bosingwa has a back problem. Lastly, Bobby Zamora, who is QPR’s top scorer, has a hip problem. David Hoilett is in contention to be selected following a hamstring injury.Andrew Johnson is a long term injury absentee.
Potential starting lineup
United have three injury absences, with Scholes, Jones and Rooney suffering knocks of varying severity. With the Real Madrid second leg to come on March 5th (it seems like forever since the first leg!), United don’t have a mid-week game this week. With such a large group of players at their disposal, it is devilishly tough to predict the first XI these days.
My hunch is that we may see Sir Alex put out a strong side, knowing that a win could really heap pressure on City before their tough game against Chelsea. With players like Nani and Young coming back into the fold, it’s also a good chance for those who missed out on the Madrid first leg to stake a claim for inclusion in the second leg. Young’s combination of attributes – hard work, defensive solidity and efficient, unflashy use of the ball – may give him a decent shout of a starting place, if he can build up his form and fitness over the next week and a half. Not for the first time, Sir Alex described Nani this week as a “match winner” on the back of his Cup display against Reading, and the Portuguese winger will definitely want to have a bigger say in the final weeks of the season than he has previously. If Young is not yet fit to start two games in a week, we could see Valencia come in on the right, with Nani taking up a place on the left hand side. After Jones suffered a reckless but highly unfortunate ankle injury on Monday, and with Rooney having fitness worries of his own, this may be an opportunity for the Carrick-Cleverley midfield axis to be reunited, with Danny Welbeck or Javier Hernandez up front alongside van Persie. With it being an away game, Chicharito may get the start up front, meaning that Danny could start this one on the bench, having put in two excellent shifts within the last 10 days. At the back, we could see the first choice pairing of Ferdinand and Evans for this one, given that Vidic played on Monday and is managing his games. A return to the starting lineup for Evra and Rafael looks likely.
QPR’s form has belied their lowly league position, and they’ve only lost one of their last six Premier League matches. Their last three home games have been 0-0 draws, and they do seem have found some defensive solidity and spirit in the past few weeks. As a result, United would be foolhardy to take this game too lightly. The Reds will have to be patient in trying to break them down, and will have to look out for ex-nemeses like Shaun Wright-Phillips. The centre-back and central midfield pairings will have to be on their guard against tricky players like Rémy and Taraabt. Regardless of which 11 names are on the team sheet, United should have enough quality to beat the relegation candidates, but having the right attitude will be essential to making a 15-point lead a reality. With all that said, I think United will emerge narrow 2-1 winners as highlighted in our Manchester United remaining fixtures blogs.
Prediction: QPR 1-2 Manchester