Temporarily top after turn-aroundBy: Ian | November 25th, 2012
So begins a string of fixtures Utd really should be expected to get full points from. However, for the first hour or so against QPR yesterday, things seemed to be going horribly wrong. Having sacked Mark Hughes, and appointed Harry Redknapp who watched on, and playing under two caretakers, QPR seemed to be a team in the middle of switching plans. Added to the fact they are firmly bottom of the table, the points were ripe for the taking, right? Well, it should have been that simple, but it took a while for Utd to switch on. Which happened after going behind. Now I’ve written that before somewhere….
The match was slightly delayed in starting, as Julio Cesar apparently put on the wrong shorts. And that’s completely understandable. It’s not as if the goalkeeper kit is obvious against the other ten, is it? So easy to make a mistake. Who says footballer’s can be a bit dim?
The attacking lineup of Van Persie and Welbeck, supported by Rooney, Scholes, Fletcher and Young, should have been flying forward. Didn’t happen, but QPR were happy for Utd to have possession, as long as it wasn’t near the goal. The first forage forward saw Van Persie twist and turn, before the ball found Scholes, who couldn’t get it out of his feet early enough to slot past the advancing keeper. The Dutchman then tried himself and made the net rustle, but sadly only from the side.
QPR seemed happy to defend, with little attacking menace, but Utd weren’t really pressing all that strongly. A bit of scrappy play saw Rooney play in Scholes, who flicked on for Young, whose volley looked good but again it was the wrong side of the post. Perhaps it was the rain turning the ground into a thick soup that clung to boots, but there wasn’t much play at pace. Young and Welbeck switched sides, which saw some chances fall to Rooney. The first was easily saved, then he went for a power drive, that nearly resulted in disaster. The blocked shot saw QPR gain possession and break away with Cisse finding the ball on the right flank. He slowed to a standstill, with no pressure at all, then placed a great cross (well he had the time) into the box for Mackie to head in. It was ruled offside, which was correct, but it was so marginal you could have forgiven the official for not seeing it. A let off and a warning, I would say.
That warning wasn’t heeded, and just after the break QPR took the lead. Taarabt found space, and played the ball into Dyer (astonishing that he was fit – I thought he had a permanent injury that he took to different clubs to show them). The resulting low ball was only parried by Lindegaard into the feet of Mackie for a simple tap in. 1-0 to QPR.
Forunately, it was the shot that Utd needed. Scholes picked up a yellow (I insert this automatically into every game he plays in) and was replaced by Hernandez, with Anderson taking the place of Young. This extra pep saw Utd start to play. Four minutes after the hour, a Utd corner saw Rooney whip the ball in towards Welbeck, who managed to divert it back across goal. Some goalkeeper indecision allowed Evans to head in, from about 0.0001 yards. Four minutes later, a repeat of the corner tactic occured with Rooney floating the ball in, this time for Fletcher, his first league start for over a year, who headed firmly home. He gets the picture this week, he did look happy and that was nice to see.
Anderson looked like he was in the mood to play, and play well he did, for he helped complete the turn-around on 71 minutes as he slotted a great ball in for Hernandez, who did what Hernandez does in those sorts of positions. Another sub goal for him and a continuation of some great form. Nick Powell also got some playing time, replacing Welbeck. QPR had a final chance with Clint Hill aiming a header for the post, which was smartly removed by Rafael.
So, back to the top, but possibly only briefly as City play Chelsea today. West Ham (midweek) and Reading to come before meeting City themselves for Utd. Thoughts on the match below.