QPR v Manchester United – No Hiding Place

Team: Cerny, Gabbidon, Connolly, Young, Traore, Faurlin, Barton, Mackie, Wright-Phillips (Taarabt), Bothroyd (Hill), Helguson (Campbell)

Subs Not Used: Kenny, Orr, Derry, Smith

Attendance: 18,033 (including 3,047 ManU fans)

Phil Jones in particular surprised me with his ability to sprint with the ball under such control, it was something to see. Some of our players struggled to control it whilst standing still. Taarabt looked hungry, perhaps he realised that he does actually need to perform in a big league in order to get a big transfer ? Either him or Campbell in for Bothroyd please ! Maybe even Derry for Barton, who made many significant mistakes. Cerny again pulled off some good saves, although he was back to his normal flappy self when dealing with some of the crosses. I thought that Connolly did fairly well too considering his lack of recent action and the fact that he was up against two England strikers.


Man for man they were simply better. I thought that they broke with speed and confidence. Their movement was excellent. I don’t think that Taarabt is finished just yet, as for Barton, he was my MOM in the 1st half, but he then made too many unforced errors, and it cost us. At this level there is no hiding place. From here on in, all games are now huge. The most important thing now for the players, is to completely put the game out of their minds and concentrate on Wednesday night…a must win.

Jimmy Murray

This had appeared an awkward fixture in an arena where Chelsea have already stumbled this tem, but it ended as something approaching a stroll. QPR were breached before they even had a foothold in the game and rarely suggested they could recover thereafter, with United’s dominance hardly reflected in the scoreline. Had profligacy not crept into their approach they could have conjured a dismissal as eye-catching as those mustered over the campaign’s early weeks. Regardless, they never hinted at surrendering their win.

This was a sixth win in seven matches, with only two goals – one a contentious penalty at home to Newcastle United – having been shipped en route. QPR’s most enterprising play was reserved for when the unpredictable Adel Taarabt entered the fray with the game already gone but, one horrible miss from DJ Campbell aside, they chiselled out only half-chances even as Patrice Evra laboured to contain Jamie Mackie on the flank. Sir Alex Ferguson will be relieved that normal service appears to have been resumed at the back, particularly with Nemanja Vidic now a long-term absentee.

There was relief at the sight of Michael Carrick intercepting Joey Barton’s crossfield pass and gliding up-field unchallenged, Alejandro Faurlin trailing behind him and QPR’s defensive unit in collective retreat, before converting his first Premier League goal in almost two years. The 30-year-old had not registered in any competition for 70 games and made an unlikely scorer, though he may merely have lost patience at seeing team-mates pass up their own chances to rubber-stamp the win.

This side will run up cricket scores again in the near future. Phil Jones struck a post and was denied superbly by Radek Cerny, but his galloping runs from deep mark him out as an exceptional talent. Wayne Rooney appears to have tapped into the teenager’s wavelength and slid him through almost at will. Neil Warnock suggested with a smile that his opposite number may have been “disappointed” with Rooney’s display, though that felt rather more like mischief making. The England forward was outstanding as scorer and provider. A weight appears to have been lifted from his shoulders after his Euro 2012 ban was trimmed.

United can only benefit from now on in. The striker opened the scoring after 53 seconds and Rangers never recovered once Matthew Connolly had sliced his first meaningful touch high, but not clear of trouble. Rooney and Antonio Valencia combined slickly with the former nodding in the Ecuadorian’s cross, Luke Young’s panicked and desperate dive across the scorer rather summing up the hosts’ early confusion. Barton admitted the home side “fell short” on the day, with their sloppiness epitomised by Danny Gabbidon’s late appearance for the second half. Warnock was “gob-smacked” when he realised his centre-half had not been on the field as the period kicked off.

QPR will emerge stronger in January, but lent heavily on Cerny here, who made outstanding saves from Valencia and Danny Welbeck, though Paddy Kenny is now waiting to return. Welbeck was denied a good goal by an over-eager linesman’s flag, with Jonny Evans nodding against the bar when the goalkeeper was by-passed. Whilst the deficit remained at one, QPR clung to hope, but David de Gea blocked Heidar Helguson’s attempt and parity remained elusive. “They were better than us,” said Warnock, “but they’re the champions, aren’t they.” They may now have returned to second place, but their threat to City above them merely grows.

Dominic Fifield – The Guardian (extract)

In football you go onto the pitch and no matter who you are playing, you give it a go and at the end you take the glory or the hammering. I came away in two minds, like at Liverpool we showed a lot of respect, maybe too much and if you don’t mark people at this level they will score, be it a player from Norwich or Manchester United.

While the gulf in class is there for all to see, mistakes against Norwich, West Brom, Liverpool and Manchester United have all cost us. It is all about learning from that and perhaps it is now the time to stop enjoying the Premier League and all those wonderful players and, like we did against Chelsea and City, go out and try and beat them.

Paul Finney

I thought that United barely got out of second gear and, sadly, they did not need to. Barton looked ok in the 1st half, but poor in the 2nd (what on earth was he doing with that free kick late on ?). Bothroyd made the ball look like a piece of slippery soap, so poor was his control. Faurlin did reasonably well and Cerny was the difference between a 0-2 defeat and a 5 or 6 goal hiding.

I had been very nervous about Connolly, but thought he did pretty well considering, as did Hill. I had really hoped that Adel would be fired up, as he had seemed really up for it from the pre-match kick-about, but I did not think he made a major contribution after he came on. I would have him in the starting line-up v Sunderland though.

Overall I found it quite a worrying performance and I think we need at least a win and a draw from our next two games or we will be sucked right into a relegation fight that I’m not sure too many of our players are cut out for. I have never wanted a “one season in the sun” type return to the Premier Division. Go up and stay up a la 1973/4 and 1983/4 was always what I hoped for and it still is. A month ago that looked very realistic – now I’m far less sure as the team looks a bit too spineless to me for too much of the time. And that run of fixtures in the final two months of the season has nightmare written all over it.

Martin Percival

Their pace was hard to contend with at times. Cerny was MOM again for me, that one handed save in the 1st half was world class. It was odd that the Rangers players came out in dribs and drabs for the 2nd half and the game actually started without Gabbidon !!! Despite his glaring miss, I was pleased to see DJ come on, but not at the expense of Helguson. The decision was received with many fans near me booing. There were some nice touches from Taarabt including a wonderful ball curled into the box from the outside of his foot. If he’s still in a similar frame of mind on Wednesday, I would love to see him start against Sunderland.

Steve Russell

(The above pics were taken by Martin Percival and used with his permission)