Manchester United: Predicted starting team vs Queens Park Rangers; De Gea, Rojo, Jones*, Smalling, Shaw , Blind, Herrera, Di Maria, Rooney, van Persie and Falcao.
Manchester United vs Queens Park Rangers
Barclays Premier League
Sunday 14th of September 2014
Kick-off 4.00pm BST
Match officials: REFEREE; Phil Dowd, ASST REF1, P.Kirkup, ASST REF 2, S. Ledger, 4TH OFFICIAL, A. Marriner.
Previous Meetings all competitions: P 51, W 32, D 13, L 6, Goals F 92, A 46.
Premier League: P 12, W 10, D 2, L 0, Goals F 25, A 9.
Current League Form: Manchester United; D D L
Current League Form : Queens Park Rangers; W L L
Last season’s Top League scorers:
Manchester United; Rooney 17, van Persie
12, Welbeck 9, Mata 6, Hernandez 4.
Queens Park Rangers; Austin 19, Morrison 6, Hoilett 4, Zamora 4, Barton 3.
This Seasons Top League scorers: Manchester United; Rooney 1, Mata 1. QPR; Austin 1.
It would not be unfair to say that QPR toiled for goals in the Championship last season, ex Burnley hit man Charlie Austin bagging 19 and young bad-boy ex Manchester United striker Ravel Morrison on loan at Loftus Road next in the scoring stakes with 6.
Can QPR address this weakness in their attacking artillery this season, it’s worth noting also the R’s can be rash if their passing game is not working inside the box, firing a league high 56% of attempts from outside the 18 yard box.
Manchester United; C Smalling, Groin/ Pelvis (no return date) J Lingard; Knee injury (no return date) Rafael da Silva; Groin/Pelvis (no return date) M Carrick; Ankle/foot injury (5th of Oct) Marouane Fellaini; (back in training) Phil Jones suffered a injury during England’s 2-0 win against Switzerland on Monday evening, apparently it’s a hamstring pull and may keep Jones out of the QPR game, more detailed information will be forthcoming in Louis van Gaal’s press conference ahead of the QPR game at Carrington on Friday.
Queens Park Rangers; A Faurlin ACL Knee injury (no return date).
Ander Herrera, United’s magnificent £29m signing from Athletic Bilbao in the summer transfer window who has been unavailable for selection with an ankle injury could make an appearance against Queens Park Rangers after 3 weeks out injured. What an injection of quality that would be having only seen the dynamic midfielder once in United colours against Swansea City in our opening day 2-1 loss to the Jacks at Old Trafford.
Manchester United’s last league victory was against Hull City 3-1 on the 6th of May 2014, while QPR recorded a 1-0 win against Sunderland two weeks ago.
Our last match against Queens Park Rangers at Old Trafford was on the 24th November 2012, United running out comfortable winners 3-1, goals from Fletcher, Evans and Hernandez, while Jamie Mackie struck the R’s solitary goal. Manchester United going on to win our 20th league title that season. Queens Park Rangers in their second consecutive season back in the top flight were relegated propping up the table in 20th position after a 17th league placing in 2011-12.
Queens Park Rangers currently occupy 12th place in the Premiership table on 3 points, while Manchester United are in 14th spot on 2 points.
Manchester United old boy Rio Ferdinand having played the full 270 minutes of QPR’s opening three matches is recorded as being the 9th best defender in the league, winning 83% of his tackles and 57% of his Ariel duels. Manchester United’s Phil Jones is in 11th place as the best defender in the league also having performed in all 270 minutes this season, winning 77% of his tackles and 71% of his Ariel duels. Mile Jedinak of Crystal Palace is the current top defender – midfielder, winning 63% of his tackles and 80% of his Ariel challenges.
Defence is a key area for QPR, achieving 19 clean sheets last season, beaten only by Brighton the Championship best on 20 clean sheets. However QPR are – were not strong at corners, losing a Championship League high 11 goals from this set piece area last term.
Tony Fernandes’ previously had appeared sloppy and knee-jerk in giving countenance to his managers signings, displaying caution in signing this summer 35 year old, free agent Rio Ferdinand, but the signing has stiffened up the back in tandem with the R’s titan in defence Clint Hill. The Malaysian’s other summer signings with Harry Redknapp’s wheeler dealer approach appear now to reflect a forward thinking longer term approach. The 67 year old likeable Redknapp remarkably the oldest serving manager in English football has surely one last hurrah in endeavouring to retain the West Londoners Premiership status. Redknapp being more selective in this summers transfer activity sharing after the R’s famous play-off final victory at Wembley “We’re not going to bring in players willy-nilly.”
Interestingly Championship clubs paid out in excess of £14m on agents fees last season. Queens Park Rangers fuelling the financial drain, paying out over £1.8m the most in the league. Leicester City and Burnley combined massaging players agents to the tune of £700,000 in fees. Displaying to QPR that you don’t need to waste money to achieve success, Nigel Pearson and Sean Dyche’s teams finishing 1st and 2nd respectively in the Championship ahead of QPR’s 4th placed league finish.
Queens Park Rangers it would appear have strengthened their squad in the summer transfer window, Harry Redknapp pruning some of the deadwood at Loftus Road. In relation to the in excess of £800 million spent by Premier League clubs in the summer bonanza, Tony Fernandes displayed a conservative approach selling £17.3m worth of players and spending £41.5m – a cautious net spend of £24.2m, the R’s being the 7th highest investors this summer. QPR previously signing what appeared average players with huge wages with little or no long term plan for the age of the player or the football clubs long-term needs.
Manchester United at the other end of the spectrum topping the amount spent table, £170.3m on new players, selling £36.8m worth of talent, resulting in a £133.5m net spend in this summers transfer window alone, surpassing an outlay of over £200m spend in 2014!
The quandary for Louis van Gaal is the integration of the new signings into a winning formula with some urgency. How is the Dutchman going to gel them into his 3-4-1-2 formation, the players most likely to be utilized in that system are; De Gea, Rojo, Jones*, Smalling, Shaw, Blind, Herrera, Di Maria, Rooney, van Persie and Falcao. A scintillating array of world class attacking talent, but Van Gaal must earn his corn quickly and blend the new players joining United into a team that fights for each other and understand that in the Premier League no game is a given victory, as United have found out on far too many occasions.
Manchester United are likely to fall 10 points behind Chelsea, with a Blue’s win at Stamford Bridge on Saturday against Swansea City. It’s difficult to fathom or picture how Jose Mourhino’s carefully constructed Chelsea team will be beaten 4 times all season, never mind handing back a 10 point advantage. To assume after United’s 3 false starts in this campaign, that the club can go on a unbeaten run till the 24th of May 2015 against Hull City without suffering further dropped points, is surely fanciful.
The Manchester United manager must register his first league win on Sunday against QPR, that is paramount, or the inevitable searching questions of Louis van Gaal will begin to grow from the whispering classes wittering’s, to a investigation into his recent credentials by the Red Devils multitudes. Questioning the Dutchman’s 3 months in the United hot-seat and scrutiny of his CV as a regular winning manager in the 21st century elsewhere.
The newly assembled multi million pound strike force must fire on all cylinders against QPR and register our first win of the season, charging out of the starting blocks up and running with speed to begin in earnest the challenge for a Champions League place at the absolute minimum. What we have seen to date from United is a slow laboured side – backward – sideways passing, we need to see fast counter attacking play which is United’s hallmark traditionally. Van Gaal has now been armed with the players to attack with verve and thrust, he needs to provide victories now, no matter how they are achieved as the United players continue to struggle to adapt to a negative 3-5-2 formation the Dutchman imposes on the club, while the league challenge drifts away. He will however stand or fall by his decisions, but supporters are getting tetchy.
Van Gaal must convince that there will be no repeat of last seasons shambles Newcastle United, Tottenham Hotspurs, Everton, Sunderland and West Bromwich Albion turning up at Old Trafford with no fear and leaving with 3 points. The manager must return the fear factor back to Old Trafford and rebuild the fortress, starting on Sunday the 14th of September 2014 with a convincing victory against QPR. No further excuses can be tolerated.
If United fail to register a victory on Sunday many Reds believe that is title assault over, if it is not already. Van Gaal is now playing a high stakes roulette game, where patience, goodwill and trust in the leader will simply drain away, if we are admitting the league is over after 4 matches played. The boss must engineer a formation on Sunday to get those 3 points on the board.
Most Red’s were delighted when looking at the clubs opening 6 fixtures featuring the 3 newly promoted teams, believing misguidedly in hindsight that United would have 18 points on the league table board following the QPR, Leicester City (a) and West Ham (h) matches. Hindsight is wonderful we all have this, what we needed was foresight to understand the clubs precarious current 2 points won dilemma after the pre-season fanfare of Louis van Gaal’s arrival – deflated is the sensation as the clubs bubble is almost burst. Van Gaal could not have had it easier with no European football to navigate and plan for unlike the other traditional top 4 clubs. One domestic cup left to challenge for, silverware of any form a fantasy on United’s current performance, a forlorn dream. Yet the manager told us all “look at my track record” yes we are looking Mr Van Gaal, until he gets a grip of United and understands the ethics of the club, a winning mentality we remain in this status-quo.
No disrespect to QPR, but this is the team that finished 4th in Championship last season, and achieved entry to the Premiership through the £120m play-off final, with a last minute goal from Bobby Zamora against Derby County. And as has been shown, the R’s have spent a minuscule amount on football players in comparison to Manchester United, so on Sunday there should be no excuses in not registering a victory.
Queens Park Rangers record transfer fee Christopher Samba costing £12.5m in 2013, approximately £3m less than Wayne Rooney’s annual salary to highlight perspective in financial clout, but this is of little consequence if the gulf in investment made is not turned into a winning team, the staple diet United have been fed through the Premiership era and prior to this financial rich period.
There can be no leeway now for Louis van Gaal to not deliver wins, although while the club and the support are low in confidence – belief, patience is likely the key ingredient that we as supporters will need to have, but that commodity – patience, is not a trait that has a happy marriage with the Manchester United support. Only victories will inspire confidence and aid the reduction in anxiety that the Manchester United fans are currently enduring.
There has been much talk during the International inter-lull, regarding Juan Mata’s possible transfer away from United to Juventus, having only arrived at the club a mere 9 months ago in a £37m transfer from Chelsea due to new range of attacking options available to Van Gaal, Di Maria and Radamel Falcao. In Mata’s 17 starts the Spanish International has scored 7 times and provided 4 assists, being involved in 39% of United’s league goals since he arrived at our club in January 2014. Would it not be sensible to retain a player who is familiar with the Premier League, tried and tested both at Chelsea and United. Rather than this reputed policy of constantly ripping it up and starting again, as the player is not the current managers choice. A bizarre transfer policy if the Juan Mata departure is factual as the little magician settles into a new club – teammates, city and playing formation.
What exactly will be the predicament at the club when, not if, Louis van Gaal departs United?
Trash all the current new signings with a new managers arrival, go on another supermarket sweep of football players binning future youngsters like Danny Welbeck, Nick Powell (loan) and Tom Lawrence, heaven forbid Adnan Januzaj – James Wilson. In saying this nobody was in doubt that United required major surgery, but a word of warning, foresight tells us United fans that Louis van Gaal does not stick around too long at any club he has managed in the past, Barcelona – Bayern Munich or Ajax. But as has been written about so eloquently on The Faithful, at present United is a grave yard for young players and it’s against all the clubs basic principles to grow young players to be mature professionals, by providing opportunity.
To date the Dutchman has talked the talk, but now is the time for the manager to deliver positive results, with nothing less than victories in the clubs next 3 matches. United have on the horizon Everton (h) Chelsea (h) Manchester City (a) and Arsenal (a) in late November. Last season accumulating while morphing during the alleged ‘transition’ under David Moyes as the captain at the helm, 5 points was achieved from a possible 24 from those four teams. It felt as United were rudderless, mayday flares being launched, deafened only by the noise of panic alarm bells. Moyes costing Manchester United this season in lost Champions League money £35m and a further £8m in prize money. But the strength of United as a global brand still push forward with total turnover to the financial year end; June 30th expected to be in the band £420m to £430m. Senior club officials are confident that United can still increase turnover without a further year participating in the Champions League. That would appear to be throwing in the towel, that Champions League football this season, is not attainable. Fantastic news?
Over the last fourteen days since the Burnley game there have been numerous articles on the proposed formation that Louis van Gaal should adopt, whether that be; 3-5-2, 4-4-2, or 4-5-1 and further variety of permutations equalling a myriad of views, which of course is fandom and is of topical interest. With United’s world class arsenal in attacking firepower now at Van Gaal’s disposal, it may be the case in the Dutchman’s thinking, you score 3 we will score 4, but (always a but) it would be rather pleasing, no encouraging – vital on Sunday to increase our current goal tally from 2 strikes and for the United strikers to blooter in a shed-full of goals against QPR. Lifting off the clubs season. It’s in your remit as forwards to score goals, and critically the managers job to motivate the players to ensure a win and goals are scored. Van Gaal must make this happen.
Formations and systems are opinion for the football connoisseur’s but as the legendary successful Liverpool manager Bill Shankly pointedly stated, “put the ball in the net, after that we will discuss your options, a lot of football success is in the mind, you must believe you are the best and then make sure you are.”
Football matches are not won by team structure – systems, it’s football forwards that win games – by putting the ball in the net, defences will lose leagues.
Have United replaced adequately Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Sir Alex Ferguson with appropriate football people that know the Premier League – importantly the history of Manchester United?
Match Prediction: Manchester United 4 Queens Park Rangers 0.