I remember travelling up to Old Trafford in 2008 for QPR`s Carling Cup clash against United. Filled with the dread of my beloved lower league club being on the receiving end of a 10-0 drubbing, I ended up watching a spirited QPR put in an impressive performance, eventually losing by a solitary goal – of which could have easily been taken to extra time had Emmanuel Ledesma not skied the ball over the bar in the last minute. Akin to this weekend, QPR had just sacked their manager, had a caretaker manager in charge and numerous foreign, overpaid and largely ineffective players in their squad. It is with this comparison that I am clinging on to the hope that maybe, just maybe, the QPR players that have embarrassingly attempted to conjure up a Premier League campaign thus far, may decide to pull their finger out and put in the kind of effort and liveliness we`ve been pining for all season.
We all know we will lose on Saturday. Whilst a 1-0 defeat would draw comparisons with the delight of staying up last season, it is the manner of the loss which will interest many. A new manager on the horizon may lead to a few players bucking up their ideas and appreciate their place in the starting line up with such a talented (on paper) squad waiting in the wings. This may be too much to ask, I understand, but with Bosingwa and Zamora out of the team we may witness a determined and brave performance we can pride ourselves on. United appeared flat, lethargic and uninspired against Norwich and Galatasary, something which can potentially be used as extra motivation. The last time Man Utd lost three games in a row was in 2001 which may appear frightening to some, but we could all still hang onto the hope that all of Old Trafford will be intensely engrossed in the Sir Alex Ferguson statue get-together, allowing QPR to sneak in with a performance that could show Young, Ferguson and his United clan where to stick their bitter, arrogant, egotistical and condescending ethos.
QPR 1 (Hoilett)
Team: Cesar, Traore, Ferdinand, Nelsen, Bosingwa (Fabio), Diakite (Derry), Faurlin (Mackie), Taarabt, Granero, Cisse, Hoilett.
Norwich 1 (Pilkington)
Man Utd 0
Team: Lindegaard, Rafael, Evra, Ferdinand (Anderson), Smalling, Valencia (Scholes), Giggs, Carrick, Young, Hernandez (Welbeck), van Persie
Manchester United Team News:
Sir Alex Ferguson handed the majority of his regulars the night off in midweek, with United already through to the Champions League knockout stages as group winners. Wayne Rooney is fit after a recent bout of tonsillitis and looks set to partner Robin Van Persie up top, with Javier Hernandez perhaps afforded the role of impact sub again. Phil Jones returned to fitness in midweek and boosts the defensive options, with Jonny Evans (groin) still rated doubtful by Ferguson. Chris Smalling “should” be available, according to his manager, though the defender has picked up a minor shoulder problem, while Nani will miss out with a hamstring injury once again. .
Possible line up:
Rafael -Smalling – Ferdinand – Evra
Valencia – Carrick – Scholes -Young
Rooney -van Persie
Player to watch: Robin van Persie
Queens Park Rangers Team News:
Bobby Zamora has been ruled out for around three months with a hip injury, ensuring Djibril Cisse of a role up top. On-loan Fabio is unavailable for the trip to parent club United, meaning Armand Traore should continue at left-back, while Stephane Mbia could return to the centre of defence ahead of Anton Ferdinand, having served a three-match suspension. Jose Bosingwa misses out with a virus, though Ji-Sung Park returns from a recent knee injury.
Possible line up:
Onuoha – Nelsen – Mbia – Traore
Taarabt – Faurlin – Diakite – Granero – Hoilett
Player to watch: Ryan Nelsen
Ryan Nelsen, the same Ryan Nelsen that was signed as a 35-year-old to add the much needed experience to the squad and provide cover for 10-15 games throughout the course of the season, has undoubtedly been QPR`s best player this campaign. Stuck at the heart of the defence, the New Zealand international has, thank goodness, provided the bit of steel and resolve a largely flimsy QPR team has been lacking. It would be negligent to think QPR will spend any more than 10 minutes outside of their own half on Saturday, and so it is Nelsen`s leadership, communication and defensive strength that will ultimately keep United`s scoreline under double figures. Add to his job of leading a whole QPR team, he will probably have to contest with a Wayne Rooney van Persie attacking threat up front – good luck sir.
Match Facts & Stats
Queens Park Rangers: DLDLL
Man Utd: WWWLL
HEAD 2 HEAD
Queens Park Rangers: 6
Man Utd: 27
LAST TIME OUT
Premier Leauge – 08/04/12
Man Utd 2
Team: Kenny, Hill, Taiwo, Ferdinand, Onuoha, Diakite (Smith), Derry, Taarabt (Wright-Phillips), Buzsaky, Bothroyd (Campbell), Mackie
Attendance: 75, 505
Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire)
Assistants: Simon Beck (Bedfordshire) and Stephen Child (Kent)
Fourth Official: Geoff Eltringham (Durham)
Lee Proberts last three QPR appointments have all been against Swansea including the 5-0 defeat on the opening day of this season
As alluded to in the above match preview, a Manchester United win is all but a foregone conclusion and so it is how many they score as opposed to if they score. Hughes` teams are always organised, although admittedly this season can certainly dispel those beliefs, but in both performances against United last season, QPR were disciplined and controlled in limiting them to two goals at a time. Should they stick to any proposed plan the coaching staff have devised, they may well be OK. Should they disregard any strategy set out for them, let their heads drop and think about their weekly wage packet this could be a thrashing, a demolition, an embarrassment.
Man Utd 3-0 QPR
Where: Stadium of Light