Harry Redknapp was given an indication of the problems he will
need to fix at Queens Park Rangers after he watched his new club
surrender the lead to lose 3-1 at Manchester United.
After Mark Hughes was sacked on Friday following a winless
Premier League campaign, Redknapp has been confirmed as the
successor and the former Tottenham Hotspur boss was watching in the
stands at Old Trafford on Saturday.
He will take over on Sunday at the start of a
two-and-a-half-year contract and will immediately work on defending
after seeing Jamie Mackie’s opener cancelled out in an eight-minute
spell by Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher, with his first goal in more
than a year after an almost career-ending health problem, and
substitute Javier Hernandez.
Stand-in QPR coach Mark Bowen had made five changes to the QPR
side who lost to Southampton in Hughes’ final game in charge and it
did make a difference but another defeat leaves them still adrift
at the bottom of the table while United returned to top spot.
Following a slow opening quarter-of-an-hour, the first incident
of the game arrived in the form of a United penalty appeal, which
was waved away by referee Lee Probert despite Paul Scholes going
down under a challenge from the recalled Shaun Derry.
QPR were sitting deep in order to frustrate their hosts, who
kicked-off in the knowledge they had not lost to their visitors in
13 previous meetings, and the changes Bowen had made appeared to
result in a more committed team performance.
United were getting a little irritated but, after the half-hour,
Patrice Evra and Wayne Rooney, who was back from tonsillitis,
forced Julio Cesar in to two saves in the space of 60 seconds with
efforts from inside the 18-yard area.
That seemed to bring QPR to life and the visitors had the ball
in the back of the net in the 37th minute when Mackie headed
Djibril Cisse’s cross only to be denied by a correct offside
Before half-time, Clint Hill and Ashley Young were involved in
an angry exchange of words as the QPR man thought the United
winger, who was accused last season of diving to get Derry sent off
at Old Trafford, reacted theatrically to a challenge in the penalty
And seven minutes after the break, United found themselves
behind as Kieron Dyer skipped past Robin van Persie inside the
penalty area before his low cross was palmed back in to the danger
area by Anders Lindegaard to give Mackie a poacher’s finish.
Sir Alex Ferguson, who on Friday was honoured with the unveiling
of a statue outside Old Trafford, responded with a double change,
sending on Hernandez and Anderson in place of Young and Scholes,
who had earlier collected his fifth booking of the season which
will result in a suspension.
The changes added impetus to United and they equalised in the
64th minute when Evans was in the right place to score his third
goal of the season in all competitions after QPR had failed to
clear a Rooney corner.
Four minutes later, as if Redknapp did not need any more
evidence of QPR’s deficiencies at set-pieces, United took the lead
when another Rooney corner gave Fletcher the chance to head his
first club goal since 22nd November 2011 in a special moment for a
player who had previously feared his career was over due to a
chronic bowel problem.
United made sure of the victory in the 72nd minute when
Hernandez latched on to fellow substitute Anderson’s pass to break
in to the penalty area and finish the ball past Cesar for his
eighth goal in eight games in all competitions.