Rangers' rope-a-dope approach fails as Reds lurch into life

 

On a day when the main focus of attention was a man sitting in the main stand, overcoat turned up against the Manchester weather, Manchester United reminded us that there was also the small matter of the Premier League leadership to play for. Play they did, eventually, to regain it for now from their neighbours City, though only after an hour of play as sluggish as any in recent memory.

Conceding first, as is their tantalising habit, they reacted by running in three goals in eight minutes to underline the need for Harry Redknapp to invest in a centre-half as soon as "Auld Lang Syne" is sung; Michael Dawson, who played under him at Tottenham and almost joined Queens Park Rangers in August, being the obvious choice.

Rangers seemed to have developed a strategy of conceding corners, then breaking out against an undermanned United defence to cause problems. They won a corner that led to Jamie Mackie scoring, but from the next two corners at the other end Jonny Evans and then Darren Fletcher – starting a League game for the first time this calendar year after his serious illness – headed in. Javier Hernandez, one of two substitutes brought on after Mackie's goal, scored the home team's third.

So the bottom club were on the wrong end of a 3-1 scoreline for the second successive week, but the attitude and application were a world away from the dismal home defeat by fellow strugglers Southampton that effectively sealed Mark Hughes's fate last week.

Mark Bowen, who had followed Hughes everywhere until the latter was driven out of the club on Friday, took the lead role in the technical area for Rangers and did media duty afterwards. "We did well up to a point but then the roof caved in with individuals not doing their job from set-pieces," he said.

Each team had made five changes for their different reasons. Bowen, assisted by Eddie Niedzwiecki, had started some of the old-stagers from the Championship such as Clint Hill and Shaun Derry, who worked as hard as expected in denying United for longer than expected.

Sir Alex Ferguson, annoyed by the 1-0 defeat at Norwich last weekend, was able to recall Wayne Rooney, although for that first hour he was as ineffective as anyone. "We were a bit lethargic in the first half," Ferguson admitted. "Losing a goal sparked us to life a bit and for 15 minutes we were terrific. We expected Queens Park Rangers would have a surge of determination and enthusiasm, which happens when a team loses its manager, and that's exactly what we saw. They were very determined and worked hard."

Ferguson felt the difference was the introduction at the same time as Hernandez of Anderson, whose driving run from midfield set up the former's goal.

Redknapp, used to Spurs and even West Ham and Portsmouth having a go when at Old Trafford, was forced to sit and watch his newest charges sitting back, though he must have been grateful that United were initially so far below par.

In the first half, one save by Julio Cesar from Rooney with his knees and a swivel and shot into the side-netting by Robin van Persie were the only nasty moments for travelling supporters who have seen the managerial change they wanted. It was nevertheless a shock when Kieron Dyer was allowed to take a short corner, receive the ball back and send in an angled shot that Anders Lindegaard could only prod out to Mackie's feet.

That poke at the crocodile proved ill-advised. Danny Welbeck headed one corner across goal for Evans to nod in and Fletcher rose highest to head in the next one, celebrating with understandable enthusiasm.

Hernandez's finish was as cool as we have come to expect and Redknapp had left the ground before Hill's header was cleared off the line by Rafael da Silva.

Suggested Topics
News
A 1930 image of the Karl Albrecht Spiritousen and Lebensmittel shop, Essen. The shop was opened by Karl and Theo Albrecht’s mother; the brothers later founded Aldi
people
News
exclusivePunk icon Viv Albertine on Sid Vicious, complacent white men, and why free love led to rape
Arts and Entertainment
booksThe best children's books for this summer
Sport
Colombia's James Rodriguez celebrates one of his goals during the FIFA World Cup 2014 round of 16 match between Colombia and Uruguay at the Estadio do Maracana in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
sportColombian World Cup star completes £63m move to Spain
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
news
News
i100
News
people
Sport
Antoine Griezmann has started two of France’s four games so far
sport
Life and Style
techYahoo Japan launches service to delete your files and email your relatives when you die
Life and Style
Child's play: letting young people roam outdoors directly contradicts the current climate
lifeHow much independence should children have?
Arts and Entertainment
Tycoons' text: Warren Buffett and Bill Gates both cite John Brookes' 'Business Adventures' as their favourite book
booksFind out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
News
i100
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Some are reformed drug addicts. Some are single mums. All are on benefits. But now these so-called 'scroungers’ are fighting back

The 'scroungers’ fight back

The welfare claimants battling to alter stereotypes
Amazing video shows Nasa 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action

Fireballs in space

Amazing video shows Nasa's 'flame extinguishment experiment' in action
A Bible for billionaires

A Bible for billionaires

Find out why America's richest men are reading John Brookes
Paranoid parenting is on the rise - and our children are suffering because of it

Paranoid parenting is on the rise

And our children are suffering because of it
For sale: Island where the Magna Carta was sealed

Magna Carta Island goes on sale

Yours for a cool £4m
Phone hacking scandal special report: The slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

The hacker's tale: the slide into crime at the 'News of the World'

Glenn Mulcaire was jailed for six months for intercepting phone messages. James Hanning tells his story in a new book. This is an extract
We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

We flinch, but there are degrees of paedophilia

Child abusers are not all the same, yet the idea of treating them differently in relation to the severity of their crimes has somehow become controversial
The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

The truth about conspiracy theories is that some require considering

For instance, did Isis kill the Israeli teenagers to trigger a war, asks Patrick Cockburn
Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Alistair Carmichael: 'The UK as a whole is greater than the sum of its parts'

Meet the man who doesn't want to go down in history as the country's last Scottish Secretary
Legoland Windsor's master model-makers reveal the tricks of their trade (including how to stop the kids wrecking your Eiffel Tower)

Meet the people who play with Lego for a living

They are the master builders: Lego's crack team of model-makers, who have just glued down the last of 650,000 bricks as they recreate Paris in Windsor. Susie Mesure goes behind the scenes
The 20 best days out for the summer holidays: From Spitfires to summer ferry sailings

20 best days out for the summer holidays

From summer ferry sailings in Tyne and Wear and adventure days at Bear Grylls Survival Academy to Spitfires at the Imperial War Museum Duxford and bog-snorkelling at the World Alternative Games...
Open-air theatres: If all the world is a stage, then everyone gets in on the act

All the wood’s a stage

Open-air productions are the cue for better box-office receipts, new audiences, more interesting artistic challenges – and a picnic
Rand Paul is a Republican with an eye on the world

Rupert Cornwell: A Republican with an eye on the world

Rand Paul is laying out his presidential stall by taking on his party's disastrous record on foreign policy
Self-preservation society: Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish

Self-preservation society

Pickles are moving from the side of your plate to become the star dish
Generation gap opens a career sinkhole

Britons live ever longer, but still society persists in glorifying youth

We are living longer but considered 'past it' younger, the reshuffle suggests. There may be trouble ahead, says DJ Taylor