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
Russell Brand was in typically combative form during his promotional interview with Newsnight's Evan Davis
peopleReports that Brand could stand for Mayor on an 'anti-politics' ticket
News
The clocks go forward an hour at 1am on Sunday 30 March
news
Arts and Entertainment
The Doctor finds himself in a forest version of London in Doctor Who episode 'In the Forest of the Night'
TVReview: Is the Doctor ever going stop frowning? Apparently not.
News
Voluminous silk drawers were worn by Queen Victoria
newsThe silk underwear is part of a growing trade in celebrity smalls
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
footballMatch report: Real fight back to ruin Argentinian's debut
News
Candidates with surnames that start with an A have an electoral advantage
newsVoters are biased towards names with letters near start of alphabet
Arts and Entertainment
Isis with Lord Grantham (Hugh Bonneville)
TV
Arts and Entertainment
Jay James
TVReview: Performances were stale and cheesier than a chunk of Blue Stilton left out for a month
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
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

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news: musician splits with manager after police investigate assault claims

Wilko Johnson, now the bad news

Former Dr Feelgood splits with manager after police investigate assault claims
Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands ahead of the US midterm elections

Mark Udall: The Democrat Senator with a fight on his hands

The Senator for Colorado is for gay rights, for abortion rights – and in the Republicans’ sights as they threaten to take control of the Senate next month
New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

New discoveries show more contact between far-flung prehistoric humans than had been thought

Evidence found of contact between Easter Islanders and South America
Cerys Matthews reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of Dylan Thomas

Cerys Matthews on Dylan Thomas

The singer reveals how her uncle taped 150 interviews for a biography of the famous Welsh poet
DIY is not fun and we've finally realised this as a nation

Homebase closures: 'DIY is not fun'

Homebase has announced the closure of one in four of its stores. Nick Harding, who never did know his awl from his elbow, is glad to see the back of DIY
The Battle of the Five Armies: Air New Zealand releases new Hobbit-inspired in-flight video

Air New Zealand's wizard in-flight video

The airline has released a new Hobbit-inspired clip dubbed "The most epic safety video ever made"
Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month - but can you stomach the sweetness?

Pumpkin spice is the flavour of the month

The combination of cinnamon, clove, nutmeg (and no actual pumpkin), now flavours everything from lattes to cream cheese in the US
11 best sonic skincare brushes

11 best sonic skincare brushes

Forget the flannel - take skincare to the next level by using your favourite cleanser with a sonic facial brush
Paul Scholes column: I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo

Paul Scholes column

I'm not worried about Manchester United's defence - Chelsea test can be the making of Jones and Rojo
Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

Frank Warren: Boxing has its problems but in all my time I've never seen a crooked fight

While other sports are stalked by corruption, we are an easy target for the critics
Jamie Roberts exclusive interview: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Jamie Roberts: 'I'm a man of my word – I'll stay in Paris'

Wales centre says he’s not coming home but is looking to establish himself at Racing Métro
How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?

A crime that reveals London's dark heart

How could three tourists have been battered within an inch of their lives by a burglar in a plush London hotel?
Meet 'Porridge' and 'Vampire': Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker

Lost in translation: Western monikers

Chinese state TV is offering advice for citizens picking a Western moniker. Simon Usborne, who met a 'Porridge' and a 'Vampire' while in China, can see the problem
Handy hacks that make life easier: New book reveals how to rid your inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone

Handy hacks that make life easier

New book reveals how to rid your email inbox of spam, protect your passwords and amplify your iPhone with a loo-roll
KidZania lets children try their hands at being a firefighter, doctor or factory worker for the day

KidZania: It's a small world

The new 'educational entertainment experience' in London's Shepherd's Bush will allow children to try out the jobs that are usually undertaken by adults, including firefighter, doctor or factory worker