Angel Di Maria Provides The Spark As Manchester United Crave Normality
There are people out there, admittedly with their thumbs too hastily pressed against their Twitter accounts, who are claiming that Angel Di Maria was actually going for goal when he struck the free-kick which gave Manchester United the lead here. You can forgive them.
So desperate are United fans to get a return to normality, a return to the ruthless beatings they often dished out to opposition as hapless as Queens Park Rangers, that they want to believe that their £60m man can turn back time if he wants to.
He can’t do that of course, but he can be the spark which helps United edge closer to their previous highs. If this fluke goal heralds the start of that, it’ll take on almost biblical proportions, but the fact that the Champions League starts this week and United aren’t in it should serve as a reminder of just how far this team has to go.
You Can’t Read Too Much Into This
On the opposite side to the Di Maria goal argument was the one about how this result cannot be blown out of proportion.
QPR lost 4-0 to Tottenham, who in turn lost 3-0 at home to Liverpool, who then lost 1-0 to Aston Villa at Anfield. The Premier League routinely comes up with equations such as this, and what it tells you is that nothing can really ever be taken for granted.
United go to an impressive Leicester City next Sunday, and they won’t find their opponents there to be as kind as these ones were.
QPR Were Never In The Game
Harry Redknapp will doubtless put this result down to his club being in the wrong place at the wrong time, and not playing United prior to their cash-injected shot of confidence.
Swansea, Sunderland and Burnley all took something from that United team of course, but QPR were never set up to try and do the same and deflate the growing balloon of optimism at Old Trafford.
Sitting off a team with no confidence and allowing them to dictate play – thereby restoring said confidence – can never be a clever idea, and as QPR showed at Spurs, when they lose they can lose big.
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Formations Are All In The Head
Louis van Gaal joked before the game that he couldn’t play his preferred three centre-back system even if he wanted to because of the injuries at the club, including those to Phil Jones and Chris Smalling.
What he does when those and others return remains to be seen, but it was clear from the setup and the smiles on the faces of the United players that everyone seemed comfortable in his place here.
The front five players could all interchange and find themselves in positions in which they were comfortable, and although much will probably be made of Robin van Persie’s failure to score and shine, that really is a minor point on such a day.
Creaking Rio Ferdinand Is Cause For Concern
“Rio, Rio give us a wave,” sang the United fans in the second half. They got no response.
In truth Rio Ferdinand might just not have noticed, because he didn’t seem to pay much attention for the hosts’ second and fourth goals for Ander Herrera and Juan Mata respectively, as the veteran’s return to his old stomping ground ended in a day to forget.
Of course QPR will face far more winnable games than this one, but the form of their centre-back has to be seen as a cause for concern.
The R’s have found out once before that trusting experienced players over younger, hungrier ones isn’t exactly the best way to treat a relegation battle, and they could be falling into the same trap.
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