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Redknapp hangs on despite United defeat - report
Monday, 19th Jan 2015 19:51 by Clive Whittingham

QPR lost 2-0 to Manchester United at Loftus Road on Saturday, but manager Harry Redknapp has held onto his job regardless of the result and newspaper headlines indicating he was certain for the chop.

They came to Loftus Road to bury Harry Redknapp, not to praise him. Second from bottom of the Premier League with varying forms of financial Armageddon predicted if relegation follows in May, the jungle drums were rumbling prior to a visit from Manchester United. The British press, for so long a champion of Redknapp’s cause, was on the turn.

“They could have picked an easier one,” he joked when it was put to him that defeat against Louis Van Gaal’s side could signal an end to difficult two year spell in charge. The QPR manager bemoaned a mole within the club seeking to undermine his position - though surely his team losing every single one of its 11 away matches this season was doing that far more effectively than an anonymous source talking to the Daily Mirror.

That QPR weren’t annihilated will be held up as some weird sort of success.

Rangers competed very well in the first half – a muscular forward line of Charlie Austin and Bobby Zamora sending feathers flying and chickens screeching amid Manchester United's porous back three. Austin drew a fine save from visiting keeper David De Gea with a dipping 25 yard volley that had Goal of the Season written all over it until the Spaniard flung himself up into the air and clawed the ball out of the top left corner.

In a 4-4-2 formation that has brought them joy at home, there was certainly no sign of players turning it in early in order to give a disliked manager a final shove. The Loftus Road faithful have seen what that looks like at the end of Mark Hughes’ reign here and they applauded their players from the field at the end of the game despite the result. By Monday morning chairman Tony Fernandes had attempted to put the story to bed by promising not to wield the axe.

If that is the case, he’s a fortunate man. There have been 16 meetings between these two sides since QPR last managed to win one - New Year’s Day 1992 - and in theory they were never very likely to break that run against some £200m worth of talent in red shirts. Indeed, given the respective resources and league positions, Rangers could be credited for keeping it competitive. But there was that lingering suspicion afterwards that, actually, they’ll rarely get a better chance.

United have international superstar coach Louis Van Gaal in charge this season but, while the same press who seemed to so relish David Moyes’ demise a year ago are keen to fawn over the Dutchman, he’s actually achieved the same amount of points as his predecessor at the halfway point of the season with far fewer cup games to serve as a distraction.

The visitors were a complete mess at the start of this game. The amount of players out of position in a weird 3-3-2-2 set up would have made even Redknapp blush and it rendered Angel Di Maria - a wide midfielder used as a centre forward - and Juan Mata - one of two players trying to play the one ‘in the hole’ position behind the front men - completely anonymous. Wayne Rooney charged around in midfield rather than attack, concentrating more on refereeing the game for Neil Swarbrick than competing in it for his team. Centre back Phil Jones, looking and playing like a police horse post Newcastle-Sunderland match, was taking the United corners at one stage and Antonio Valencia - a winger playing full back - almost gifted QPR an opening goal by being penalised for a foul throw and then stopping to argue about it rather than file back into defensive position. Eduardo Vargas flicked the resulting loose ball over the bar.

The visiting fans could be heard chanting for a simpler 4-4-2 formation, and urging their team to attack. There's a feeling that Van Gaal is over-complicating things and sure enough when he simplified the set up and the approach by introducing Marouane Fellaini for Mata at the start of the second half and young striker James Wilson for Jonny Evans soon after his team improved – the Belgian opened the scoring with a fiercely struck volley during a period of sustained pressure before the hour mark.

The worst Man Utd defence in living memory continued to give up chances though, most notably 15 minutes from time when the whole set up imploded allowing Eduardo Vargas a clear run on the goal from the halfway line with two men up in support. The Chilean, declining in form and confidence while being picked out of position wide on the right, dithered and chose badly, allowing a golden chance for an equaliser to slip away. As Vargas' performances have suffered, so the efforts of his fellow countryman Mauricio Isla have increased. The tireless full back could be found bursting into the area in stoppage time and drawing a save from De Gea after Joey Barton had worked hard to keep the ball in play.

QPR's league position and results so far were not unexpected, something Redknapp is at pains to point out. The team remains in touch at the bottom of the league, despite shipping a second goal in injury time here when Wilson ran through on goal with QPR committed downfield hunting an equaliser – Niko Kranjcar's embarrassing failure to run after the young striker meant he got a second free hit which he dispatched into the bottom corner after Green had saved his first effort. In actual fact, it's Redknapp's demeanour and steady stream of reasons why nothing is ever his fault that have driven fans used to their team getting beaten most weeks to distraction.

After this game he spoke of the need to get a striker in on loan, just a fortnight after he borrowed West Ham forward Mauro Zarate. The Argentinean was an unused substitute here, and has played just 15 minutes on the wing so far in his QPR career. With Vargas, who averages a goal every other game up front for the Chilean national team, playing poorly on the other flanks it's another one of those Redknapp moments that erodes away at the patience and good nature of QPR fans after a while. And still he stays.

And let's not forget, that while QPR troubled Man Utd before half time and spurned other chances afterwards, this could comfortably have been a 4-0 or even a 5-0 defeat. With only 12 minutes on the watch, Radamel Falcao burst through a static backline at the Loft End and drew two saves from Robert Green in a one on one situation. Immediately after the break, with QPR still adapting to the loss of Richard Dunne to injury and the introduction of Steven Caulker, he was left in acres of space at the far post but left his header too close to Green and the keeper produced the save of the match. Twice in as many minutes after Vargas had spurned Rangers' best opportunity the Colombian somehow failed to connect with low crosses from Wilson that appeared to have put a second goal on a plate for him just five yards from the goal.

How would the crowd have reacted to a third, fourth or fifth United goal? How would Tony Fernandes have reacted? Harry Redknapp likes to roll out the occasional line about a last minute equaliser for Swansea at Loftus Road, without which Rangers would be in a much healthier league position, but by the same token he was probably only the amateur-standard finishing of Falcao away from packing his things up into a small cardboard box after this one. That's how fickle football is, and how short term QPR operate – but for three or four saves from Robert Green, we'd probably have been changing the manager today.

In the end, the fans had only Neil Swarbrick's latest display of breathtaking refereeing to get them out of their seats. Pursued throughout the match by Wayne Rooney, he allowed the United captain to say and do as he pleased, and came up with some amazing moments as a result.

On the half hour Rooney used a break in play to have a prolonged, heated discussion with the official about how he felt the game was progressing. Two minutes later Rooney fouled Joey Barton on the halfway line and yet was awarded a free kick himself. Two minutes after that Vargas robbed Rooney of the ball on the edge of the United area to set up a counter attack chance but was, of course, brought back and penalised for a non-existent offence. Mauricio Isla was booked in the second half for a fair tackle and when Marcos Rojo was then also booked for hacking into the back of Bobby Zamora – as obvious a yellow card as you'll ever see – Rooney decided it was time for another break of the game and scream in the face of the official. When that free kick was headed out for a corner Swarbrick, who rather than standing in the conventional position on the far side, looking through play towards his linesman, had decided to stand on the same side of the field as his assistant so they both had the same, identical, crap view, awarded a goal kick after a prolonged pause that clearly indicated the decision was a complete piece of guesswork. Later Valencia cleared the ball behind for a corner and threw himself to the ground in an obvious piece of play-acting – Swarbrick immediately penalised substitute Adel Taarabt for a foul which simply hadn't happened. Clint Hill was rightly booked for a daft push on Fellaini but when QPR counter attacked from the resulting free kick Rooney was allowed to chop down Vargas and then boot the ball away so a quick free kick couldn't be taken with no card being produced.

But to blame the referee in any way for the defeat would be to engage in Redknapp's favoured pass-time of blame shifting. QPR lost because they didn't capitalise on a poor Man Utd first half leaving them exposed to defeat when the visitors improved in the second. While Van Gaal's substitutions changed the game for his team, QPR's – as last week at Burnley – hindered their chances. Redknapp claimed he was pleased with Adel Taarabt at Turf Moor, but dropped him for this game only to introduce him, and Niko Kranjcar, in the second half without any apparent set positions. Indeed the Croatian's involvement seemed to be based entirely around the prospect that QPR might get a free kick on the edge of the penalty area – in open play he contributed nothing for ten minutes and his defending for the second goal does not reflect well on him.

But by any sensible judgement, Manchester United are a better team than QPR and so it proved. Redknapp stays regardless and now has a fortnight of transfer window to go before a trip to Stoke. Play at the Britannia as they have in the previous 11 road games this season, and achieve the same result, and Tony Fernandes may already start to regret not biting the bullet this morning.

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QPR: Green 7; Isla 7, Dunne 6 (Caulker 46, 6), Onuoha 6, Hill 6; Vargas 5, Barton 6, Henry 6, Fer 5 (Taarabt 70, 6); Austin 6, Zamora 6 (Kranjcar 80, 5)

Subs not used: Ferdinand, McCarthy, Hoilett, Zarate

Bookings: Barton 40 (foul), Isla 59 (foul), Hill 81 (foul)

Man Utd: De Gea 7; Jones 5, Evans 5 (Wilson 57, 8), Rojo 6; Carrick 6, Valencia 6, Rooney 7, Blind 6, Mata 5 (Fellaini 46, 8); Di Maria 5 (Herrara 90+5, -), Falcao 5

Subs not used: Januzaj, Smalling, Valdes, McNair

Goals: Fellaini 57 (assisted Valencia), Wilson 90+3 (assisted Di Maria)

Bookings: Mata 44 (foul), Rojo 67 (foul)

QPR Star Man – Robert Green 7 Several fine saves to keep the game competitive, all of them from Radamel Falcao. Credit also to Mauricio Isla for a very decent performance.

Referee – Wayne Rooney (Merseyside) 7 Controlled the game well from start to finish, tirelessly scrutinising each decision and applying pressure to ensure the next one went in favour of his team. For the record, the ventriloquist's dummy with the whistle in its hand gets 3/10.

Attendance – 18,098 (1,800 Man Utd approx) If you're one of the hundreds of people seen walking around in a QP Rangers – Man Utd half and half scarf then you need to have a long look at yourself in the mirror. If you bought one for your child, you should be expecting a call from social services.

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062259 added 20:39 - Jan 19
I too noticed Krancjar's extremely lame effort at tracking back for the second goal. He'd been on the pitch for only a few minutes and there was no excuse for such a pitiful attempt to help out the defence.

But that's not the real problem. The real problem is the lack of impact players on the bench. Zarate has now been declared as lacking match fitness (what?), Hoilett has consistently failed to make a difference off the bench, Krancjar looks more and more a vanity player, Taarabt lacks match sharpness, and Phillips and Mutch can't even get on the bench to begin with !

The problem with good performances which result in losses against good teams, is that they are invariably followed by poor performances against poor teams which also result in losses. This game was another wasted opportunity against a quite poor United team. It is unlikely that Chelsea, Arsenal, Southampton, Spurs and West Ham will be quite so generous giving the ball away as United were.

The permutations for an escape are looking less and less encouraging. If 38 points gives you a 50/50 chance of avoiding the drop, then another 19 points are needed in the remaining 16 games. That looks like 5 wins, 4 draws and 7 defeats. At least two of those wins and two of the draws will need to come away from home. The opportunity is there, but by the looks of things the manager, coaches and players are not going to change, so I'm not sure what is going to happen to produce those required results on the road.


Noelmc added 20:45 - Jan 19
Spot on report as usual Clive. Loved the fact that you scored Rooney for refereeing the game. Refs need to tell him to shut up early on & book him if he continues haranguing them.

billericaydicky added 21:42 - Jan 19
Top stuff as always Clive and as discussed at HT Rooney should have been given the whistle and been done with it.

However you can't blame Rooney for doing that as clearly Swarbrick doesn't possess and pair and was obviously in awe of the England captain. The question is, who is our 'Referee? Its about time we played that game too.

As for Redknapp the decision not to put on Zarate and instead put on Kranjcar was just about the last straw for me. Clueless.

A40Bosh added 22:03 - Jan 19
Worth the extra wait for this weekend report just for the Ref's Ratings alone.

nightwish added 22:16 - Jan 19
Harry keeps on about needing a striker but we have 4 in Austin,Vargas,Zarate and Zamora.He plays 3 players out of postion,Vargas is a striker,Isla is right midfield why sell Simpson?Fer is central midfield not wide left.As far I can see we need a left back,a right back ,a centre back and a left midfielder/winger who can cross a ball

Marshy added 22:28 - Jan 19
I cannot understand why Adel was not in the starting lineup? He was arguably our best player in the last match against Burnley, so why leave him out this time. Typical 'Arry nonsensical tactics! When he did come on I thought he was excellent for the short time he was on the pitch, and the only player looking as if he could potentially turn the game. The Vargas "hesitation" when he was clear on goal showed a frustrating lack of confidence.

Overall our performance was not so bad compared to some recent performances, and we were unlucky not to get anything out of the game. It was a definite missed opportunity, as let's face it Man Utd were fairly rubbish really. The scoreline flattered them.


toemasher added 22:30 - Jan 19
Thanks again Clive. No mention of how bad Fer was. I love his attitude, just not his ability and felt exactly the opposite when Adel came on.

PinnerPaul added 08:59 - Jan 20
Referee - Very good Clive, liked that!

QPunkR added 09:28 - Jan 20
I realise the ratings are subjective - and not as important as the report itself (excellent as usual) - but I'm astounded that you gave Henry and Jesus Barton the same mark, Clive. For me, Kaiser Henry was clearly our best player out on the pitch again. Between him and Greeno for MOTM personally.
Redkrapp really should've started Tarbs instead of that waster Fer as well. He only lost the ball once (while actually trying to, you know, move forward with the ball) and then promptly won it back. Simply has to start, no matter what some clueless dickholes standing round me thought.

qprninja added 10:11 - Jan 20
Why weren't our players in the ref's face as well? Barton should have been doing the same, annoys me when we're that naïve and let "the big teams and players" boss things. I can see Harry getting the boot in the next few weeks and to be honest won't be sad to see him go. We have some good players and the makings of a reasonable side, we've seen it in flashes. I'd even give Tim "nutcase" Sherwood a go at the moment....sigh.

dixiedean added 12:08 - Jan 20
I thought that was Henry's best game for us since he signed - much calmer in possession than expected. Also Barton was much better 1st half than of late . He seems to be a better player when his role is a destructive one instead of thinking he is Hoddle or Wilkins. At half-time you knew we'd pay for not going ahead while they were below par, because they were not going to be that bad after HT - same as the Liverpool game. You HAVE to score against superior teams when you have them where you want them and we're not clinical enough.. So we're stuck with HR now, come what may. He's going to need to pull a rabbit or 2 out of the hat before the window closes as we won't stay up with this team. Apart from Yun & Sandro there is no-one to come back into the team which doesn't bode well. Still a chronic lack of pace and reliant on one man to score all the goals. If he gets injured we're stuffed, as we nearly were last season when he got injured and HR didn't have a contingency plan ( apart from Doyle & Maiga !! ) No doubt Arry's perfect excuse will be TF being busy with AirAsia after the tragedy , but it is now 8 months since Wembley and he still hasn't signed a viable striker to help Charlie. Rancid !

bosh67 added 20:55 - Jan 20
Thought Henry was absolutely outstanding.

JohnMacQPR added 18:15 - Jan 21
Thanks for the usual excellent report, Clive, with one exception! I can't remember you ever pulling your punches before, but to say that Kranjcar's "defending for the second goal does not reflect well on him" is like saying our away form is "not all that good". At the match in real time it looked as if he was making no effort, but studying his involvement more closely on TV he does less than nothing; he wandered back toward the goal as Wilson ran forward and then just stood watching as Wilson shot, Green saved and Wilson then ran onto the rebound - if anything he seemed to impede Ned (who'd tried to stop Wilson from shooting) or at least made Ned think there was a QPR someone there to attempt to stop Wilson getting the rebound. I think Kranjcar has played some wonderful football for us, but he no longer seems to care and I believe he did so little on Saturday it ought to be seen as breach of contract. I would now be unhappy if he ever played for us again!
As you say, we should have been able to get something of that match as United were so poor (or as a United season-ticket holder friend of mine said straight afterwards "we were a bit lucky there"). You're right, we have the players to do far better - so play them where they should play, then leave them to do it themselves. I've just read Harry's latest book and that's - in essence - what he's said about previous teams and players across his decades in football: put the right player in the right place across the whole team and they will deliver. Why can't he read his own book? (Oh sorry, I forgot he says hes not very educated and not very good with maths and reading!).
I hope I'll wake up soon and find Harry has just been a bad dream .... mind you, I'd then find we still had Mark Hughes!! I think I'll stay asleep, but try to stop dreaming.

romfordranger added 22:48 - Jan 21
Oh dear, we will have old Arry at the helm until the inevitable relegation so we may as well just grin and suffer until the end of the season. I think after sacking Warnock and seeing Hughes make a complete mess of it, the club are frightened on making the same mistake again. I would certainly prefer a younger hungrier manager who really does passionately care than someone just going through the motions with a mind wandering towards retirement. Old Arry will have a few more excuses up his sleeve, if only his tactics could be as imaginative! Tactics have never seemed important to him, just get some quality players, put an arm round them and tell them how great they are, and one they are motivated, job done! Trouble is, if you don't have enough quality, and you struggle to motivate yourself, let alone the players, you really are stuffed. So, let's all jump aboard Arry's relegation retirement party and give him a good send off. At least next season in the Championship it might be worth going to away games again! Come on you Rrrrrsssss

pedrosqpr added 13:12 - Jan 23
Match aside , we were not humiliated as we were at Old Trafford.
Has anyone noticed the 2 interviews with Les and Tony .
Les talking about his role very obvious that the club is taking a different route post Redknapp.
just food for thought.
broke down this week and purchased an away ticket for stoke.

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