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Sep 162014

Manchester United 4-0 Queen’s Park Rangers
36ffcb13 7d47 4784 8833 715992468fa4 620x372 Di María Makes Old Trafford Home!Any kind of victory would have been a feast for United fans, let’s face it. Nevertheless, although Queen’s Park Rangers may not be top ten PL material, they’ve got enough talent to not to get relegated and enough talent in their squad to be a spoiler for more than a few of the big boys as the season goes by. Not on this day, however.

Having been humiliated every which way, including being staked out in the desert of lowered expectations by Piers Morgan and his Fleet Street friends, their bellies split open from sternum to you-know-what, their tripes pulled out and then thousands of hungry historical loser and second-rate ant/fans from Manchester City, Liverpool, Tottenham Hotspur, Everton and particularly self-pitying whining Arsenal dropped into the wound, Manchester United can not be killed! Money changes everything and despite the team staring into a giant tunnel and being temporarily blinded by the white light, they live, they breathe and they are resurrected. To be sure, it has taken much longer than we would have liked but, finally, there is a collective sense from all and sundry. Manchester United have finally stood up to be counted. The grin on Louis Van Gaal’s face, like a Norman Rockwell sketch, was not one of arrogance so much as certainty. The distinction is huge.

The ruddy-jowled Iron Tulip had warned us it was going to take time, but the results of a huge financial investment and a ruthless cull was there for all to see. Now and again, although they were never quite consistent, the team played like a brilliant convalescent on a first day back at work after a fifteen month nervous breakdown. Quick and sometimes brilliantly fluid, they had that familiar physical and mental speed back in spades. Relishing possession. confident and well prepared against an opposition able to do little but press United tight inside their own box and engineer a grand total of three convincing counterattacks, United had a fine old time of it.

Never modest, Van Gaal described the victory as a “new start.” His ambition to wrestle the league championship away from the El-Etihad across town in Ancoats back to Old Trafford in his very first season in England. Overstated? Perhaps, but the kudos belongs for those who wing it where eagles dare. So, why not?

82a58f47 4a6f 4666 86d8 af3cdf5ed679 620x396 Di María Makes Old Trafford Home!Ángel Di María, who really is ‘the Noodle,’ noodling hither and thither, left to right, his head down, more aptly perhaps a kind of Argentinean ant-eater. After rummaging in the turf, doing his little wizard tricks, his head suddenly pops up like radar, he assesses the main chance: A shot? A pass? He doesn’t seem fast. It looks sometimes like he’s going in slow-motion. But that’s not slow motion, it’s poetry-in-motion. Something I haven’t seen since Georgie Best and Bobby Dazzler played. Days when I thought the way they played was the normal state of things. How much did he cost? How much did Les Gooners waste on Bug-Eyes? How much did the Gaffer squander on the narcotic Bulgarian? !El fideo es un genio! £59.7m and worth every penny! Think I’m full of it? Wait a while!

Additionally, Ander Herrera’s hard graft throughout the match proved he isn’t some project. His goal was outstanding, his hard-running game up there with an outstanding Wayne Rooney, who also scored. All reveled in a system that still seemed to me to be a wedged 3–1-3-1-1. And although the back line, including De Gea seemed more than a little porous throughout, the relaxed elegant Daley Blind was there to fill all the holes. Putting in quality tackles and distributing the ball with far less fuss than the man he replaces, Michael Carrick.

Di María began QPR’s demolition 24th minutes in with a tumbling free-kick from the right that was surely intended to be a cross but hit the sweet spot in front of the far post with enough speed that it completely fooled goalkeeper Robert Green and the rest of his defense to make it 1-0. To say he meant it would be generous but it was a brilliant delivery that brought his good fortune, nevertheless.

The second goal was of Di Maria’s making again. This time he started his run inside his own half, increasing the throttle as he advanced, causing panic as he approached the penalty area. What followed, a reverse pass to Rooney, completely bamboozled two defenders in the process. Rooney’s shot was blocked, but the Red Devils captain seized the moment, prodded the ball into Herrera’s path and rejoiced as the tough little Basque pumped home a low shot.

Just before half-time, to Rooney’s visible relief, his first non-penalty P.L. goal of the season followed a bout of clever passing between Di María, Mata and Herrera, the latter dishing up an absolute beauty, which allowed the Scouser plenty of time to pirouette on the turn, pick his spot and blast a 20-yard drive into the bottom cornerof the net.

One thing is for certain, the defense is still more than just a bit fragile. There were more than a few problems and ‘Spanish Dave’ De Gea was fortunate that Jonny Evans got back to spare him after a sloppy 28th minute error almost let in Matt Phillips. Debutante Marcos Rojo, picked ahead of a recuperated Luke Shaw at left-back, made a couple of mistakes that higher quality opponents would have pounced on. Nevertheless, all vulnerabilities aside, Tyler Blackett enjoyed himself at the back and improves with every game.

Falcao, restricted to a substitute’s role after performing for Colombia against Brazil on Wednesday in Miami, began warming up to raucous acclaim in the 58th minutes and he looked genuinely moved as the Stretford End repeatedly sang his name. A new song in anticipation of his impending arrival. Seconds later, Di María picked out Juan Mata who ever-so-casually pushed home a fourth goal. The stadium erupted. As loud as Old Trafford has been in six seasons.

When Falcao did make it onto the pitch to replace Mata, he arrived wearing one pink boot, one blue and a beatific grin. And only minutes later, a shellshocked QPR were extremely fortunate that Green sprinted quickly enough off his line to push aside a debut goal for the Stretford End’s brand-new darling lad.

The latter part of the game was a desperate effort to limit any further punishment being meted out by United. Harry Redknapp’s team, which had seemed so lost and intimidated for the first hour performed with a more marked sense of integrity for the final half-hour.

“I think United will be coming into their own again almost immediately,” a smiling Rio Ferdinand said after the game. “The club and I miss each other a lot already.”
57c93d8f 4675 49b9 b984 a193c81af8bc 620x403 Di María Makes Old Trafford Home!

Ivor Irwin

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