Full time: Manchester United 3-1 QPR
Well that was a strange match, wasn't it? Manchester United were useless for much of it and went behind again but emerged with a 3-1 win that takes them back to the top of the table. Harry Redknapp can take encouragement from the way his team battled and from the dashes of quality they showed, but will know they have to defend much better, especially from set-pieces. And that's a 13th game without a win. It's nearly December. Thanks for reading. Bye.
90 min+4: Desperate to get his goal, Van Persie beats Hill with a feint inside but is frustrated by a deflection that takes his shot over. It's not his day.
90 min: There will be four minutes of stoppage time.
88 min: QPR almost get themselves back into it, Hill's header from Granero's corner destined for the back of the net until Rafael stooped to head it off the line.
87 min: The persistent Mackie finds space in the United area but his shot is deflected high and wide. Nice stepovers though. You don't expect to see that from Jamie Mackie. Meanwhile Harry Redknapp has seen enough and has left his seat in the stands in order to beat the traffic.
86 min: United are turning on the style now. Hernandez's lovely backheel releases Evra on the left but his pass is just too heavy for Van Persie, who would surely have scored. But didn't.
84 min: "Clearly Scholes saved the game, without his obligatory booking I doubt SAF would have seen fit to change things around," honks Conal Huetter.
82 min: Van Persie nutmegs Dyer to send Hernandez through but his low centre is put behind by Ferdinand. The corner comes to nothing.
79 min: Rooney scoops a Scholes-v-milan pass over the QPR defence for Van Persie but from a tight angle the Dutchman volleys off-target. He's not had a great game today actually. That's the cue for Nick Powell to replace Danny Welbeck.
76 min: I'm not saying Anton Ferdinand is to blame but in the 10 minutes that followed his introduction, QPR let in three goals.
72 min: Adel Taarabt goes off, Junior Hoilett comes on.
HARRY'S HONEYMOON OVER! Manchester United 3-1 QPR (Hernandez, 71 min)
QPR have totally collapsed now. United have scored three in the space of seven minutes and this goal is down to the two substitutes. It was made by Anderson, who sped through the crumbling QPR midfield and found Hernandez with a fine pass that sliced open the visitors' defence, by now rather irrelevant. Hernandez took a touch to set himself and then coolly clipped the ball past Cesar from 15 yards out.
70 min: Looking for an instant riposte, Taarabt nutmegs Fletcher and then larrumps a wild effort high and wide from 25 yards out. "It's like United have suddenly realised they are much much better than QPR," says David White. "Why did it take them so long to work that out? The genius of Harry Redknapp strikes again."
GOAL! Manchester United 2-1 QPR (Fletcher, 68 min)
Yes, QPR really could do with some work on defending corners on the training ground. Rooney swings in another corner from the right and Fletcher powers through the bodies and heads low past Cesar from six yards out. The QPR keeper had no chance there. It's the ninth time this season that United have recovered from a goal down.
66 min: Fletcher hammers one over from 25 yards out. Meanwhile Rafael has his head stuck in a bucket and is being loaded into a giant cannon.
INEVITABLE! Manchester United 1-1 QPR (Evans, 64 min)
It was never going to last. From a debatable corner won on the left, Rooney swings it to the far post, Welbeck heads it back across goal and Evans can hardly miss from a yard out. It's fair to say QPR have some work to do defending set-pieces.
62 min: Rafael charges up the right flank and then ... falls head over heels with absolutely no one near him, tumbling into the ball and sending it out for a goal-kick. What a clown. That pretty much sums up United's day.
61 min: Armand Traore, who must have picked up a knock, is replaced by Anton Ferdinand. Clint Hill will move to left-back. United, by the by, have four strikers on the pitch and not a winger in sight.
60 min: The amazing thing about Kieron Dyer is that whenever he comes back he looks like he's never been away. What a waste of a career. Anyway he's busy causing more bother for United, sliding a low cross across the face of goal. It only needed a touch but there was nothing doing at the far post.
59 min: United make their first changes. The absolutely useless Ashley Young, a total chancer with no business being in this side, is replaced by Anderson and Paul Scholes, who is starting to look old, is replaced by Hernandez.
58 min: Stephane Mbia is booked for a foul on Patrice Evra on the left. QPR's goal has not exactly sparked United into action.
57 min: Javier Hernandez is going to come on imminently.
56 min: After a short delay, Taarabt drops his gentle free-kick on to the roof of the net. By the way, that's not the first time Mackie has put QPR in front in Manchester this year...
54 min: Paul Scholes goes into the book for a foul on Kieron Dyer, who is still not injured. QPR have a free-kick just outside the area.
YOU WILL NOT BELIEVE THIS! Manchester United 0-1 QPR (Mackie, 52 min)
It has hardly been coming but it is not exactly a surprise that United have fallen behind, because they have served up some utter filth this afternoon. And this was an absolutely shocking goal to concede too. It came from a corner won by Traore on the left and taken short by Dyer, all the way back to Taarabt. He weighed up his options and then just rolled it back to Dyer, by now in the United area and with no defenders near him. He fizzed a cross-shot into the six-yard box which Lindegaard could only parry to Mackie, who bundled home from a yard out! Oh my! Redknapp is a genius, obviously.
51 min: QPR break once more. Mackie leaves the ball to Taarabt, who plays a reverse ball through to Cisse. He's into the area, on the left, but his weak shot is easily blocked by Ferdinand.
50 min: United look like they can barely be bothered. The longer this goes on, the more you fancy ... a 94th minute winner. But you get the point. They are not playing well. "In the past few years Ferguson has been rightly praised for rotating him team effectively, however I think the chopping and changing has gone too far recently," says Liam Moseley. "It seems a lottery as to who is going to start in central midfield each week and therefore it is hard to build a partnership or form any kind of cohesion. This season it is hard to look past United looking like a bunch of individuals who win matches on talent alone. However as shown last week and this that is only going to get you so far."
48 min: There are no signs of any notable improvement from United yet. It's just as scrappy and lifeless as it was in the first half. They'll put one in off someone's backside sooner or later though.
47 min: "Funny that you shout Harry for England. On fox soccer warren Barton, a consistent Harry-phile, says the first half solidity of QPR shows what animpact Harry is having," says Rob Lowery. "As he said this there was a great shot of Eric wynalda screwing his eyes together thinking just how was this impact effected without actually doing any managing anyone. Warren then said 'aura' at which point Eric mentioned small things like the team the caretaker picked"
Are you saying Redknapp doesn't have an aura?
46 min: QPR, defending for their lives in front of the Stretford End for the next three days or so, get the second half underway. They keep the ball for 10 seconds. Impressive. "Considering how good Anderson and Cleverley looked as a partnership at the start of last year, it's a shame they never got the chance to start up again, especially with added Carrick," says Nick Thompson. "Scholes' return worked in one way, but on the other hand I think it hurt how they play tactically."
HALF TIME ENTERTAINMENT
To sum up the Manchester United performance.
Half time: Manchester United 0-0 QPR
Harry for England!
45 min+2: This was a decent chance for QPR. Cisse broke and found Taarabat, who dodged a challenge from Rafael cut inside and tried to bend one into the far corner, only to send his effort straight at Lindegaard from the edge of the area.
45 min: There will be two more minutes of this.
43 min: I haven't seen a first half this dire from United since last week.
40 min: Mbia tries a couple of stepovers on the right of the area and sees his low shot deflected wide. QPR are growing in confidence, they haven't had anyone sent off and Kieron Dyer still isn't injured! Things are looking up.
39 min: United fans have been booing Cisse because of his Liverpool connections. They've just booed Stephane M'Bia because, well, you do the math(s).
38 min: Mackie was a yard offside when he had his header disallowed. A fine decision from the linesman.
37 min: Jamie Mackie has the ball in the United net, heading in Cisse's cross from close range, but the flag is up for offside. We haven't seen a replay yet.
36 min: A loose ball breaks for Rooney 25 yards out and he smashes a fearsome drive goalwards, bringing another good save out of Cesar, who beats it away. United are just starting to gather momentum...
34 min: Cesar is forced into his first proper save of the match, though in truth it wasn't overly difficult. Welbeck got in behind Traore on the right and finds Rooney, whose low shot at Cesar. He saves well with his feet. That's better from United.
33 min: Evra runs on to a backheel from Van Persie but can only shoot straight at Cesar. The atmosphere inside Old Trafford is non-existent. But you knew that already.
32 min: NEWSFLASH: United's midfield is rubbish. Cleverley and Anderson would improve it. When United were rattling them in at the start of last season, it was those two in the middle.
30 min: "On a previous MBM, someone suggested that being kicked out of QPR would be Game Over for Mark Hughes, and that he'd end up like Alan Curbishley, someone who coulda been a contender, but never was, a Ron Manager who will disappear into obscurity," says Matthew Cobb. "What do you think? Has he done anything you'd want to put money on him for since Blackburn?" He inspired Phil Brown into that half-time team-talk, I suppose.
28 min: Scholes shows his age as he takes too long on the ball in his own half and is hassled out of it by Mackie. He charges at the backtracking United defence, gets tackled, thinks he's won a corner and does a hot jig of fury when he sees a goal-kick awarded.
26 min: Suddenly United come to life as Evra bursts in from the left, finding Rooney on the edge of the area. His flick inadvertently loops up to Scholes, just to his right, and as a QPR defender steams in to close him down he embarrasses him with a cute touch out to Young on the right. He forgoes the niceties and fires a left-footed volley inches past the near post.
25 min: Van Persie swings a corner into the six-yard box from the right and UNNAMED QPR DEFENDER - they all look the same - does extremely well to bundle it clear under pressure. United are obviously on top but don't really look like scoring. QPR are fairly comfortable at the moment. United are short on inspiration, as they were against Norwich last week.
23 min: Why couldn't QPR work like this against Southampton last week?
20 min: Van Persie makes the QPR net bulge. But it's not a goal. It only looked like one. Welbeck went on a wee scoot down the left and cut the ball back to Van Persie at the near post. He got ahead of Nelsen and whipped a fierce left-footer into the side-netting. "A statue at Old Trafford... arms folded... blank expression... people casually walking beyond it," says Ciaran McGowan. "But that's enough talk about Ferdinand's defending!" He's here all week everyone.
18 min: Ashley Young is being booed. I'm not sure if that's coming from the QPR fans for his outrageous dive against them last season or from the United fans because his miserable displays for them.
17 min: "QPR could have shown a bit more style with their announcement of Hughes departure by giving the reason that he didn't match the club's ambitions," says Tom Shaw. His ambition was to get into the Championship.
16 min: Saying that, here's the first attack of any note from United. Rafael cuts the ball back from the right, finding Van Persie on the edge of the area. He twists and turns, trying to get the ball on to his left foot for the shot. He does shoot finally and as it deflects through, Scholes tries to run on to it and poke the ball past Cesar, who's out smartly to smother.
15 min: United are still struggling to find a way through. They're really not that good this season. City should win the league at a canter.
12 min: My screen's gone blank momentarily.
9 min: United haven't really got going at all. It's very slow. There's no pace. They're just waiting for QPR to do something stupid. An intelligent ruse.
7 min: A corner for QPR, Mackie making a nuisance of himself down the left and hassling Ferdinand into the error. Taarbat's corner doesn't beat the first man. "I'm watching this in Yerevan with an Armenian commentary," says Gary Naylor. "Now my Armenian isn't great, but I'm sure the commentator just said that Paul Scholes was a bit lucky not to get a yellow card. Some things are so embedded in culture that they transcend language."
6 min: Taarabt nearly gets QPR into a heap of bother with an ill-advised run across his own half from left to right. He's almost robbed of the ball by Rooney but manages to hold him off, before winning a 50-50 with Evra.
5 min: Kieron Dyer's still not injured. It's been a very bitty start.
3 min: Word reaches me that the delay was because Julio Cesar, a Champions League winning goalkeeper, was wearing the wrong kit. Not that anyone should think QPR don't know what they're doing.
2 min: Kieron Dyer isn't injured yet.
But kick off they do, at last. Manchester United get the game going, attacking from left to right. They're on the attack immediately but osome neat interplay ends with Mbia stepping in for QPR.
This one's a bit late kicking off. Redknapp out! "That bronze of Sir Alex isn't very convincing is it?" says Justin Kavanagh. "Maybe it needs a chewing-mouth mechanism. If they ever end up making a statue of the former Bournemouth, West Ham, Portsmouth, Southampton, Spurs and England manager, it will have to be made of some shape-shifting substance, like a polymer plastic perhaps. One that could be melted down and remolded at Harry's next port of call."
The teams are in the tunnel. Harry Redknapp is in the stands, signing autographs. At least, let's hope that's what he's signing and that it's not a contract to become Ukraine's manager.
"Obviously what last Hughes his job was QPR's atrocious record and the lack of any sign that they might improve it any time soon," David Wall says. "Nonetheless, there's something quite distasteful about the way that Redknapp has very un-subtly been touting for it long before Hughes finally got the chop. And this is someone who is supposed to be such a decent, straightforward guy, and who will no doubt join in the chorus from other managers bemoaning the lack of patience that managers are shown these days when the next dismissal is announced this season. Sure, Hughes's reputation has been pretty badly damaged by his term at Loftus Road, but Redknapp's should also be tarnished now we can see quite obviously what he's really like and how in contrast it is to his constructed image. I expect that he's done nothing that other managers haven't also done but at least the others don't do so in so obviously a two-faced way."
"That QPR 'scoop' from their website..." begins Andrew Kelly. "They've always done this, somehow marketing club 'news' as 'exclusives'; (and often they were already trumped by national/local press, bloggers, teletext, morse code, magic 8-ball, telegram and my cat). Do other clubs websites do this?"
"I couldn't abide Mark Hughes as a player (even when he played for Everton) so I find it difficult to summon any sympathy for him in any circumstances," says Gary Naylor. "Not that I have to now. He knew the deal when he took the job (and 'Arry knew that Sparky knew). The only question is: "Are QPR more likely to stay up under 'Arry than under Mark Hughes?" And surely nobody would answer that in the negative. Hence - these things happen."
"I'm wondering whether Harry's missing this game is related to him
having to work out his notice from Match of the Day?" says Graeme Thorn. "Obviously it's a short hop across the ship canal to the BBC from Old Trafford, so this way he can watch his team and still be in the studio for his punditry 'duties'."
While we're on the subject of Eric Cantona, here's a selection of the best ever moments from his career that has been EXCLUSIVELY published by us. And YouTube. It's all a warm-up to a brilliant Rob Smyth article on Cantona, which you can read from 10pm tonight or in your super soaraway Observer tomorrow.
Manchester United, with no David de Gea but added Wayne Rooney. Lindegaard; Rafael, Evans, Ferdinand, Evra; Young, Fletcher, Scholes, Welbeck; Rooney, Van Persie. Subs: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Anderson, Cleverley, Powell, Hernandez.
The first QPR team of the Mark Bowen era: Cesar; Dyer, Nelsen, Hill, Traore; Mackie, Mbia, Derry, Faurlin, Taarabt; Cisse. Subs: Green, Diakite, Ferdinand, Wright-Phillips, Granero, Ephraim, Hoilett.
Referee: Lee Probert.
Previously in this fixture ... a 4-1 win for QPR at Old Trafford on New Year's Day in 1992, complete with a hat-trick from Dennis Bailey, who went on to play for high-flyers such as Aberystwyth Town, Stafford Rangers and Moor Green. Safe to say that Ferguson went on to have the last laugh there then. United, of course, were still 11 months away from signing Eric Cantona - it's the 20th anniversary of his arrival of Old Trafford tomorrow.
Now this is journalism
What a scoop from ... QPR's official website.
Late on Saturday 26 October 2008, Tottenham Hotspur sacked the hapless Juande Ramos. You might not remember this, but they were bottom of the league with just two points from their first eight games – that's two points, eight games – and were in need of a saviour. And by the morning, Harry Redknapp had swooped in, was in the dugout for a 2-0 home win over struggling Bolton that afternoon and then somehow dragged a side containing Luka Modric, Jermain Defoe and Ledley King to safety. Clever Harry!
Early on Friday 23 November 2012, Queens Park Rangers sacked the hapless Mark Hughes following weeks of speculation that he would be replaced by Harry Redknapp. QPR, bottom of the league with four points from 12 games, are in need of a saviour. An obvious solution presented itself. Only for whatever reason negotiations have taken a tad longer than expected and Redknapp's only just accepted the job, so he'll have to watch today's match at Old Trafford from the stands, meaning he can totally absolve himself of all responsibility for QPR's 5-0 defeat to Manchester United. This is no Bolton at home. Clever Harry!
All of this, of course, follows a week in which QPR decided not to sack Hughes on Monday and then panicked when they saw Redknapp linked with the Ukraine job. The Ukraine job. If that didn't work, it would have been Brazil next. Clever Harry!
Still, no doubt this is a positive move for QPR, although it does seem that part of the Harry Houdini act is to make everyone magically forget his role in Southampton's relegation in 2005 and that Portsmouth were incredibly lucky to stay up under him in 2006. But he surely cannot make more of a hash of this than Hughes managed, though expect to see QPR doing a fair bit of business in January. When Redknapp surveys the squad he's currently lumbered with, he will see one lacking quality in defence, full of dilettantes in midfield, short on strikers and entirely unsuited to the demands of a relegation battle in the Premier League. A squad with big reputations and no desire. The Ukraine job is still going, Harry.
So it could be another long afternoon for QPR then. Although at least they'll get to see the fancy new statue of Sir Alex Ferguson outside Old Trafford, even if it does look curiously like Taggart. United have lost their last two matches 1-0 but ... nah, we're not going to bother building up to an upset in this one.