1. Having taken points off the three clubs below us over the past month, it would make sense to presume that QPR might offer something today. Thankfully, they didn’t. Harry Redknapp’s men seem resigned to the fact they are going to be relegated and offered very little. That’s not to take anything away from United, who were very professional in their performance today, but they didn’t even really get out of 2nd gear. It was the easiest away game we’ve had all season, with us more or less sharing the possession but managing to restrict them from doing anything dangerous when they had the ball. Fifteen points clear, I’m having that!
2. Rafael da Silva was a very early contender for Man of the Match, scoring the goal of the season after just 20 minutes. Van Persie did well in the lead up but his shot was blocked, meaning the ball bobbled up to Rafael outside of the box. He hit it first time in to the top corner, the type of goal you’d expect from his compatriot Roberto Carlos in his prime, with brother Fabio, currently on loan at QPR, in the ground somewhere celebrating. Moments later, he then cleared a goalbound header off the line, before setting up for Van Persie for what would have been our second, if not for Julio Cesar’s top save. And to think he’s only 22!
3. The biggest disappointment of the game was probably Van Persie’s injury, which resulted from his contribution to the first goal. Having left the pitch, he tripped over a cameraman and ended up bruising his hip. Ferguson took him off as a precaution and reckons he should be fine for our next game though.
4. Like usual, Michael Carrick saw more of the ball than any player on the pitch, but for the first time in the six seasons since joining us, a chant for him dominated the stands too. “Oh, oh, oh it’s Carrick, you know, can’t believe it’s not Scholes” was sung on repeat, years after the odd fan first started singing it. It’s always strange how chants all of a sudden catch on. Carrick is long overdue a song though and I imagine we’ll be hearing more of it now.
5. Ryan Giggs wrapped up the win for United after calmly slotting the ball past Cesar with ten minutes left to play. Danny Welbeck, who came on for Van Persie in the first half, worked incredibly hard to win the ball for United and kept possession in a position he had no real right to (as he usually does!). Nani then played in a lovely ball through to Giggs who was totally composed to make it 2-0. Still, his 70% pass completion rate would probably suggest he isn’t the answer to our midfield issues ahead of Real Madrid. He has been great on the left wing over the past month and did a fine job today, but I would have preferred to see Cleverley given a start in the centre today.
6. Nani didn’t quite reach the heights of his last performance against Reading but he definitely did a job for us and at the moment is a better option than both Young and Valencia. He completed more passes in the final third than anyone on the pitch (18), he assisted our second goal, and he even put in a defensive shift, winning more tackles than any of our players (3/3). He needs to keep playing now and could be in with a chance of playing against Real Madrid.
7. All in all, it was a fairly mediocre game, with QPR offering little and United just looking like they wanted to get the job done. The pressure is all on City now, with us sitting 15 points clear at the top, and then having to beat Chelsea if they want to have any say in the title race this season. I know we said after last season that we can never say the title is won until it officially is, and I’m sure the more superstitious will still say that regardless, but the title feels more or less ours now, and it will certainly feel that way if Chelsea win tomorrow.
To mark the anniversary of United winning the Treble with a team that had academy products at the core, Made in Manchester is available for just £3 for today only. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.