Queens Park Rangers-Manchester United Preview
LONDON (SE) - Queens Park Rangers confirmed the appointment of Harry Redknapp as their new manager just hours before the London club were due to face Manchester United on Saturday afternoon.
Former Tottenham boss Redknapp, who has agreed a two-and-a-half year contract with Rangers, will watch his new side from the stands at Old Trafford.
Rangers have suffered the worst start to a Premier League season by any side for almost two decades, with just four points from 12 games, and that dismal sequence of results led to the London club terminating the contract of previous manager Mark Hughes on Friday.
"The Board of Directors wish to thank Mark for his commitment, hard work and dedication in his ten months in charge," read a statement released on the club's official website. "Mark has shown integrity and professionalism throughout his time here, but ultimately the circumstances we find ourselves in have left the Board of Directors with very little choice but to make a change."
Rangers are the first club to be without a win at this stage of a top-flight season since Norwich City in 2004, and the last team to have four points after 13 games was Sheffield United in 1990. They were subsequently relegated, so defender Ryan Nelsen knows that it is time for the players to front up against every opponent.
"It doesn't matter who you're playing, the Premier League is just unforgiving," said the veteran Rangers centre-back on the club's official website. "You've got to earn your right to play and win. When the pressure is on, you can be the most talented players in the world but when the microscope goes on you, talent goes out the window.
"I believe we need more mental strength and hopefully we can then showcase the talent to go on to win games. Every game from now until the end of the season is a 'stand up and be counted' game.
Hughes oversaw a summer of heavy spending, bringing in new captain Ji-Sung Park from Saturday's opponents. Despite letting the South Korean international leave the club, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson had only good things to say about him in his pre-match press conference.
"The great thing about Ji-Sung Park is he's one of the best professionals we've had here," Ferguson said. "He was truly fantastic, and particularly in big games. I loved playing him in the big games. His record against Arsenal, for instance, was fantastic. The Milan games over there and at Old Trafford, when I asked Park to play directly against (Andrea) Pirlo, are memorable. He never gave Pirlo a kick and he kept running off him which was brilliant too.
"Park had roles that only a disciplined and selfless player could have. That's exactly what Ji-sung was, selfless. He played for the team and whatever role you gave him, he would stick to that role. So he was a really wonderful, disciplined professional for us."
Manchester United have doubts over Wayne Rooney, David De Gea, Nani, Jonny Evans, Shinji Kagawa and Nemanja Vidic. Rangers have doubts over Park, while strikers Andrew Johnson and Bobby Zamora are both out until March.
United beat QPR 2-0 home and away last season, with Rooney scoring the match-winner in both games. Rangers haven't won any of their last 12 visits to Old Trafford and have just one victory in 26 there in franchise history.