Tag Archives: darren

Tshwane Open – European Tour: Dawie van der Walt wins by two shots

Against the odds: World No 436 Van der Walt wins Tshwane Open on home soil

By
Mike Dawes

PUBLISHED:

15:51 GMT, 3 March 2013

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UPDATED:

16:11 GMT, 3 March 2013

EUROPEAN TOUR LEADERBOARD

Click HERE for the Tshwane Open leaderboard

Dawie van der Walt claimed the biggest victory of his career to win the Tshwane Open by two shots ahead of fellow South African Darren Fichardt.

Another South African Louis De Jager was third a further shot back as Van der Walt picked up his first tour win of the season.

Van der Walt finished with a five under par 67 as he picked up his first win on the European Tour.

Champion: Dawie van der Walt lifts the trophy after winning the Tshwane Open by two shots

Champion: Dawie van der Walt lifts the trophy after winning the Tshwane Open by two shots

Champions: Dawie Van Der Walt lifts the trophy after winning the Tshwane Open by two shots

He was part of a four-way tie for the
lead at the start of the day with Fichardt, compatriot Charl Coetzee and
Chile's Mark Tullo

Coetzee and Fichardt went clear after
they birdied the second and third holes, but Van der Walt drew level
after he eagled the par four fourth.

Fichardt retook the lead after another
under par score on the fifth, but by the turn Van der Walt was in front
after consecutive birdies.

Dawie Van Der Walt

Dawie Van Der Walt

Winner: Van der Walt embraces second-placed Darren Fichardt (left) before celebrating with his caddie (right)

Tullo and Coetzee were out of the
picture after fading on the last nine, while a bogey on the 10th for Van
der Walt was negated by birdies at the 12th and 15th put him two clear.

It proved vital as he closed with three consecutive pars to seal the title.

'You can only imagine what it's like
to win such a big one,' Van der Walt told europeantour.com. 'I'm just
really happy that I played well and won, because you can play well and
not win.'

In the mix: England's David Howell finished tied for 10th on -14

In the mix: England's David Howell finished tied for 10th on -14

He added: 'You start doubting yourself and at
30-years-old you start to wonder if you're good enough and this shows me
that I am. I would have liked to win before 30, but I'll definitely
take this.

'Golf is a game where you don't get a lot of chances to win, and to do it is fantastic.

'I don't know what I'll do yet. The
purses are a lot bigger in The European Tour, so I'll have to rethink
some things. You can make your own schedule, which is important.

'I hit the ball really good and I
never really had to chip, which is not my strength. If you hit a lot of
greens and don't three-putt then you're going to do well.'

Sir Alex Ferguson wants to become director at Manchester United

Ferguson 'set to move upstairs' when United's legendary boss eventually calls it a day

By
Graeme Yorke

PUBLISHED:

02:11 GMT, 1 March 2013

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UPDATED:

02:31 GMT, 1 March 2013

Sir Alex Ferguson has said he is keen on becoming a director at Old Trafford when he finally decides to quit management.

The 71-year-old Manchester United boss said that he is determined to stay at the club after initially intimating that he would step away.

Ferguson said: ‘There’s no getting rid of me. I’ll probably become a director. Nobody knows [my retirement date], neither do I. It won’t be a doctor that tells me to quit!’

Probable: Sir Alex Ferguson said he would probably become a director at Manchester United

Probable: Sir Alex Ferguson said he would probably become a director at Manchester United

As for his successor, he added:
‘They’ll ask me but I think it’ll be a club decision, not mine. With the
structure we have here, it can't be an impossible job.

Former United star Viv Anderson has
rejected the idea that Ferguson might be tempted to step down this
summer, even if they win the Champions League and Premier League.

Anderson, who played under Ferguson
from 1987-91, said: ‘There is no chance that Sir Alex will retire this
summer. He loves the club. He lives and breathes it.’

Not yet: Ferguson is still going strong at United

Not yet: Ferguson is still going strong at United

Success: Ferguson will go down as one of the most greatest managers of all time

Success: Ferguson will go down as one of the most greatest managers of all time

In his wide ranging interview with
twentyfour7 magazine, the United boss also discussed his deliberate
decision to use his former players among his staff.

The likes of Nicky Butt and Brian
McClair are already involved, and Ferguson has backed Paul Scholes, Ryan
Giggs and Darren Fletcher to follow suit.

He added: 'Looking at my present
crop, it's difficult, but the likes pf Giggs and Scholes wil be part of
the structure here. Darren Fletcher is a long term possibilty, and Nicky
Butt is with the reserves.

'We try to get as many former players in the set-up as we can, we've got a good back up.

'We look ahead because that is
succession planning in terms of structure – they've the experience of
being at the club, being a player here, knowing what it takes to be a
winner.'

Celtic player Scott Brown named Scotland manager by Gordon Strachan

Brown named Scotland captain for Strachan's first match in charge

PUBLISHED:

15:34 GMT, 5 February 2013

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UPDATED:

15:35 GMT, 5 February 2013


New skipper: Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has named Celtic's Scott Brown as his captain for the friendly with Estonia in Aberdeen tomorrow

New skipper: Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has named Celtic's Scott Brown as his captain for the friendly with Estonia in Aberdeen tomorrow

Scotland manager Gordon Strachan has named Scott Brown as his first captain.

Celtic skipper Brown will lead out the team for the first time ahead of tomorrow night's friendly against Estonia at Pittodrie.

'He already knows what it's like to be a captain with pressure and that made him favourite,' Strachan told a press conference in Aberdeen.

Gary Caldwell and Kenny Miller have shared captaincy duties in the absence of Darren Fletcher, who is battling a chronic bowel condition.

But Caldwell has returned to Wigan with an injury and 33-year-old Miller is unlikely to start as the Vancouver Whitecaps striker is in the midst of his close season.

Strachan confirmed Caldwell's withdrawal was one of several from his squad, adding: 'He's left. Grant (Hanley) has left too, they did well to come up, they'd really been struggling.

'Ross McCormack has left, he's got some sort of bug but he made it up here which was terrific.

'Young James (Forrest) went back because I felt it might be too much to play two games back to back for him. So he's away to Celtic and they'll look after him there.'

The Scotland boss is more than willing to co-operate with Clydesdale Bank Premier League managers as all parties aim to minimise player fatigue.

'I spoke to a lot of managers recently and I'm trying to do the best for the group and the best for the managers,' he added. 'The team that is picked is the best one we can put out tomorrow.

New dawn: Strachan takes charge of his first international match at Pittodrie in Aberdeen

New dawn: Strachan takes charge of his first international match at Pittodrie in Aberdeen

'We're taking into consideration the last time they played, the conditions they played in and who'll be playing at the weekend.

'We'll try to help them and try to get something positive for ourselves.'

Strachan is preparing to make his debut as Scotland manager at the ground where he spent seven successful years as a player between 1977 and 1984.

Out: Gary Caldwell has returned to Wigan after picking up an injury

Out: Gary Caldwell has returned to Wigan after picking up an injury

He added: 'When I first got the job I thought 'wherever the first game is, it will be fantastic' but I think I've realised it's even more special that I'm going back to Aberdeen where I enjoyed smashing times with great players.

'I'm going back again 30-odd years later and the best wishes have been overwhelming, especially in Aberdeen. The people that I've met around this area recently have made it even more special.

'The group Craig (Levein) passed to me are a smashing bunch of players and sometimes they're over enthusiastic but we can always curtail that.'

Cristiano Ronaldo incredible hat-trick record for Real Madrid

Ronaldo has struck an incredible 19 HAT-TRICKS for Real Madrid since 2010… and his latest one is just perfect


August 28 – Zaragoza (A) League 24, 71, 87 (won 6-0) 63min
September 24 – Rayo Vallecano (H) 39, pen 51, pen 84 (won 6-2) 45min
October 22 – Malaga (A) 23, 28, 38 (won 4-0) 15min
November 6 – Osasuna (H) 23, pen 54, 58 (won 7-1) 35min
December 17 – Sevilla (A) 10, 41, pen 85 (won 6-2) 75min
February 12 – Levante (H) pen 45, 50, 57 (won 4-2) 12min
April 11 – Atletico Madrid (A) 25, 68, pen 83 (won 4-1) 58min

2012-2013
September 30 – Deportivo La Coruna (H) pen 23, 44, pen 84 (won 5-1) 61min
October 3 – Ajax (A) Champions League 42, 79, 81 (won 4-1) 41min
January 9 – Celta Vigo (H) Copa del Rey 3, 24, 87 (won 4-0) 84min
January 27 – Getafe (H) League 62, 65, pen 72 (won 4-0) 10min

How does Ronaldo's perfect hat-trick compare to these

Peter Crouch (Liverpool v Arsenal 2006/2007)

Jimmy Floyd Hasselbaink (Chelsea v Tottenham 2001-2002)

Joel Pohjanpalo (Perfect hat-trick in three minutes 19 seconds for HJK Helsinki)

WILL OLD TRAFFORD'S BOBBLY PITCH SLOW HIM DOWN

The inconsistent playing surface at Old Trafford has caused difficulties at times for Manchester United this season – so much so that Darren Fletcher has not been able to play on it.

But it could prove a blessing in disguise when Real Madrid – and ex-United star Cristiano Ronaldo – come calling in the Champions League next month.

The less-than-perfect pitch is coming towards the end of its lifespan – having been laid six years ago.

And it was again noticeable on Saturday, when large areas started cutting up during United's FA Cup tie with Fulham.

Muddy: The Old Trafford turf kicks up as Javier Hernandez shoots during the recent match with West Ham

Muddy: The Old Trafford turf kicks up as Javier Hernandez shoots during the recent match with West Ham

But it won't be re-laid until the summer – meaning Ronaldo and co will have to make the best of it as they try to get past United into the last eight.

Earlier this month, Sir Alex Ferguson said the surface had 'collapsed' and that it was so heavy, Fletcher, who was trying to make a return following a bowel condition, was unable to make progress.

Ferguson said: 'We have had six great years out of the pitch. Our groundsman, Tony Sinclair, has done a fantastic job. But it is looking tired now and I think we will have a new pitch in the summer.'

Manchester United players and WAGs at UNICEF charity gala

Manchester United stars suited and booted for charity dinner at Old Trafford

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UPDATED:

10:01 GMT, 20 December 2012

The stars of Manchester United were out in force on Wednesday night for the club's annual gala dinner.

Wayne Rooney and Rio Ferdinand fronted the star-studded cast arriving at Old Trafford for the dinner in aid of charity UNICEF.

Questioning: Rio Ferdinand is joined on stage by Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and co at Unted's gala dinner as they are interviewed by BBC political editor Nick Robinson

Questioning: Rio Ferdinand is joined on stage by Nemanja Vidic, Wayne Rooney and co at Unted's gala dinner as they are interviewed by BBC political editor Nick Robinson

Cheer up, Ryan: A rather glum looking Giggs poses for a picture with team-mates Rooney and Fletcher

Cheer up, Ryan: A rather glum looking Giggs poses for a picture with team-mates Rooney and Fletcher

Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney

Chris Smalling

Double act: Rio Ferdinand and Wayne Rooney strike a pose with Chris Smalling and partner Sam Cooke

Sir Alex Ferguson however was a notable absentee.

The United boss, whose secrets behind
his unrivalled success at Old Trafford were in part revealed following an
unprecedented study by Harvard University, didn't join his side at the
black-tie affair despite his name being mentioned on the official
invite.

Patrice Evra

Darren Fletcher

Suit you, sir: Patrice Evra and Darren Fletcher look the part as they arrive at the home of Manchester United

Happy: Hernandez shares a joke with Valencia while Cleverley, Young and Welbeck are all smiles (below)

Happy: Hernandez shares a joke with Valencia while Cleverley, Young and Welbeck are all smiles (below)

Happy: Hernandez shares a joke with Valencia while Cleverley, Young and Welbeck are all smiles (below)

The United boss is unlikely to be
happy that his side playing three games in seven days over the Festive
period starting with a tricky trip to Swansea on Sunday.

United will begin the tough run of games with a six-point cushion over rivals Manchester City as they
attempt to wrestle back the Premier League trophy to the red half of the
city.

SHINJI KAGAWA

Jonny Evans

Thumbs up: Shinji Kagawa (left) and Jonny Evans with his girlfriend Helen McConnell

In the swing: United veteran Ryan Giggs arrives at the star-studded evening at Old Trafford

In the swing: United veteran Ryan Giggs arrives at the star-studded evening at Old Trafford

Men in black: Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck pose for the assorted media

Men in black: Tom Cleverley, Ashley Young and Danny Welbeck pose for the assorted media

Nick Powell

Alexander Buttner

Picture perfect: Summer signings Nick Powell and Alexander Buttner with their respective partners

Lat year's gala raised 130,000 for
charity and some punters would have paid in excess of 3,500 a ticket
for last night's do which included a three-course meal, free bottle of
wine and a VIP drinks reception at the United museum, according to the
club's website.

Catherine Tyldesley

Catherine Tyldesley

Red Devil: Coronation Street actress Catherine Tyldesley arriving at Old Trafford for the gala dinner

PS United are always in the news… but what are you doing here, Nick

The evening was hosted by BBC political editor Nick Robinson – a lifelong Manchester United fan who is from Macclesfield

Holding the mic: Nick Robinson

Adel Taarabt outstanding in QPR win over Fulham – Jamie Redknapp

Taarabt may frustrate at times but he was outstanding in QPR victory over Fulham

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UPDATED:

22:30 GMT, 16 December 2012

My dad might go a bit over the top every now and then, but when he said it was one of the best individual displays he'd seen, it was hard to disagree!

Adel Taarabt may frustrate at times, but he has got genius feet. And he was in a position, just off Djibril Cisse, where he could cause maximum damage.

At the double: Taarabt scored twice in QPR's win over Fulham on Saturday

At the double: Taarabt scored twice in QPR's win over Fulham on Saturday

More from Jamie Redknapp …

Quiet, respectful but frightened to come down for dinner… Jamie Redknapp and Martin Keown give their verdict on Gerrard
13/11/12

Clattenburg controversy obscured a stunning day of football that shows why Premier League is still the best
29/10/12

Happy birthday, Wayne… but at 27, has the boy wonder Rooney lived up to the hype
24/10/12

We're turning into the Premier Liga! Redknapp and Keown analyse the season so far
08/10/12

What next After another quarter-final exit, Sportsmail discusses the future
25/06/12

Man City 1 Man United 0: The ultimate analysis on night City claimed high ground
01/05/12

Saturday debate: What was the greatest FA Cup semi-final for you
13/04/12

What happens next United were eight points clear but then came Wacky Wednesday
12/04/12

VIEW FULL ARCHIVE

Ferguson double up

It was a great weekend for the Fergusons. Sir Alex got three more points and Peterborough (managed by son Darren) pulled off the result of the weekend, with a win at Cardiff.

Their respective results will be the first they look for and they will be desperate for each other to succeed.

Jones a golden wonder

Phil Jones is pure gold. He's a utility player who reminds me of my old team-mate Steve Nicol. He is a great athlete, can tackle, burst forward, create and score.

Long-term, I see him as a centre half but I'm sure Sir Alex has his own ideas. England will also be interested in where he ends up. Now he needs to stay fit and get a run of games.

Christian soldiers on

What a player Christian Benteke is. He is such an all-rounder and you can play direct to him or little one-twos.

And huge credit to Paul Lambert. There have been question marks from some, but he's proving people wrong. He insists on playing the right way and outfoxed Brendan Rodgers.

Brace yourself: Benteke netted a double in Aston Villa's win over Liverpool

Brace yourself: Benteke netted a double in Aston Villa's win over Liverpool

Play the dynamic duo

Roberto Mancini needs to be selfish now and play Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez together all the time. That's 13 times they have started together and City have won them all.

Their movement is great so stick with them… it's not rocket science! It was a pivotal result for City and may give them the belief that they can retain their crown.

Sergio Aguero

Carlos Tevez

Double act: City have won 13 games when Aguero and Tevez have played together

Hear it for the Moyes

Although what Marouane Fellaini did was mindblowing, David Moyes went up even more in my estimation.

Some managers would insult our intelligence and say they didn't see it but he said Fellaini deserves everything he gets.

Mindblowing: The Belgian international lost his cool against Stoke

Mindblowing: The Belgian international lost his cool against Stoke

Centres of attention

A tale of two centre halves at Spurs. Swansea's Ashley Williams was superb. And to think he was a 400,000 signing from Stockport County. He's 28 and at his peak so top-four clubs may come circling.

And Jan Vertonghen, who netted 10 times for Ajax last season, is like a forward in the opposition box

Terry is much missed

Can you imagine that Corinthians goal being scored if John Terry was playing Whereas David Luiz, Ashley Cole and Ramires stood on the line like statues, JT would have been out in a split second to clear or at least get in a challenge.

Cristiano Ronaldo: Forget it Manchester City, United will win the title

Forget it City, United will win the title! Ronaldo cranks up title race by backing former boss

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UPDATED:

22:43 GMT, 24 November 2012

Cristiano Ronaldo has backed Manchester United to regain the Premier League title they lost last season to their neighbours Manchester City.

United came from behind again to beat QPR 3-1 on Saturday and go back to the top of the table, thanks to goals from Jonny Evans, Darren Fletcher and Javier Hernandez.

Backing United: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (right)

Backing United: Real Madrid's Cristiano Ronaldo (right)

Jamie Mackie put Rangers ahead in front of new manager Harry Redknapp, appointed yesterday on a two-and-a-half year contract, who was watching from the stands. But a three-goal burst in eight minutes was enough to take United above City.

While Sir Alex Ferguson dismissed suggestions that the Portugal superstar could one day return to Old Trafford as 'fanciful', Ronaldo still believes his former boss is on course to land his title No 13 in his 28th year in charge.

The Real Madrid forward confessed he is an avid watcher of Premier League football, insisting: 'It is the most competitive league in the world, in my opinion ahead of Spain. You have a lot of brilliant players and the league is so intense it's amazing. I watch it in my house every week.'

And while he believes there could be up to four clubs capable of finishing on top, he predicted another two-horse race, with the Manchester pair proving too strong for their rivals.

Back in town: Ronaldo returned to Manchester to face City

Back in town: Ronaldo returned to Manchester to face City

'I think United will do it this year and win their title back,' he said.

Ferguson enthused about Ronaldo's performance in Real's 1-1 Champions League draw with City and though the United manager took the opportunity to renew their old acquaintance and also his friendship with Jose Mourinho in the Spanish team's hotel before the game, the subject of a possible return to United never arose.

'He came to the hotel to speak with Mourinho and, of course, I spoke with him, too,' the player added.

'We didn't speak about that [returning to United]. We just spoke about his moment with Manchester United and mine with Real Madrid. We were just happy to see each other.

'I have enjoyed coming back to Manchester. When we arrived at the airport I was so happy. I had a beautiful story here in Manchester so it was nice to see all the fans and a few Manchester United shirts, too – I am always happy to be here.'

Manchester United 3 QPR 1 – match report

Manchester United 3 QPR 1: Redknapp watches Rangers throw it away as Fletcher scores on league comeback

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UPDATED:

17:19 GMT, 24 November 2012

Harry Redknapp left Old Trafford with plenty to ponder as Manchester United roared back to condemn QPR to the worst Premier League start any side has made after 13 games.

Rangers remain rooted to the foot of the table despite taking a second-half lead through Jamie Mackie.

Any hope Redknapp might have had of his new charges marking his installation as manager by recording their first win of the season evaporated with three United goals in a nine-minute burst.

Comeback kid: Darren Fletcher scored what proved to be the winner for Manchester United against QPR

Comeback kid: Darren Fletcher scored what proved to be the winner for Manchester United against QPR

MATCH FACTS

MAN UNITED: Lindegaard; Rafael, Evra, Ferdinand, Evans; Young (Anderson 59), Scholes (Hernandez 59), Fletcher; Rooney, Welbeck (Powell 79), Van Persie Subs not used: De Gea, Jones, Smalling, Cleverley.

Booked: Scholes

Goals: Evans 64, Fletcher 68, Hernandez 72.

QPR: Julio Cesar; Traore (Ferdinand 61), Hill, Nelsen, Derry; Taarabt (Hoilett 73), Dyer, Faurlin (Granero 84), M'bia, Cisse, Mackie Subs not used: Green, Diakite, Wright-Phillips, Ephraim.

Booked: Mbia.

Goals: Mackie 52.

Attendance: 75,603

Referee: Lee Probert (Wiltshire).

The latest Premier League results, fixtures and tables

Unlikely scoring hero Jonny Evans
grabbed another to pull the hosts level before Darren Fletcher found the
perfect way to mark his first Premier League start in a year.

Javier Hernandez bagged another to confirm United's status as leaders ahead of Manchester City's visit to Chelsea tomorrow.

Redknapp had seen enough, leaving
four minutes from the end to contemplate what he has already admitted
represents the biggest challenge of his managerial career.

/11/24/article-2237761-16311CCB000005DC-873_634x328.jpg” width=”634″ height=”328″ alt=”Watching on: Harry Redknapp, confirmed as QPR boss on Saturday morning, was in the stands” class=”blkBorder” />

Watching on: Harry Redknapp, confirmed as QPR boss on Saturday morning, was in the stands

Keep your seat warm: Mark Bowen took charge of the team following the sacking of Mark Hughes

Keep your seat warm: Mark Bowen took charge of the team following the sacking of Mark Hughes

If Redknapp, stationed alongside
chief executive Philip Beard in the directors' box, could enjoy his
break in positive mood, the notable United figures sat nearby, who had
stayed on from yesterday's Ferguson statue unveiling, would have been
less happy.

After successive defeats at Norwich and Galatasaray, the hosts should have been ready to tear at weakened opponents.

Instead, they pawed around in virtual disinterest.

Bright start: Jamie Mackie gave the bottom club a huge lift when he poked home early in the second half

Bright start: Jamie Mackie gave the bottom club a huge lift when he poked home early in the second half

Bright start: Jamie Mackie gave the bottom club a huge lift when he poked home early in the second half

Danny Welbeck produced cut-backs from
either flank for Robin van Persie and Wayne Rooney but neither marksman
could hit the target, and Ashley Young also sliced the ball into the
side-netting.

You would not have needed to be
around as long as Redknapp to understand being goalless at half-time
against a team managed by Ferguson counts for little.

On the previous 21 occasions United had been in such a position, 19 had ended in a home win.

Nevertheless, the confidence exuded
by Julio Cesar to step inside a Rooney challenge deep inside the
visitors' box suggested a large degree of confidence, either than or
insanity.

Yet, this season at least, as much a feature of United winning has been their concession of the first goal.

Comeback: Jonny Evans powered home an equaliser to spark United's revival

Comeback: Jonny Evans powered home an equaliser to spark United's revival

It had happened in their previous four games so it was no surprise they should fall behind again.

Defensively, they were supposed to be
getting stronger personnel wise. There was no evidence of it though as
United failed to read a short corner and then failed to prevent Kieron
Dyer getting down the by-line.

Then, after Anders Lindegaard had only been able to shove Dyer's low cross away from his goal, Mackie finished off.

Within minutes, Adel Taarabt had curled a free-kick narrowly over.

Head boy: Darren Fletcher, starting in the Premier League for the first time in a year, grabbed a goal

Head boy: Darren Fletcher, starting in the Premier League for the first time in a year, grabbed a goal

Head boy: Darren Fletcher, starting in the Premier League for the first time in a year, grabbed a goal

Ferguson took immediate action, hauling off Paul Scholes and Young in favour of Anderson and Javier Hernandez.

The change took a little while to have any discernable effect, but eventually, United brought themselves level.

Rooney spoke only yesterday about not
being bothered to relinquish some of the goalscoring responsibilities
he has carried since Cristiano Ronaldo's departure.

He cannot have expected Evans to have picked up the mantle.

Prior to this season, the Northern Irishman had only scored one United goal.

When he was on hand to turn home Welbeck's header from Rooney's corner, it was his third of the season.

That settles it: Javier Hernandez emerged from the bench to grab his team's third and final goal

That settles it: Javier Hernandez emerged from the bench to grab his team's third and final goal

That settles it: Javier Hernandez emerged from the bench to grab his team's third and final goal

If that goal was well received, the
one Fletcher got to put the hosts ahead from another Rooney corner
triggered an emotional reaction from the Scot.

It was Fletcher's first Premier
League goal since that derby-day mauling by Manchester City 13 months
ago, most of the intervening period he spent battling against a chronic
bowel complaint that threatened his career.

Hernandez was soon tucking home his
ninth of the season as QPR showed their brittle side again, completing a
disastrous nine-minute spell which underlined why they are in so much
trouble.

Clint Hill had a header cleared off the line by Rafael before the end, although by then, Redknapp had gone anyway.

Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie miss Manchester United trip to Galatasaray

Rooney and co dodge 'hell'… no wonder they were enjoying a laugh in United training as Fergie leaves out big names for Turkey trip

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UPDATED:

13:50 GMT, 19 November 2012

Sir Alex Ferguson has left out his big names for Manchester United's trip to Galatasaray – otherwise known as 'hell'.

A full 19 years after their infamous visit to Turkey – when they were given a fiery reception at the airport before entering the intimidating stadium – they make a return in the Champions League.

But Ferguson has opted to rest his key men, including Robin van Persie, Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra. Also missing are Ryan Giggs, Paul Scholes and David De Gea.

Instead, Ferguson has selected a youthful squad for the daunting trip.

All smiles: Wayne Rooney (left) and Paul Scholes mess around in training on Monday

All smiles: Wayne Rooney (left) and Paul Scholes mess around in training on Monday

All smiles: Wayne Rooney (left) and Paul Scholes mess around in training on Monday
United squad v Galatasaray

Sam Johnstone, Anders Lindegaard; Rafael, Alexander Buttner, Phil Jones, Tom Thorpe, Marnick Vermijl, Scott Wootton; Michael Carrick, Davide Petrucci, Larnell Cole, Tom Cleverley, Darren Fletcher, Anderson, Nick Powell, Ashley Young, Ryan Tunnicliffe; Javier Hernandez, Joshua King, Danny Welbeck, Federico Macheda.

So, it was no wonder that United's
stars were all smiles in training at Carrington on Monday as they were
given crucial time off with their passage to the knockout stages already
confirmed.

It would have been understandable if
the mood were sombre given the daunting prospect United face when they
come up against Galatasaray and their notorious fans on Tuesday night –
especially off the back of a humbling defeat to Norwich on Saturday.

United were greeted with banners reading 'welcome to hell' when they made their first visit to the Turkish capital in November 1993 – a night which saw hundreds of United fans arrested, Eric Cantona sent off and a mass brawl ensue after a 0-0 draw, and they can expect a similar reception on Tuesday night.

There are several reasons for United to be cheerful, however. They have never lost to the Turkish side over 90 minutes in five meetings, Galatasaray have not won at home in Europe since 2009, and both Rooney and goalkeeper De Gea trained with on Monday after missing the Norwich defeat.

Rooney missed the weekend defeat to Norwich with tonsillitis while De Gea was absent having had wisdom teeth removed.

Both were present at an open session ahead of their Champions League trip to Turkey to face Galatasaray on Tuesday night.

Gearing up: United face Galatasaray on Tuesday night

Gearing up: United face Galatasaray on Tuesday night

Gearing up: United face Galatasaray on Tuesday night

However, midfielders Shinji Kagawa and Nani and defender Jonny Evans – who have been struggling with knee, hamstring and groin injuries respectively – were all absent for the first 15 minutes of the session which was open to the media.

Watching manager Sir Alex Ferguson is likely to give a number of players a rest as United have already won their group to ensure progress to the knock-out stage.

Although they are through midfielder Michael Carrick has no intention of spending the week trying to work out who they may play next.

'You can drive yourself mad thinking about who you might get and all the various permutations,' he said.

'We just have to win our games, which we have done, and see what the draw gives us.

'Whoever it is, we will be ready in February.'

Welcome to hell: United are greeted with hostile banners back in 1993

Welcome to hell: United are greeted with hostile banners back in 1993

Brawl: Cantona (left) scuffles with Galatasaray players, leading to his dismissal

In recent years, United have done rather well in the knockout stages of the competition too, reaching three finals, a semi-final and a quarter-final on the last five occasions they have progressed beyond the group phase.

'That is the big test,' said Carrick.

'That is when the competition really comes alive.

'We have done the first part. The second one is when we get the really big European nights and we go away to the best places in Europe and win games.

'We have managed to do that very well over the past few years. Hopefully we can get back to that.'

Of course, all the success just made the shattering disappointment of exiting at the group stage last term all the more galling.

Cruising: United have won all four of their Champions League fixtures so far this season

Cruising: United have won all four of their Champions League fixtures so far this season

The transformation this time around could not be more marked.

Four wins from four games looks good, even if United have been behind in three of those matches and struggled to edge past Galatasaray in their first match, when an early Carrick goal did the damage.

'It is a happier place because of what we are doing in the Champions League,' he said.

'Last year we were chasing our tails a bit and came up short. This year we have been ahead of the game.

'Getting those wins and points on the board makes it an awful lot easier.'

Darren Fletcher says he is getting back to his best

I'm getting back to my best now, insists Man United star Fletcher

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UPDATED:

21:30 GMT, 24 October 2012

The year started with a dark shadow over Darren Fletcher’s playing career and a makeshift coaching role with the reserves.

Now, however, it looks like ending with him restored not only to full health but a pivotal role in Manchester United’s quest for European and domestic honours.

Struck down by debilitating ulcerative colitis, the Scotland midfielder wondered where his next game was coming from after being told last January he wouldn’t play again that season but could keep his hand in assisting reserve-team boss Warren Joyce.

On the ball: Darren Fletcher in Champions League action on Tuesday

On the ball: Darren Fletcher in Champions League action on Tuesday

Even in the summer, as his team-mates reported back for pre-season training, he wondered whether he would ever recapture the form and fitness that once made him a vital cog at the heart of United’s midfield.

Not any more. Doubts may have been raised about United’s defensive stability, after going 2-0 behind before rallying for a 3-2 Champions League win over Braga, but not about Fletcher nearing the end of a long, gruelling route back to peak condition.

He is not quite there yet, but the contented smile told its own tale, as he reflected on a full shift, just a month after launching his comeback as a substitute against Galatasaray.

‘I am back quicker than I expected, a lot quicker,’ he said. ‘Maybe experience helps with that. Perhaps you don’t have the sharpness in your legs yet, but in your mind, you have. You can react quicker because you have been in the situations before.

‘Anyway, I think my legs are coming back. I can feel it, and I really do feel great. If you had said I would be in this position back in June or July, playing a full 90 minutes in a Champions League tie, I wouldn’t have believed you.

‘But here I am, and it is all going well. It is quite hard to assess where I am up to, and if I am back to my old self. I feel fantastic, but when you have been out so long, it is going to take time before you are 100 per cent.

Back in the fold: Fletcher, (right, back row), with his team-mates

Back in the fold: Fletcher, (right, back row), with his team-mates

'The manager and I have spoken about that. But I feel I am closing in on it. Each game, each training session and each week I am feeling better and stronger. After all I have been through, it is great to be able to say that, and hopefully I will carry on getting stronger and stronger.’

Just to be involved again, to be back among his team-mates, on the pitch, in the dressing room, is giving him enormous satisfaction.

‘When you have been up against it, like I have, you are just happy to be making some sort of contribution,’ he said. ‘Of course, I want to be involved as much as I can. The more minutes under my belt and hours on the training pitch, the better it will be. That is going to help me improve drastically.’

Fletcher wishes to thank Sir Alex Ferguson for not only standing by him but believing in him. ‘I always had faith in myself,’ he said. ‘But it helps to hear the manager’s words of encouragement. That gives you extra confidence.

Bad start: United went 2-0 down against Braga

Bad start: United went 2-0 down against Braga

‘Do I appreciate time out in the middle even more now Well, I’ve always been one who did appreciate the game and how fortunate I have been to be part of things here.

‘But I think you do appreciate it all the more after going through something like this. Without a shadow of a doubt, you take it all in and savour every moment. It’s funny, because I was so desperate to get back playing, I had to be kept in check a bit. I couldn’t wait, but the manager told me I had to be patient, and all his staff made me fully aware of that.

‘When you have been out for a long time, you are desperate to play and maybe push yourself a bit too much. But I had good people around me, like the sports science staff, the manager, Warren Joyce.

‘They were there with the reins, and they would just hold me back. Deep down, I knew they were right, but it is hard when you just want to make up for lost time.’