Manchester United will give debuts to a posse of new players, including Radamel Falcao, when they attempt to kickstart their flatlining Premier League season against Queens Park Rangers on Sunday.
Falcao was the headline acquisition of United’s £150 million ($244 million, 188 million euros) close-season splurge and is expected to get his first run-out at Old Trafford following his loan move from Monaco.
Fellow new signings Marcos Rojo, Daley Blind and Luke Shaw are also in line to make their debuts, the latter having overcome a hamstring problem, while record-signing Angel di Maria will make his first home appearance.
United’s need for reinforcements was emphasised by a disappointing start to the season in which they failed to record a win in their first three league games and were bundled out of the League Cup by third-tier Milton Keynes Dons.
With players such as Robin van Persie, Juan Mata and captain Wayne Rooney also at his disposal, manager Louis van Gaal now faces a challenge to accommodate all of his star names in his preferred 3-4-1-2 formation.
But he says that the competition for places at Old Trafford is a dilemma that every manager would like to have.
“For a coach, it is always easy because he can decide,” the Dutchman told his weekly press conference on Friday.
“He decides always what he sees. I don’t have any worries about that because I have done that already, for more than 25 years.
“You always want to buy the best players for the positions. I think we have done very good in the transfer window. Despite not being in the Champions League, the players are coming to United.
“We have to produce results, and have to start that on Sunday against QPR.”
– Rio reunion –
While Van Gaal has declared 19-year-old left-back Shaw “fit enough to play, but not to start”, he will definitely be without Phil Jones.
The versatile defender tore his hamstring on international duty with England in Switzerland and will be out for up to a month.
United also remain without Chris Smalling, Michael Carrick, Marouane Fellaini and Ashley Young, as well as youth-team graduates James Wilson, Sam Johnstone, Reece James and Jesse Lingard.
But right-back Rafael da Silva and close-season signing Ander Herrera are available again after overcoming injuries.
There will also be novelty in the QPR ranks, with new signings Sandro, Niko Kranjcar and Eduardo Vargas all in contention to make their debuts.
Like United, Harry Redknapp’s side are without a win after three matches, but with three draws to their name, the West London club go into the game a point above their opponents.
The match will be particularly poignant for QPR centre-back Rio Ferdinand, who moved to Loftus Road on a free transfer in July after a trophy-laden 12-year spell at United.
Asked how he felt about his return to the scene of some of his greatest triumphs, the 35-year-old told the BBC: “Emotional, really.
“I had great years there. I had some really good times there. I never got a chance to say bye when I left, which was unfortunate, so it’ll be a nice opportunity to say bye to a lot of the people who supported me.”
Falcao arrives in England with a fearsome reputation, having scored 200 goals in 305 games during his club career, but Redknapp does not believe Ferdinand will be unduly worried by the prospect of facing the Colombian.
“He is a fantastic footballer and facing Falcao will be seen as a challenge; nothing to be frightened of,” Redknapp told The Sun.
QPR midfielder Joey Barton will undergo a late fitness test prior to the game after sustaining a hamstring strain. – Agence France-Presse