FOOTBALL NEWS

18/12/2011 14:30, Report by Steve Bartram
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Central strength was key

Sir Alex Ferguson praised his side's strength in central areas after a comprehensive, controlled victory over Queens Park Rangers.

The central defensive pairing of Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans were immovable, while midfield cohorts Michael Carrick and Phil Jones set the Reds' tempo en route to an invaluable win at Loftus Road.

"We could have scored a lot of goals today," the boss told MUTV. "The one good thing that comes out of today is that Queens Park Rangers in their home games have been a real problem to a lot of teams, but we kept them quiet for most of the game and we played some terrific football at times.

"When Michael Carrick scored that second goal I think that put it to bed. He's supposed to sit in the middle of the pitch. I'll maybe have to fine him! But he's right bang on form, Michael, he's been terrific in the last few weeks and we're pleased with that.

"Phil is only 19 years of age but he's got tremendous potential and he has great energy. You saw today, he's up and down the pitch making fantastic runs through the middle, he could have scored two or three today. He hit the post, the goalkeeper made a good save, his energy is really important to the team at the minute."

After a sixth away clean sheet of the season, the Evans-Ferdinand also drew praise for quelling the hosts' aerial threat and giving Neil Warnock's side short shrift in their efforts to reignite the contest. "Jonny and Rio were terrific, Rio's experience is so important," said Sir Alex. "I don't think David (De Gea) had a real save to make. The two of them were immense."

The victory temporarily put the Reds ahead of Manchester City at the head of the Barclays Premier League table, but the manager insists his short-term aim is merely to be in the mix when 2011 makes

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