View from the press box: QPR away
How we’ve all missed away days with the fans. That was my main takeout from a visit to QPR's Kiyan Prince Foundation Stadium on Saturday, my first road trip to watch United since March's cup defeat at Leicester.
Of course the result will have disappointed Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, on a day his new United contract was announced, but it was another important work-out for the team after a solid week of training in Surrey.
Ole, his players and his staff will have noticed and appreciated the support that was provided by the raucous Red away end. It felt like a typical Premier League away matchday – a constant wall of noise as the travelling army sang their way through a brilliant repertoire of chants. ‘Take Me Home United Road’ and '20 Times' were two favourites that got a fair few airings.
Even when arriving at the stadium three hours before kick-off, you could feel the excitement amongst the supporters of both teams, who were milling outside the turnstiles. The fans included our very own ‘Little Devils’, Zac and Charlie, who interviewed Ole last week at our training camp and were decked out in the new TeamViewer home kit, ready to cheer on the team.
A group of us from the media team have spent the week covering the players’ pre-season exertions in Surrey and we were all looking forward to seeing the work on the training pitch being transferred into the stadium.
Matchday meant it was a huge operation for MUTV, with the club channel showing all of our pre-season games live. Huge outside broadcast trucks were parked on a street around the back of the ground, housing production teams and directors, while the press area provided yours truly with a brilliant view of the pitch and two other things we crave at an away game – great food and superfast wi-fi. Thank you, QPR, for ticking both boxes.
Those of us watching inside the stadium and live on MUTV witnessed a breathless start to the match, with two goals in the opening seven minutes. And United’s strike in the third minute was certainly a memorable one as Mason Greenwood and Facundo Pellistri linked brilliantly to slip Jesse Lingard through on goal and he finished with aplomb. The lead lasted only four minutes unfortunately as Charlie Austin headed home Yoann Barbet’s excellent cross from the left.
United were looking strong in attack with an incredibly pacey forward line, but QPR weren’t about to let up after equalising and the Reds’ backline was forced into some important defending as the half drew on.
A raft of half-time subs followed before the hosts fully turned the game on its head inside the opening quarter of the second half. Three goals in seven minutes from Lydon Dykes – twice – and Moses Odubajo flipped the scoreline dramatically. Of course it’s only pre-season but being 4-1 down will not have pleased Ole and his coaching staff, but this squad have shown many times that we never give up, even in a friendly match.
More changes followed for both sides and there was hope when one of our subs, Anthony Elanga, pulled a goal back for us on 74 minutes to make it 4-2. However, QPR held out for a win and it was one their home fans certainly enjoyed. The United supporters, I'm sure, will also have been upbeat just to be there and support the team in person, something that has still only happened a handful of times in the last 16 months.
It's such a buzz to be back among our fellow fans at live games. Old Trafford awaits next for the Reds – on Wednesday night against Brentford - and it's another game that we're all looking forward to. We love our away days, but there’s no place quite like home.