Man United roars back to beat lowly QPR
Newly hired QPR boss Harry Redknapp left Old Trafford with plenty to ponder as Manchester United roared back to win 3-1 on Saturday and condemn QPR to the worst Premier League start any side has made after 13 games.
Queens Park Rangers remains 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.
Javier Hernandez bagged another to confirm United's status as leaders ahead of Manchester City's visit to Chelsea on Sunday.
"We played for 10 or 15 minutes," said Ferguson. "That was the sum total of our real performance from Manchester United. Of course it is frustrating we keep ending up in that position but when they scored it definitely sparked us up."
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.
By halftime, Redknapp would have at least been able to content himself that he had something to work with.
Rangers players had a sense of purpose and stuck to their defensive duties with diligence, even though they were assisted by the lackluster nature of United's display.
Stand-in manager Mark Bowen might even have had a goal to celebrate after Mackie converted an excellent cross from Djibril Cisse, only for the effort to be ruled out by a tight offside call going against him.
Bowen launched a passionate defense of the departed Mark Hughes' managerial reign.
"People ask me what went wrong but when this club stayed up on the last day of last season, clubs like Southampton and Reading had a better squad than us," said Bowen. "They had players who had been together and had success together. At times we have been criticised for the number of players who have left. Not one player we have let go is anywhere near the Premier League now. We have brought good players into the club. I have seen it every day in training."
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.
You would not have needed to be around as long as Redknapp to understand being goalless at halftime 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 that or insanity.
Yet, this season at least, as much a feature of United winning has been its concession of the first goal. It had happened in United's previous four games so it was no surprise United should fall behind again.
Defensively, United was 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.
Ferguson took immediate action, hauling off Paul Scholes and Young in favor of Anderson and Javier Hernandez. The change took a little while to have any discernable effect, but eventually, United brought itself level.
Rooney spoke Friday 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.
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 its brittle side again, completing a disastrous nine-minute spell that underlined why the club is 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.
After the game, Ferguson confirmed winger Antonio Valencia would miss the West Ham game with a hip injury.
"Antonio has had a bit of pain there for the last couple of weeks," said Ferguson. "He has been playing with it but he never mentioned it. When we asked him, he said it was sore. It won't be too long. He should be ready for next week."
Information from Press Association was used in this report.