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LOUIS IS ONE LUCKY FELLA; BARCLAYS PREMIER LEAGUE QPR 0 MANCHESTER UNITED 2; Moyes man rescues Van.

Byline: ANDY DUNN VERDICT FROM LOFTUS ROAD

THE irony cannot have been lost on Louis van Gaal.

Marouane Fellaini - the stick so often used to thrash and torture David Moyes - spared the Dutchman a rebellion.

Because make no mistake, that is what was in the West London air ahead of Fellaini's intervention ...and the whiff did not come from the natives.

Manchester United have one of football's most raucously supportive away followings yet the dissent was drifting down from the stands long before Fellaini's handsome hit and James Wilson's sign-off harvested victory.

The fans' indulgence of Van Gaal - his philosophy and his back three on his A4 notepad - was coming to an end.

"Attack, attack, attack," they implored as United dawdled through a dreadful first half. "Four! Four! Two!" But no wonder a wry post-match smile occasionally interrupted Van Gaal's 12-yard stare.

An elevated position defies his team's mediocrity, likely Champions League qualification belies the humdrum fare, one defeat in 12 Premier League games laughs at those taking tactical potshots.

When they lie in that Champions League slot without ever lifting backsides from seats, no sane critic would start without wondering just how impressive this United squad can become.

It is already an achievement of some proportion to be so well-stationed playing such turgid and uninspiring football. Sometimes, it is eye-rubbingly difficult to believe how laborious this Van Gaal team is - head-scratchingly baffling to see such an array of talent operate so ponderously.

His possession obsession produces a glut of negativity, backpasses proliferate. Too often, the ball is shifted around with all the zip of a toddler joining up the dots.

And Phil Jones taking corners? Discuss. Then comes the crux of that matter. Three at the back.

Surely only Van Gaal is convinced this system can suit his personnel. As the punters protested, it was probably only a matter of time before the players followed suit.

Precious commodities have been made to look base by this particular Van Gaal The freedom of expression - not to mention the two goals - that arrived with Fellaini and Wilson and the eventual change to a back four could hardly have been coincidental.

It was still not overly convincing and you have to bear in mind this was against a QPR team singularly lacking in pace and flair and doing a fine, lumbering impression of relegation certainties.

But there is no doubt this United squad has enough gifted individuals to eventually join the City-Chelsea party.

Not this season, probably, but certainly next. Although Radamel Falcao (right) repeatedly refused to raise a goalscoring finger in Van Gaal's direction - missing a couple of sitters with the help of Rob Green - he looked sharp.

Still not sharp enough - and certainly not clinical enough - to persuade you to part with PS44million perhaps but a persistent threat.

Michael Carrick remains a pillar of elegant reliability, Antonio Valencia is unassumingly efficient and Fellaini was excellent in his 45 minutes - swinging the game in United's favour with a match turning goal. David de Gea now has such a deep well of confidence, he is prepared to make routine work look flamboyant - two saves to deny Charlie Austin filed in that category.

Leaving aside the back-three debate, Van Gaal must also address the way to get PS59m worth out of Angel di Maria.

Playing in a deeper midfielder role has to be the speedier way forward.

Plenty of questions still for Van Gaal - the man who has been given such an easy ride is still some way from easy street.

But maybe his famed stubbornness softening. Because this was a day when the people spoke... and Louis listened.

MATCH REPORT: SEE PULL-OUT

CAPTION(S):

RED ALERT: James Wilson celebrates his goal with Angel di Maria and Michael Carrick

IN THE NICK OF TIME: Fellaini fires home United's opener, just as the fans were starting to lose patience with boss Louis van Gaal
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Title Annotation:Sport
Publication:Sunday Mirror (London, England)
Date:Jan 18, 2015
Words:650
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