London: Manchester United provisionally reclaimed top spot in the Premier League after exposing the size of the task facing Harry Redknapp at Queens Park Rangers by beating the bottom-place team 3-1 on Saturday.
Jamie Mackie put QPR ahead at Old Trafford, where Redknapp was watching from the stands hours after replacing the fired Mark Hughes.
But the west London team failed to secure its first win of the season, with Jonny Evans equalising before Darren Fletcher and Javier Hernandez scored to put United back on the winning path after losing at Norwich last weekend.
United are now two points ahead of Manchester City, but the defending champions are at Chelsea on Sunday.
West Bromwich Albion dislodged Chelsea from third by keeping up their flying start to the season with a 4-2 victory at Sunderland.
While West Brom celebrated their fourth successive win, United halted a run of back-to-back losses.
But like so often this season, Alex Ferguson’s side had to fight back from a losing position.
Seven minutes into the second half, Anders Lindegaard turned Kieron Dyer’s low cross away from his goal and Mackie put the ball into the net from close range.
“It’s not great,” Fletcher said. “The only positive is we keep coming back — we cannot allow it to keep happening.”
The game turned in United’s favour only after Paul Scholes and Ashley Young were replaced by Anderson and Javier Hernandez.
It was defender Jonny Evans, though, who equalised. The Northern Ireland international nodded Danny Welbeck’s header from Wayne Rooney’s corner into the net in the 64th to claim his third goal of the season.
Four minutes later, Fletcher scored his first league goal since recovering from a chronic bowel complaint that threatened his career, heading in another corner from Rooney.
Hernandez claimed his ninth of the season before United defender Rafael da Silva cleared Clint Hill's header off the line.
“I would tell the fans: ‘Don’t lose faith’,” said QPR coach Mark Bowen, who temporarily took charge of the team as Redknapp watched from the directors’ box.
“The quality is there but everything is conspiring against us at the moment. It’s individual errors which are costing us rather than team errors.”