Match Report: Stoke City 2-1 Manchester United

Stoke City 2 Manchester United 1

Certain Liverpool fans like to amuse themselves at the moment by claiming that the current United season is payback for the expiry of Ferguson’s two decade pact with the devil. While such comments inevitably tell us more about the somewhat restricted mental capacity of those fans (at least some of whom actually appear to take them seriously), it would explain a lot about this defeat at Stoke. While United fans will rightly point to a highly disappointing inability to see off the relegation fodder Stoke undoubtedly are, two defensive injuries in the first half, a deflected goal, a failure of the ref to show a clear red to a Stoke player and a long period at the end of the game in which United failed to convert the many opportunities they created might lead some of us to conclude there’s some credence to the observation. That a former Liverpool player should also be responsible for both goals added further salt to an already very painful wound.

United had the best of the play throughout, although struggled to create chances when playing with a heavy wind to their backs in the first half. The best was a fine cross from Evra that was met by Rooney, whose shot went just wide. Whatever limited chances Stoke produced were coming from the right, where Walters, who would have a crucial part to play in the game in several respects, managed to get in a series of crosses, though the conditions rendered such an approach futile and his efforts came to nothing. United had a chance to score on 28 minutes when Van Persie’s header was glanced out of play by the head of Whelan and, although such chances were few and far between, it was very much against the run of play when Stoke took the lead, Charlie Adam trying his luck with a free kick from forty yards. It ought to have been harmless but the kick struck Carrick’s knee and looped into the goal with De Gea stranded.

In one sense it was an unlucky break, especially as the free kick was awarded for a foul from Smalling that appeared to involve very little contact, but equally a player of Carrick’s experience ought not to have placed himself in such a position. He soon found himself called out of the midfield, after Phil Jones suffered a nasty injury in a clash of heads with Walters and was carried off. With Rafael already on for Evans, it meant Carrick taking up a place in central defence with Rooney moving back into midfield.

United responded early in the second and it’s to be hoped it will be a taste of what’s to come, Mata’s sublime pass putting in Van Persie who finished with style. Stoke came straight back, however, through another effort from range from Charlie Adam, a piledriver into the top corner that this time needed no deflection to give De Gea no chance.

United ought to have had the advantage of an extra man when a two-footed challenge from John Walters caught Chris Smalling in the United box. Walters came off worse, and had to leave the field through the injury incurred, but there was no question that the laws of the game demanded a straight red. United increased the pressure as the game went on and, although Stoke occasionally threatened on the break, largely set up camp outside the home penalty area. Mata was brought into a central area and played a series of exquisite passes into the box, all of which United’s forwards failed to make use of . The best effort came from Rooney, whose excellent free kick was pushed onto the bar from Begovic. From the rebound, Tom Cleverley appeared onto to need to prod the ball goalwards, but he blasted his shot high over the bar.

In the context of another season, this might have been written off as one of those things that an happen at the Britannia stadium. In this one, it will remove a lot of the optimism that’s build up among supporters on the back of the Mata signing. With Spurs dropping points, a win here would have allowed the Reds to take a much-needed step closer to those European places. As it is, we once again lose ground and, although there have certainly been worse United performances this season, that’s of little comfort given the importance of getting the points at this stage of the season.

9 Comments

  1. What a bitter and twisted little man you are. Get used to your current position because it will be a long time before you are back at the top table.

  2. I like your article, it reflects what happened at Stoke clearly, but I have this to say as a generalisation of our season so far and I say this as a season ticket holder who supports David Moyes, and who goes to every league and cup match with my three sons. I believe we will make some headway towards the Champions League qualification places and even achieve it but it’s like wading through mud and so frustrating watching us at the moment. I find Moyes’ team selection strange at least and clueless at worst.
    So I ask, why has Zaha gone out on loan again and why wasn’t he given a run in the team ahead of Young, in fact what does Young contribute really, okay a couple of spectacular goals but come on he’s a waste of a shirt. Why do we keep swapping and changing our line-up, injuries apart. Giggs was picked against Cardiff and then Cleverly brought in against Stoke when Fletcher was doing a decent job and returning to form. Why has Januzaj suddenly been dropped to the bench and why has Chic been overlooked for so many matches until the game is almost over. Surely Moyes must know his best eleven and surely that eleven would not include Giggs, Cleverly and definitely not Young!!!! A consistent team, injuries apart, will reap rewards it’s common sense.
    The other thing that niggles me is why we never made more moves in the transfer window during January. We were tied with so many big names, so a couple of bids might have signalled our intentions in overhauling a very ordinary looking squad albeit boosted by some star players. The signing of Mata was a major coup but we need three more of his ilk and they will come if given the opportunity.
    This is not a rant of a disillusioned fan, I’m just frustrated by what I see and I don’t want a return to the dark days of the early 1970s or the bland football of the Sexton era. We are capable of greatness with some tinkering, but let’s start with a settled team containing the best eleven available players.

  3. As usual Manure supporters try to blame everyone else for their defeats, e.g. the ref added a couple of extra minutes etc. etc., and now it’s the Liverpool supporters that are to blame, and you dare to question the mental capacity. Grow up you silly child. You lost to a better side on the day you have gotten away with more than enough bad decisions from officials so don’t complain when things rarely go against you.

  4. moyes-should-settle-for-the-best-eleven-team.-it-was-an-an-irony-watching-my-darling-team-strugle-for-top-four-place-sir-Alex-should-have-build-a-solid-team-for-us-before-retireing.-the-board-should-do-someting-before-we-find-ourself-in-the-religation-water.

  5. Yet Again a Moyes post match comment:unlucky,played well,did,nt finsh them off.Bullshit,how many times have we heard it now,even though they were unlucky with an own goal and two injuries.Just think that it cant only be the players that are not sharp enough but also the tactics that are wanting.Stoke being just a lowly physical side showed that with a super effort can win over sides that just play well.

  6. OK,putting the boot in on players and Moyes and tactics is all understandable.Whatever happens,,new players or manager,
    its gonna be around this time NeXT year to judge Man U.IF like
    ManC,United can get 6-7 attacking players in all areas
    Things might change.

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