Stoke City - Stoke down but not out
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Man Utd 5 - Stoke City 0

Old Trafford

15th November 2008

Attendance: 75,369

Stoke down but not out

As I walked towards Old Trafford I was asked what I thought the score would be. Whilst any Stoke fan would say that dreams are made of a Potters' win and a point would be magic, realism made me reply by saying that I just hoped we wouldn't be thumped and that I could say that we gave the European champions a run for their money. As it was, we did get thumped on the pitch with some classic goals - two from the one person you hoped wouldn't score, but you just knew would - Ronaldo. But off the pitch, there was no doubt who won. The travelling Potters' fans sang their hearts out throughout and comfortably drowned out the 72,000 visiting tourists packing the rest of Old Trafford.

Stoke were always on the back foot after Ronaldo's 3rd minute free kick from the edge of the penalty area was not seen to by Thomas Sorensen. After that we recovered some composure that allowed us to deal with the Red threat until seconds before half-time, just as Tony Pulis would have been planning to regroup whilst just 1-0 down. But those plans were shattered with the strike from Carrick and United were clinical just four minutes into the restart with a third from Berbatov.

Now 3-0 down, heads did drop and even Stoke's potent weapon in Rory Delap was of little use with little space around the pitch to give the midfielder enough room for a decent run-up much to the faintly audible relief of the few vocal Old Trafford faithful.

I'd have taken a 3-0 defeat on the chin and moved on to West Brom next weekend, but the two final goals from United youngster, Danny Welbeck on 84 minutes and a final one from that man Ronaldo again, with just a couple of minutes remaining, really just reminded us of the gulf that there is between those clubs coming up from the Championship and the likes of the League Champions.

A fifth (and unlucky) booking of the season for Ricardo Fuller means that he will miss the West Brom match next week, but with the Jamaican now away on international duty and only due back on Saturday morning, he was always extremely doubtful for a starting position, so maybe the booking can be considered somewhat fortuitous.

Still, this was never a match we would have ever have had pencilled in for points, but with two consecutive home games coming up against the Baggies and Hull City, we should expect quite different performances from this Stoke team.

Man Utd: Van der Sar, O'Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra, Ronaldo, Carrick, Fletcher (Gibson 63), Park (Welbeck 63), Tevez (Manucho 74), Berbatov.
Subs not used: Foster, Anderson, Nani, Rafael Da Silva.

Stoke City: Sorensen, Griffin (Wilkinson 79), Abdoulaye Faye, Shawcross, Higginbotham, Olofinjana (Cresswell 31), Diao, Amdy Faye, Delap, Fuller (Kitson 68), Sidibe
Subs not used: Simonsen, Cort, Whelan, Tonge.

Star Player

Ryan Shawcross was certainly not overawed by his first return to Old Trafford since leaving last year for the brighter lights of Stoke on Trent. Danny Higginbotham - another graduate of the Red's Academy along with Danny Pugh - also had a good game under the circumstances.

The Journalist

Writer: Chris Baldwin Mail feedback, articles or suggestions

Date:Sunday November 16 2008

Time: 7:00PM

Your Comments (oldest first)

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welcome to the harsh realities of life with the big boys!
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16/11/2008 19:03:00

A fair summary of the match and you echo my feelings, Chris. I enjoyed the day though and it was good to hear my fellow 3,000 Stokies outsing the other 72,000 in the stadium which was almost as quiet as the old Highbury Library. I don't think I would still be a football follower if I had to watch home games with such a silent majority. I'm sure the Old Trafford of my youth in the 60s and 70s was a louder, albeit smaller, place. Merlin - our future (if we have one) with the "big boys" will not depend upon days like Saturday. The next two games against Hull and the Baggies, plus the odd unexpected points like those 3 against Arsenal, are the sort of games which will determine our fate.
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16/11/2008 21:04:00

A sign of things to come i think, your boys were simply not good enough and it showed. These type of games wont determine your fate at the end of the season but leaking 5 goals will have an effect, it wont come down to GD but conceding 5 isnt good for confidence.
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17/11/2008 14:59:00


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