The Stoke fans were singing about their hate for “Man U” even before kick off this afternoon, in what became the most venomous travelling support we’ve had for some time. Forget the scousers or the bitters, Stoke were there to abuse today, giving Cristiano Ronaldo a harder time than any other fans.
“Wanker! Wanker! Wanker!” were the deafening cheers whenever he was fouled or lost the ball. “Wanker, give us a wave, wanker, wanker, give us a wave!” got a couple of rounds, as well as songs about him being a cheat bastard and wanting to go to Real Madrid.
So, did it have the desired effect?
For a while, it looked like it might have done. Ronaldo still isn’t as sharp as he was last season, despite scoring more goals now than he had this time last year, and was clearly becoming frustrated by them.
He opened the scoring for us with just a few minutes played, a sensational freekick which seemingly made all the efforts we’ve seen come crashing back off the wall more worthwhile. But after that, he was on his arse far too often, Stoke playing a rougher came than he was comfortable with.
Still, Ronaldo kept trying, he persisted in bursting forward, and in the end his hard work paid off, scoring his second goal of the game just before the final whistle. There we have it, the worst abuse he has endured at home, but his 100th and 101st goal for the club. Cheers for giving him the incentive Stoke!
In contrast, Rory Delap’s long-throw, which United had been confident in dealing with before kick-off, had no impact whatsoever. Stoke didn’t have a single shot on target in 90 minutes and had just two shots off target, in what was arguably the most woeful performance we’ve seen from an away team this season.
The away corner rumbled as Delap prepared to take his first throw-in, but nothing came of it. “What the fuck, what the fuck, what the fucking hell was THAT?!” shouted the Stretford End. With every throw-in came another failed attempt to get a shot on target, with our question becoming louder and louder. By the end of the match, Delap didn’t even attempt to get the ball in to the box, opting for short throw-ins instead.
Stoke sang more songs about Ronaldo than they did in support of their own team, as well as the usual rounds of “We support our local team!”. It amazes me how original and clever away fans think they are in singing that chant. We hear it every week, and every week it is met with a sarcastic cheer. “You support a load of shite!” booms our Mancunian response. We forget that Mancs support City…
All in all, today was a good day. I haven’t been shy with my feelings on Ronaldo, however the more the opposition hate him, the more I feel the need to jump in to defend him. This is how he became so popular after the World Cup, I remember it well now. We took great pride in singing of how he made England look shite, and although I’ve still yet to be broken in with singing any Ronaldo songs this season, I am starting to wonder how long I can hold out.
Ronaldo got the last laugh and the angry Stoke fans, who are more intent on hating Ronaldo than they are on supporting their own team, were the mugs in the end. A big thanks for the entertainment though, as winning 5-0 feels all the better for being against a bunch of mouthy, small-time wankers like those lot who showed up today!