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Reactions To Victory Over Stoke

1. The whispers that United had lost their bottle following the unjust defeat at the hands of Real Madrid have become louder and louder as the weeks have gone on. We went 2-0 up against Chelsea in the FA Cup, only to go on to be grateful to force a replay following an abysmal second half. Then we endured an unconvincing 1-0 win at home against Reading, who are at the bottom off the league, before beating Sunderland away thanks to an off target Robin van Persie shot being deflected in off Titus Bramble. We then bowed out of the FA Cup after a 1-0 defeat at Stamford Bridge before losing 2-1 at home on derby day. All in all, it hasn’t been a very good few weeks for United so it was understandable that plenty of fans felt nervous ahead of our trip to the Britannia. Stoke are really struggling this season and may very well go down but we’re usually given a tough game by them at their place. The relief of coming away with all three points and a fifteen point lead, for now at least, is huge. Well done lads.

2. Whilst I imagine the fans will vote Robin van Persie as the player of the season, it wouldn’t be too surprising if the players deem Michael Carrick worthy of the award, and I genuinely hope that is the way they vote. His popularity amongst the supporters has grown massively this season and that is largely thanks to his ability to drag us through games when our other central midfielders are struggling for form. Paul Scholes has been injured for months, whilst Tom Cleverley and Anderson have rarely managed to play well in consecutive games. Carrick has played at a consistently high level though and always looks so composed. If you enjoy stats, there’s evidence to support the controlling influence he has on the game too. He has attempted 100 passes on six occasions this season, a record only Arteta betters with nine. When looking at Europe’s top five leagues, Carrick features amongst the players with the most average passes per game, with Xavi on 98.9, Arteta on 85.5, Pirlo on 80.4, Yaya Toure on 80.3, Busquets on 79.1 and Carrick on 76.2. So, it was rather fitting that Carrick, who has been so important for us this season, scored the opening goal in such a crucial game. Stoke failed to deal with a Van Persie corner and Carrick managed to get a toe to it to take some of the pressure off early on. It won’t be winning any awards for it’s quality but it is certainly one of our more important goals this season.

3. Whilst it is Carrick that usually dominates our passing, he was rivalled by a new midfield partner yesterday in Wayne Rooney. Gary Neville named Wazza as our man of the match, which despite me not agreeing with I can certainly understand, as he adjusted to the new role with ease. Upon hearing the starting line-up, with Van Persie, Rooney, Chicharito and Kagawa all familiar with more forward roles, you had to wonder what position they would all be playing in. Rooney’s passing range means he is more than capable of playing this position, as his willingness to work hard for the team and get involved defensively. He attempted and completed more passes than anyone else on the pitch (66, with a passing accuracy of 82%) and also completed more final third passes than any of our other players (13). It is clear he would be more comfortable with a more attacking role but he showed he was a good option for us in this position.

4. Following a great display against City in the centre of defence, Phil Jones was my man of the match at right back yesterday. He’s starting to produce some of the displays that made him so popular with our fans when he first joined and that is great to see. He’s only just turned 21-years-old and has a great future ahead of him.

5. The game was put to bed with 25 minutes left to play when a great attack lead by Jones, Valencia and Rooney resulted in Van Persie winning a stonewall penalty. With so much being made of how long our Dutchman has gone without a goal the pressure was on him but he had no problems from the spot. You could see how much the goal, his 20th league goal of the season, meant to him when he wheeled off in celebration. I’m struggling to recall a time when a player has dashed over to the hug the manager after scoring. It’s certainly something none of the players in this team do. He didn’t stop there though, celebrating with the coaching staff and bench too. It’s a joy to see a player who is just so happy to be at your club and so willing to do well. If we win our games against West Ham and Villa, and if City drop a point against Wigan, Spurs or West Ham, it would mean we would go to the Emirates as champions, with Van Persie receiving a guard of honour from his former team mates on his first visit to North London since joining us. Fingers crossed.

6. During the 15th minute of the game Stoke fans started a minute’s applause. It seemed as though they were the only ones that knew what it was for though. Something to do with Maggie Thatcher who died last week? Something to do with Steven N’Zonzi, who wears their #15 shirt? It was only after a bit of Googling that I came across an article on 14-year-old Stoke fan Kameron Bourne who sadly passed away last weekend. Apparently the minute’s applause was for him, but the commentators were left as puzzled as our away fans. “What the fucking hell was that?” our fans chanted when they were finished, which lead to Stoke fans singing Munich songs and doing their aeroplane impressions. It was all very odd. It should have been expected though, considering they were taking pictures of themselves outside the local boozer ahead of kick-off with “Munich bastard” banners.

7. The difference a strong defence makes to our team is huge. It’s great to see Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic starting more regularly, particularly against tall and physical sides like Stoke. David de Gea was left with little to do as our defence warded off any danger. It is this foundation we need to work from in the remaining few games so hopefully we can avoid any more injuries at the back.

8. United didn’t set the world alight with the performance but they got the job done, which is a huge relief. Following weeks of substandard performances and results, to leave the Britannia with all three points, a ground where City, Arsenal and Everton all drew, felt brilliant. We’ve now had 18 different goalscorers and 17 different players with assists this season; both league-highs. We needed to stop the rot and kill any possible hopes City might have of retaining the title. This trophy is ours and the momentum is with our players now. The sooner we get it wrapped up the better.


About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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23 Comments

  1. Costas says:

    No doubt, Carrick has been our player of the season.

  2. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Highpoint: Carricks goal, well deserved that for his incredible commitment this season.
    Lowpoint: Anything to do with Stoke. Hope they fall.

    Funniest: Watching Sir Alex try to kill Robin van Persie jumping into the poor lads arms. Boss must be 17+ stone. Oi me! That was good though! ;)

  3. FletchTHEMAN says:

    Also:
    Victory over Stoke was Sir Alex Ferguson’s 900th win (60.28%) at Manchester United.
    Also Fergies 526th win in EPL (65%) and 623rd in English top flight footy.

  4. parryheid says:

    Important win to get us back on track.Easy win

  5. MUFC M41 says:

    That 3 points really settled the nerves.

    I was there yesterday and the Munich taunts were disgusting. They are just a bunch of inbreds who dont know better.

    Good away end…again.

  6. denton davey says:

    Scott: “a new midfield partner yesterday in Wayne Rooney. Gary Neville named Wazza as our man of the match, which despite me not agreeing with I can certainly understand, as he adjusted to the new role with ease.”

    No question – if TheWayneBoy is going to continue at UTD then not only is this his future but it makes space for Chicharito/KagawaBunga/DannyTheLad since RVP is “untouchable” for the time-being. Furthermore, it seems to me that if SAF concentrates on re-building a midfield with TheWayneBoy, MC16, MrJones and YoungTom then there are options a-plenty – Rooney/Jones or Jones/Cleverley, etc.

    The key thing about TheWayneBoy is that he’s a “baller” first and foremost. To my way of thinking, the criticisms/doubts that he doesn’t have the knowledge/patience/experience to play in midfield are just non-sense.

    see also, http://m.espn.go.com/soccer/story?storyId=1413269

  7. Nati says:

    We no longer play entertaining football. We have become just a winning team. I am not complaining about the winning but I would love to shut the people who tell me we are boring to watch.

    Why are we playing long balls all the time, what happened to the pass pass game of ours??

  8. Heywood Red says:

    Horses for courses Nati. Its most important to win. I don’t think fergie ever sets out to
    Be boring but we’ve got to grind out wins at the minute. We’ve had wingers before who can entertain
    And drive the ball forward, bow we got Young who checks back every time he goes forward,
    Valencia who lacks conviction and Nani who seems to suffer with lack of belief. I reckon next
    Year with a season under there belt together, rooney kagawa and van persie will have a better
    Understanding and well probably score few more

  9. wayne says:

    Away at Stoke wind blowing all over the place Utd needing 3 pts to steady the ship,what did you expect the Harlem Globetrotters you daft cunt.Utd at the start of the season were playing the most entertaining football in years and were getting slagged off for letting in to many goals,now they’ve tightened up and are winning games 1 or 2 nothing getting slagged off for being boring,fuck me can’t have it both ways.

  10. 2Coats of RED says:

    With seasoning into a ball winning CM who can also link the attack, I see an indefinite future at OT for wazza. A few threads back I posited this very role for him so I’m glad Fergie put him there against a team like Stoke as a trial. Their game is not technical and they gave him some time on the ball.But he’ll have to improve his conditioning no doubt to prevent fatigue from all the running, especially against sides who press higher up the pitch. I truely believe this new role will suit him fine…Still would welcome Matic into the fold if rumors are true.
    I am confident #20 is ours now, but I also never thought we would piss away our lead in the standings either. This team is focused and it simply isn’t in the cards to mimick last year’s run in.
    “What the Fucking hell was that?” It’s the sound of United pissing on Pool. OUR perch is about to grow one story higher

  11. Moringe says:

    Michael ” the passmaster Carrick”,,the man who can put out fire before they start. Always loved him,from his very first game against charlton if am not mistaken and his assist the baby face assassin Solskjaer,,or when he launched a pass/cross to Wazza against bolton..it makes me happy to see him gettin the credit he deserves now.
    @ Nati I hear what u sayin,wuld be nice to watch a united game and not hearin the words borin from our haters,,but based on the way this season has been goin,wuld prefer any kind of win n wrappin the title asap,,and then shift the focus on next season where am hopin for a number of personel changes

  12. itachi uchiha says:

    I was too puzzled when stoke city fans started applause, but then doing their fans started doing aeroplane gestures. that was sick , I hope thrash them 5 nil when we play them again

  13. Chicho the Lesbo says:

    Chicho kicked their guy in the face as an FU for the airplane gestures. At least I’d like to think so.

  14. mufc m41 says:

    Spot on Wayne

  15. Gaffer says:

    bring on hammers

  16. Warwick says:

    We cemented a good solid win at Stoke. I felt Jones has had 2 really good games and was my man of the match. Good to see Wayne developing a new role – he seemed cool and confident about directing the midfield flow

  17. James7t7 says:

    I wouldnt say lost our bottle.. But we most certainly have lost “something” after the Real Madrid game and it is sad to see as we are usually so good at recovering. Being so far in front has merely cost us the cup and an embarrasment against the berties.

    Hopefully the wobble has been stabilised but now is the time to kick on.. Put in some championship winning performances rather than the “just do enough” nature of our current play. There is still some banana skins… So lets get the job done sooner rather than later!

    GGMU!

  18. jassim says:

    DE GEA PLAYER OF THE YEAR!!!

  19. Red Army 75 says:

    Good to see us back winning, showing character. That Stoke lot wudda loved it if we’d fucked up at their place. Good to see them struggling. Fuck em. They’d be no loss. Hopefully in the summer the boss can solve our wingers problem. We don’t seem to have any all of a sudden. An alien has taken over Valencia’s body, like the farmer from Men In Black (the movie, not our firm), we never know which Nani will turn up, full backs have long sussed that Young will always check inside, and Giggsy, is a little slower these days. We’re still passing it well but lack that panache and excitement we have from flying wingers. It’s good to change tactics at times, have to these days, but wingers are in our DNA. Ronnie was great, Kanchelskis was my favourite, but I go back to Gordon Hill and Stevie Coppell, great days under Tommy Doc, when as Scott points out on that link to the Stokie, we had the highest gates in England even in our year in the second tier – and they won’t next season!

  20. suhayl says:

    I echo Waynes sentiments, the post mortem of ‘midfield issues’ ‘not playing entertaining’ ‘not being free flowing and fluid’ etc is not for now. For now is to get the job done, no matter how, no matter how ugly, no matter who scores, no matter how turgid. GET the bloody job done.

    Those bitter Arseholes got a sniff last Monday. And esp after what happened last year, some of our fans felt it and felt that panic. I ll admit im the same, person of nervous disposition. Hence lets see this job out and ASAP. Going to those superior complex always blowing bubble morons, wont be easy. Just like Stoke, its land of the giants again. Diame is a beast and that scally Chav Andy Caroll Jackson has hit form. And as results have proved this season against them, both in the league and the fa cup, its not an easy place to go to, nor easy to play against them. Esp with Big Sams long ball tactics, we have struggled against them.

    So its all men to the pumps and full concentration, grind and dig in etc needed.

    By Way Scotty, Martin, the city loving, aguero goal mentioning ( every game he commentates and atleast about 10 times ), utd digs Tyler did mention the 14 year old lads passing on commentary when those Stokies started clapping. The plane gestures from those inbred morons followed.

  21. HeartsGuy says:

    Yeah, it was good game all-round for united. Lots of positives than negatives. We remain united.

  22. Rahul says:

    IMO Kagawa was superb while he was on.

  23. matt says:

    “I’m struggling to recall a time when a player has dashed over to the hug the manager after scoring”.. Chelsea players and Villas-Boas, circa 2011. Although that was probably a bit more staged haha

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