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VIEW FROM THE ENEMY: Stoke Fan On Shawcross, Playing Dirty, Ronaldo and Wenger

So here we are, the last game of the season, and United need three points against Stoke to stand a chance of winning the title. Jon Owen from the Stoke City website, Why Delilah, has given me a few minutes to have a chat about the game ahead. Truth be told, Stoke fans haven’t left the best impression on me in our few meetings over the past couple of years but Jon is honest and humble in his assessment of our teams and it helps we have a shared enemy in Arsene Wenger!

Scott the Red: Who has been your best player this season?

Jon Owen: There’s quite a few candidates in this category – definitely a good sign! If I was pushed I’d go for Matthew Etherington. He signed from West Ham in January 2009 and has given us genuine Premier League quality. He won player of the season last week and despite an injury hampering his season, he has been excellent, both providing and scoring goals. People may laugh but when you see Stewart Downing being picked for England, I think Matty deserves a chance. He wouldn’t look out of place. Other mentions have to go to Ryan Shawcross, who seems to be getting better and better, Robert Huth, who has been a great signing for £5m, and Ricardo Fuller, who we always miss when he doesn’t play.

STR: Which of your players has surprised you the most this season?

JO: Dean Whitehead. He signed from Sunderland for £5m in the summer and most fans weren’t exactly jumping for joy. For the first couple of months he really didn’t look any better than what we’ve already got. But since the turn of the year, he’s been “let out of the cage” a bit more and has become an all action midfielder. If he’d played similar in the first half of the season to the second, he would have been nailed on to be our player of the season.

STR: If there was any player in United’s squad you could have, with the exception of Rooney, who would it be?

JO: Ronaldo. I mean Tevez! Sorry haha! I’ve been hugely impressed by Valencia and he looks like he’ll be even better next season. The right side of midfield has been a problem position for us this season too. If I could choose another one, I’d go for Giggs. I’ve seen him twice at the Britannia and he has changed the game with passing like I’ve never seen before. He’s the best player I’ve ever seen “live.”

STR: Yeh Valencia has had a great first season at United and it’s nice to see some recognition of Giggs’ ability even now. I’m glad you mentioned Ronaldo too. Your fans have seemed fairly obsessed with him the past couple of seasons and tended to spend more time singing about him than singing about Stoke when we’ve played. Will you miss him this weekend?

JO: Of course! We love to hate here at Stoke! It was all a bit pantomime villain anyway. Ronaldo was class and we loved hating him!

STR: Well, he certainly enjoyed scoring against you in response! Stoke haven’t scored against United since joining the Premiership. Fancy your chances this weekend?

JO: Probably not. It’ll be ten men behind the ball with Fuller upfront chasing and harassing your defence. Maybe we’ll sneak one from a Rory throw in. We haven’t really tested your lot from our famous throw ins have we?!

STR: The Delap throw-in was pretty enjoyable last season actually. After 70,000+ people joined in cheering the build up and then cheered even louder when it amounted to nothing, Delap bottled it and stopped with the long ‘uns. Still, United need to stop the throw-ins again and hope desperately that the three points is enough to win us the league. Who would you prefer to win it?

JO: Well Chelsea embarrassing us in front of the cameras a couple of weeks ago, I’d be inclined to say Manchester United. To be fair, I’m not too fussed who wins it. If I had to choose? I’d go for United seeing as they’re closer to us geographically!

STR: Good man. The Chelsea battering was obviously a low point, but do you think Stoke have had a good season overall?

JO: An outstanding season. We’ve managed to gain 47 points, two more than last season, which is a brilliant achievement. There have been blips, what with the 7-0 defeat to Chelsea and reports of dressing room bust ups. But nobody said it was going to be easy. We’ve built a decent platform to build on and that’s thanks to chairman Peter Coates and manager Tony Pulis.

STR: One of the blips could arguably be the hammering that Stoke got in the press after playing Arsenal. What did you make of Shawcross vs Ramsey?

JO: It was a complete accident. Nobody wants to see that sort of thing happen. You saw Shawcross’s reaction. He was devastated. Luckily, he looks to have come back the same player and Wenger’s comments haven’t affected him.

STR: Yeh, Wenger accused your players of deliberately going out to hurt the opposition rather than going out to win the ball. What do you think of this?

JO: Utter rubbish. And he can talk! What about Gallas’ challenge on Davies in the Bolton game earlier this season? Stoke are a fair, honest, and hard working side. But to accuse us if trying to intentionally injure the opposition is rubbish. Tackles are part of football and Wenger needs to realise that. Anyone else think he’s past his best, anyway?

STR: Well, he hasn’t won anything for five years and could even finish behind Spurs if they don’t beat Fulham at the weekend, which of course I would be devastated about… And finally, what are your predictions for the weekend?

JO: I think you’ll win 2-0. Vidic and Berbatov.

STR: There aren’t many reds backing Berbatov to score! But he did open the scoring against you at your place and I would love to see him to do the same on Sunday. Although, it could go in off O’Shea arse and I’d still be happy! Your atmosphere wasn’t up to much but I have no doubt the travelling support will be lively enough this weekend! Cheers.

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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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43 Comments

  1. NSC says:

    lets just hope chelsea have a bad day. come on united! one last push for the title!

  2. curtis says:

    Nice views their agree with etherington looks as good as downing if i’m being honest.

    Anyway onto sunday and Bramble, Kirkland and arguably wigan’s form player moreno all out of the game so honestly it doesn’t look good, and if chelsea get an early goal we fucked simple as that. BUT maybe if wigan can frustrate them long enough i’m pretty sure chelski will bottle it due to lack of experience. they’ll start sending everyone forward and get caught on the break, thats a big maybe though.

    Anyway regardless of what goes on their i want us to fucking stuff stoke and hopefully rooney can get a hat-trick to seal the goal scorers top spot.

  3. DKB07 says:

    Chelsea maybe over-confident and Wigan may do us a favour with 10 men behind the ball, but im not optimistic, the best way of avoiding dissapointment is to expect the worse.

  4. bchilds says:

    Nice one, I do like the VFTE. I can’t see anything bar Chelski handing out a thrashing to Wigan, I can see it ended 4 or 5 nil but you never know!

  5. Drabik says:

    I would love to see both games 0-0 until 20 minutes to go. Manchester United score. Chelsea panic. Terry red card. Manchester United score again. Drogba red card. After being sent off, Drogba throws his Chelsea shirt to the ground, revealing the ‘Chelsea Champions’ shirt that all the players are likely to be wearing underneath

    It would be just awful if we miss out on the title due to our result against Stoke. I can’t imagine how upset I would be if both teams drew!

  6. Zappa says:

    Sorry to jump in with a slightly unrelated ‘story’ what do you make of this…?

    http://www.dailymail.co.uk/sport/football/article-1274287/SEMI-EXCLUSIVE-Chelseas-Premier-League-title-hopes-tatters-Manchester-United-Liverpool-agree-points-coalition.html?ito=feeds-newsxml

    I checked to see and its not April 1st again

  7. Zappa says:

    ..Course, it is related…

  8. sprite says:

    zappa,
    it is April 1st indeed..

  9. rat1p says:

    -Zappa

    must be a fuckin joke

  10. Drabik says:

    @Zappa – I have read this, and I must say, it is insane! Why would Liverpool agree to give Manchester United 2 points, after giving Chelsea 3 not too long ago? (joke…)

    Obviously, the article is a joke … a very bad joke … in fact, I can’t believe it is on the website.

  11. REDEDGE says:

    @ Zappa

    come on pal….on what planet would this have been a real story?? you couldnt get away with doing that in a powerleage 5-a side league in Ardwick!

    Its probably one of the worst articles ever written, not in the slightest bit funny, and makes absolutley no sense….would be nice though…

  12. REDEDGE says:

    durrr….that article is ‘obviously’ about the general election results etc etc….I must still be hungover

  13. GTull says:

    I think we’re all in agreement that come sunday evening, it’s incredibly likely that we’ll be living with the thought of Terry’s dirty hands all over the premiership trophy much like they were on Vanessa Perroncel just a short while ago.

    But you never know, stranger things have happened in football.

    We just need to keep our own house in order, our only chance of winning is the ‘pressure factor’. We have nothing to lose, but it’s important that we go out there on the positive and score nice and early.

    if Chelsea score early I fear their game will turn into a precession and our game will mean nothing so the longer their game goes without a goal, the better and if we can score one or two before they do then they’ll really start to feel the heat.

    Course I made similar statements about the Stoke game and all my predictions of a nervous stamford bridge and it being a struggle were ruined when Stoke went 1 – 0 down and gave up.

    Ah well, we can dream.

  14. Costas says:

    Good interview. It might be wise if we toy with them a bit before we start scoring. It could make Chelsea to lift their foot off the pedal and get complacent against Wigan.

  15. King Eric says:

    I can’t actually believe people are falling for that “points coalition between the dippers and United”. Fucking hell lads.

  16. Gotta hate tiny tears says:

    19 league titles 4 titles in a row COME ON WIGAN make yourselves apart of history

  17. Jay says:

    The points coalition thing is a heap of nonsense.and to think that dailymail has an article on it?shows what a credible website it is.

  18. giggs11gerrard0 says:

    Scott these pre match insights are class, the most enjoyable part of the blog for me! Class

  19. Fred says:

    Must have been hard getting intelligable answers out of this mouthbreather. Fair play to him for not spontaneously breaking into any Munich songs. He showed remarkable restraint there for a Stoke fan.

    That said, he got us good with that quip about Ronaldo and Tevez. Really topical, that one! (That’s that legendary Stoke wit, made famous by Nick Hancock, Stoke’s most famous son.)

    I am puzzled as to how you corresponded with this guy though, as I don’t believe they have the internet yet in Stoke do they?

    In all seriousness, our players will need to be on their game this Sunday. Stoke have so many ways to hurt us, whether its Delap throw-ins from the right, Delap throw-ins from the left, even Delap throw-ins from the halfway line, there’s so many ways Stoke can hurt you (and that’s not even taking into consideration those trademark bonecrunching tackles!)

    Pulis deserves a lot of respect for getting this pile of shite into the top 10, although perhaps it does put into persepective our league’s claims of being the world’s best.

    My prediction for Sunday: United 4-0 Stoke

  20. Toby says:

    Ricardo Fuller is in love with my girlfriend, would it be cheeky to ask him to get us tickets for Sunday? Would probably have to sit in the away stand though.

    :D

  21. Fred says:

    Might be worth a try. To fit in, you’ll have to learn Stoke’s entire repertoire of songs though, which could take you the best part of five seconds.

    Stand up if you hate Man U
    We support our local team
    Who are ya?
    Booooooooooo (whenever a United player has the ball)
    Cheat! Cheat! Cheat! (whenever a United player is fouled)

  22. RedAlert260599 says:

    I don’t rate Wenger as an enemy – well not as much as Stoke “anti-football” City anyway. Wenger is right about teams like Stoke and Blackburn, they’re throwbacks to the seventies cloggers. Who needs grass they way they play? There’s no place in modern football for these neanderthals.

  23. kalistha says:

    calm down about the daily mail article guys, they’re using football as an analogy to windup labour and lib dems – it’s a political piece not a football piece!

  24. REDEDGE says:

    @ Fred – brilliant mate…. bored to tears in work, but that comment really made me laugh!

    You are slightly wrong though…I believe television was invented in Stoke in 2007, and next year sees the release of the sega mega drive to most high street stores.

    I also agree about there incredibly acute tactics, of raping and pillaging teams who don’t succumb to their secret weapon of the long throw….

    My prediction United 3 – Stoke 0

  25. keano says:

    here’s hoping for a minor miracle..

  26. Schmuck says:

    Anybody saw ManUtd.com top banner ? It says ‘CHAMPIONS2010, ENGLISH RECORD 19 LEAGUE TITLES – 4 IN A ROW’
    I hope it’ll come true come Sunday. Here’s the link to it ;

    http://www.manutd.com/default.sps?pagegid={F9E570E6-407E-44BC-800F-4A3110258114}&newsid=6648744

  27. Schmuck says:

    * under the topic ‘Sir Alex sees the positives’

  28. King Eric says:

    Fred – Classic posts fella. Spot on.

  29. bchilds says:

    @REDEDGE

    It’s the Master System mate, Mega Drive is years away!

  30. Aig alex is god says:

    Nice read.good job scott

  31. rooney the new king says:

    well off the topic can someone answer me how this scum get away with this how they seem to have money that does not add up or is not there. I mean any normal club that spends 80 million for one player should not be able to buy another player for atleast 3 years, but no the fascest think they can ride rough shots over everyone and there is no question they are a rich mans shitty and chelscum

    http://www.mirrorfootball.co.uk/news/Transfer-news-Real-Madrid-planning-record-breaking-120million-bid-for-Barcelona-star-Lionel-Messi-World-Exclusive-article417589.html

  32. rooney the new king says:

    does fifa and UEFA do anything about this no because its the fascist only they can spend 120 million for one player this really is a joke now, the want gerrard villa rooney torres vidic evra and now messi its about time uefa and FA really come down hard on this corrupt vile club that should have gone bunkrupt and folded years ago like leeds but much much worse

  33. Boothen Potter says:

    Cant wait for Sunday when the Mighty Potters travel to Man’ure, & ruin their chance of beating Liverpools title winning record. :o D. Tony Pulis’ Barmy Army!

  34. curtis says:

    Lol Real Madrid have always been this way and nothing will change this not uefa nor fifa, don’t let it get to you mate. neither messi nor rooney will go to them cunts.

  35. manchuchu says:

    Berbatov to score… HAH!

  36. james21 says:

    @ Fred
    Classic
    Its amazing How alot of teams chants are boring the worse for me is Villa Villa Villa Villa, with that droll Brummie Twang.
    I expect the Stoke fans to Chant We support our local Team even if some should support Port Vale.

    As for expecting to win the League well I wouldn’t be gutted if we didn’t, the Scousers saw to that last week. IF However Chelsea fail to win against Wigan and Utd Dick Stoke I’ll Jump around like an Effing Looney. Oh and Gloat like a Bitter when Utd Loose a game.
    C’mon Wigan, Roberto Martinez Believes and so do I.

  37. willierednut says:

    I think we’ll do this lot 5 0 on Sunday, and then pray wee Wigan do us a favour at the Bridge.

  38. Fred says:

    I think you’re pushing it a bit with 50 but we should definitely try to get at least 10 after the spanking they got at Chelsea.

    Charles N’Zogbia is back for Wigan on Sunday, could be interesting…

  39. redscot says:

    Great Interview I think these lads that do these interviews with Scott are so knowlegable and balanced about there respective clubs and give a genuine unbiased view.
    Of all the questions he was asked I agree totally with the comments regard Shawcross, I watched that game live and that tackle was totally innocent.I truely felt so sorry for Ryan and goes without saying Aaron Ramsey,but for Leprofessor to jump in immediately and try to get the lad scrubbed, disgracefull behaviour,he clearly cant remember the sluggers he has managed in the past.Selective memory is a sign of a wandering brain,and probably hands.
    I must say always a brilliant atmosphere at the Britannia, they dont half get behind there team.
    I note also he complements the manager and assistant, but ignores Peter Reid, coincidence, or just he is a twat.
    Lets hope his prediction on Sunday is right, or maybe he is lulling us into a false sense of confidence.
    Cmon you Reds…….Believe.

  40. willierednut says:

    Fred – zzzzzzzzzzzz

  41. Canadian Red Devil says:

    @Fred

    lol you just know Stoke will be unrecognizable from the team who conceded 7 at Stamford Bridge. Like so many teams, United is their “cup final” and they’ll be fighting like their lives depend on it. Of course, we’ll beat them no matter how they play but I’m not expecting fives, sixes or even sevens because I think it will be a nervy day for us (either that or Chelsea will score early and our morale will drop.)

  42. xol says:

    Fred, N’zogbia returning is good news. I was surprised he didn’t play last week after scoring some corking goals. Made me think the little Spaniard was resting him for the Chelscum match.

    I just want to see the chavs’ luck change, lots of people here have talked about Karma and all that. They’re well due a penalty against. A Blatantly offside Rodallega goal would be a nice thing, Any gripes from those chavs about losing the title to an offside goal could be countered with reminders about Dogbreath’s offside goal against us.

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