Charlie Adam hit a screamer to give Stoke City the win over Manchester United
Manchester United lost to Stoke City for the first time in the league since boxing day 1984, a fixture so long ago, Mark Hughes started up top alongside Frank Stapleton. The defeat heaps more misery on David Moyes, who was defiant after the game exclaiming that United were ‘unlucky’ to lose the match. The visitors lost Jonny Evans early on and Phil Jones just before half time, which meant that Michael Carrick had to shift to centre half alongside Chris Smalling. Wayne Rooney was forced to drop deep in midfield and was unlucky to not find the back of the net from a late freekick following a glorious save from Begovic.
Here we discuss the talking points from the game and welcome comments from both sets of fans.
The injuries to Jonny Evans and Phil Jones seriously hampered United’s chances in blustery conditions at the Britannia on Saturday. United were already without captain Nemanja Vidic, who was suspended from the 3-1 defeat against Chelsea, and the injured Rio Ferdinand, who has been well below par this season. Michael Carrick, as he often did under Sir Alex Ferguson, became a makeshift centre half, with Rafael coming on at right back and Wayne Rooney dropping deep into midfield.
Although United were obviously seriously hindered by these injuries and players playing out of position, the second half defensive performance was a shambles. Time after time, Stoke City players were given space out wide to put in a cross and United’s backline resembles a Sunday side in their reluctance to clear the ball. Patrice Evra allowed Peter Odemwingie time to chest the ball down from a cross and really should have scored having received no pressure what so ever from United’s French left back.
Smalling and Carrick allowed the ball to bounce from long balls and really struggled when trying to win headers. Smalling, who is usually very composed on the ball, showed signs of panic when attempting to clear his lines and nearly gifted Stoke a chance mid-way through the second half. Phil Jones will miss the clash with Fulham due to his head injury, but should be fit to face Arsenal in over a week’s time. Jonny Evans picked up a calf strain and there isn’t any news available on whether he’ll be out for some time.
David Moyes thinks United were ‘unlucky’
“I don’t know what we have to do to win. I thought we were extremely unlucky. We played well but for their first goal it was an incredible deflection and the second was a worldy.”
David Moyes after 2-1 defeat to Stoke City
David Moyes comments will no doubt have sparked ridiculed debate up and down the country in pubs and boozers as United notched up their eighth league loss of the season. Were United unlucky not to have won yesterday due to injuries, the weather or chances created? Take a look at Chelsea against West Ham in the week. The home side had 39 shots on goal to the visitors single strike – to me, that is unlucky to not come away with three points after such an obvious dominant performance.
The loss of two centre halves in the first half was unlucky, especially in he absence of Vidic and Ferdinand, but to exclaim that “I don’t know what we have to do to win” sounds as if United were peppering Begovic’s goal like it were Spain against minnows San Marino, holding on for dear life. There are elements to what happened yesterday, including a massive deflection for the first goal, that could be deemed unlucky – however, United simply weren’t good enough to win the match.
He may look older than your Dad, but Charlie Adam’s second strike, as Moyes has stated, was exceptional. He gave David De Gea no chance in the United goal and other than Wayne Rooney’s late effort, which was superseded by Tom Cleveley’s ballooned effort over the bar. Some may argue that Moyes could have brought on Flether instead of Welbeck to allow Rooney to operate further forward, a decision that in hindsight, due to Welbeck looking off the pace, could well have found an equaliser had Rooney been on the end of Mata’s pass.
Transfer window firmly shut
Don’t worry, its over for six more months. The transfer window has finally shut and as much as Jim White did a superb job trying to convince you to stay up with all the enthusiasm of your mate mad Frank who aims to keep an extremely shit night going where no one has pulled, you’re all miserable sitting at the bar and you’re about 7 years older than any person in a pretentious night spot that is far too fancy for your liking.
Manchester United were the big spenders in the window acquiring the services of the elegant playmaker Juan Mata from Chelsea. Mata is a step forward in the right direction, but United need to start sprinting in order to catch up with rest. Dreams of a twenty first title are firmly on hold now, until at least another season, despite the comments of Sir Alex Ferguson recently – but United can’t afford to miss out on a Champions League spot. Mata is ineligible for the Champions League, which no doubt looks the most unlikely route for United to participate in the tournament next season, so further additions surely should have been made to ensure United are there or thereabouts come May.
Nemanja Vidic has been linked with a move to Napoli in the summer and hasn’t been the dominate force he was once after his serious knee injury against Basel in 2011. Rio Ferdinand was exceptional last term, but has only featured in eight Premier League appearances this season – a far cry from last year when he was recalled to the England squad. Links with Ezequiel Garay have failed again to materialise in a transfer, whilst Fábio Coentrão and Luke Shaw remain at their clubs despite reported interest in acquiring a successor to Patrice Evra.
United’s achilles heel over the past ten years has been trying to find a player good enough to even come close to Paul Scholes. Paul Pogba departed for Juventus, Brazilian midfielder Anderson, who recently left to join Fiorentina, was never up to the task and the need to play 40 Ryan Giggs in the middle of the park speaks volumes regarding the sides’ need for a central midfielder. The elegant Toni Kroos was linked, the industrious Ilkay Gundogan was too, both last summer and in January, whilst Daniele De Rossi was spared suicide (OK, I know he was misquoted!). Juan Mata is an exceptional player, but further additions were needed.
One current United player that appears to have benefited from the window is Wilfried Zaha, who changed the game at Cardiff yesterday with his introduction. Why on earth hasn’t Zaha played in more games for United? On evidence of yesterday, his quality to take on players and carry the ball up the pitch would have been a valuable asset to United, considering Nani is out for month and Young/Valencia under performing.
There will be signings in the summer, surely, however – United may be playing in the Europa League if fortunes do not change on the pitch soon.
Before the game you would be forgiven to assume that this was going to be the second game in a run of United wins, following the news that Rooney and Van Persie would be joining Juan Mata in the starting line up. Sadly, for United fans anyway, this was not to be the case as Stoke City ran out 2-1 winners in a blustery game. United were poor defensively and were unable to clear their lines in the second half as Stoke piled on the pressure and utilising the weather conditions.
Charlie Adam’s second goal was a phenomenal strike. His left footed drive flew past De Gea, who was diving to his left, into the top corner only a few minutes after Manchester United had responded with a Robin van Persie strike. A long punt forward from Michael Carrick sparked panic in the Stoke third and the ball dropped to Juan Mata, who played a superb pass to the Dutchman to equalise. Scenes of van Persie running toward an elated Sir Alex Ferguson were not to be replicated, nor was the outcome of that match some ten months ago. Michael Carrick and United were unlucky with the heavily deflected freekick from Adam in the first half, but should have snatched a point following Cleveley’s woeful effort at the end of the match.
Manchester United host bottom club Fulham next Sunday, with Nemanja Vidic returning from suspension. Stating the obvious, United need a win to put pressure on Liverpool, who could go nine points clear with a win over WBA today – but with a trip to Arsenal looming a few days after Fulham, David Moyes needs a good performance from his men who appear off the pace at the moment.