Manchester United vs. Stoke City: Bojan, Sparky & van Persie

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney, right, and Stoke City's Geoff Cameron in the Premier League
Wayne Rooney, who is in top form at present, in action against Stoke City

Manchester United welcome Stoke City to Old Trafford on Tuesday night and will be looking to win their fourth game on the spin following victories over Crystal Palace, Arsenal and most recently, the 3-0 demolition of Hull City. Louis van Gaal will be delighted with Robin van Persie’s goal in that win and will be hoping his fellow countryman can push on against a side who have not won at Old Trafford since the 1975/76 season.

Angel Di Maria is set to miss the match following a hamstring injury he picked up in the game at the weekend. Wayne Rooney did appear to pick up a knock towards the end, however – is set to be involved. United fans will be hoping to see Radamel Falcao, who is now fully recovered from a calf problem. The visitors are without Glenn Whelan, Steve Sidwell, Robert Huth, Victor Moses and Peter Odemwingie.

We have a great view from the oppo with Martin who runs the Oakcake Fanzine forum. We discuss the brilliant Bojan, whether Sparky is the right man for the job and which United player he admires the most.

1) How would you sum up Stoke City’s season so far? Happy with progress?
The season has been one massive exercise in frustration so far. We just can’t string two results together and keep giving away stupid points to teams who don’t deserve them.

We’re a model of inconsistency and that’s led to us winning away superbly at Man City but then losing at home to Leicester, and then winning at Spurs only to lose at home to Burnley in the next match.

We could scream!!!

2) Is Mark Hughes the right man to lead you forward?
He is absolutely is. Not everyone was keen when he got the job but he’s been excellent so far. We had our best Premier League finish last season and he’s barely spent a penny since he’s been at Stoke.

3) Would you be better of with Tony Pulis is charge? What actually happened in his “parting” with Stoke City?
Tony Pulis had his time and we are a better club for the years he spent with us. It was all just running out of steam at the end and we needed a change. Pulis will get a standing ovation when he ever returns for a game at Stoke but I think most Stokies were happy that we acted when we did let him go.

He was just spending too much money for too little progress and that scared the board. For a while we were the 4th highest net spenders in the country but possessed the worst scoring record in all four divisions.

That said, some fans still pine for him!

4) You’ve had a great win away at Tottenham, but then lost at home to Burnley – inconsistent or just unlucky?
As I said earlier, we are ridiculously inconsistent. Some of it is bad luck but a lot of it is our own fault. We’re dominating games but being found at at both ends of the pitch.

5) Bojan – surprised with the initial signing? Just how good is he up close?
A few weeks ago we were wondering how we could fit Bojan into the team. Now we’re wondering what the hell we’d do without him. He’s an incredible talent. He was amazing in pre-season but then seemed a little lightweight once the season began. We stayed patient though, built him up and now it’s paying off.

I can see why he chose to sign for a club like Stoke but can’t understand how clubs such as Arsenal, Spurs, Liverpool and, yes, Man Utd didn’t pick up on his availability and take a gamble?

6) What have you made of United so far this season?
It’s hard to know what to make of you guys? The players and the potential are clearly still there but there are undoubtedly issues and you continue to look vulnerable. That said, Van Gaal seems to be knocking you into better shape than you were in under Moyes and you look more dangerous than you did for most of last season.

Maybe that one season out of Europe will help you in the long run?

You obviously still don’t yet look anything like the outfit you were a few years ago. The aura of dominance has been removed and you look to be a long way behind Chelsea right now… mind you, so is everyone else in the Premier League!

7) Which United player have you/do you most admire?
Robin Van Persie. The bloke is still absolutely world class!

8) What is your favourite memory in a United v.s Stole city match?
I’m old enough to remember Stoke winning at Old Trafford in 1972 and 1976. And I was at the game at the Victoria Ground at the end of the 73/74 season when Man Utd had just been relegated (a couple of days after the Denis Law back-heel goal) and all your travelling fans burnt their scarves on a bonfire on the away end. That was quite a memory for an 11 year-old fan!

9) Which youngster should we all be looking out for?
We haven’t really been bringing many youngsters through recently but we’ve got one now named Oliver Shenton who’s looking the business. Watch out for him (but don’t nick him off us!). The only good young player we’ll have on display at your place though is Bojan!

10) What is your all time Stoke City xi, with gaffer and three subs?

Manager – Tony Waddington


Subs. Mark Stein, Alan Bloor & Terry Conroy

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