Piccadilly rail station, 10.25 AM and it is deserted as the Euston bound trains were going out to Stoke for this game. I have never seen this arterial train station so quiet. Gradually some hungover reds turned up. They were saying variants of goodness gracious* as for the second time in a week, they’d had an early kick off imposed on them by the whims of live TV. However, compared to getting to Tottenham for a midday kick off, this was a doddle.
Ryan Shawcross losing Phil Jones in the 2nd minute. Seconds later, he put Stoke 1-0 in front
It was a nervous United side that had started the game but not only was it a nervous performance, the night as a whole had a feel of everybody going through the motions. In the 21st minute, from an Ander Herrera cross, Marouane Fellaini scored the type of goal he was renowned for at Everton, to give United the lead. The reception the goal garnered was nearly as rapturous as the injury time equaliser Robin van Persie scored against Chelsea five weeks ago. I wonder how many people who cheered that goal were ironically cheering Fellaini’s every touch in the pre season friendly against Valencia at Old Trafford and I also wonder if those same people can look at themselves in the mirror, come the morning.
Until today, I had never in my life seen a good game of football involving the 1992 Autoglass Trophy winners. A real see saw game saw for the third consecutive time, a farcical goal go in at the Scoreboard End. Peter Crouch forced a great save from David De Gea on 3 minutes before Jonny Evans attempted clearance deflected off Crouch’s shin and into the back of the net. When Van Persie equalised on 43 minutes, the relief around the ground could be touched. It didn’t last long. Two minutes later, Marko Arnautovic beat David De Gea on his near post from a free kick to De Gea’s right. Wayne Rooney was again immense today, he was busy and determined. Some United players didn’t have such a great game though. Jonny Evans and Phil Jones occasionally resembled Laurel and Hardy at the back, then we have Nani…(on doctors advice and some Mogadon , I’m leaving it there).
In the pre-match build up was all the usual cliches regarding Stoke City. Loud passionate fans, check, hard place for visitors to come to, check and all the hype about this being the biggest test of United’s admittedly, wobbly looking, new goalkeeper has faced, check. After the usual clueless rubbish from ESPNs Jon Champion about Stoke fans making all the noise, when all I could hear was United fans, I thought that the one saving grace was that Craig Burley, Jon Champion’s sidekick, is not the execrable Alan Smith on SKY sports. Continue reading Searching For The Ghost At Stoke. Manchester, 25th Of September 2011