Manchester United didn’t turn up at all. Blustery conditions meant the opening exchanges of the game were timid in terms of attacking threat because both sides struggled to create anything.
United then started to play some nice football on the ground and put Stoke under some real pressure but couldn’t turn that pressure into a goal.
Stoke then took the lead through a massive slice of luck after Charlie Adams’ free-kick took a deflection off of Michael Carrick‘s knee.
The second half exploded into life when Robin van Persie got United level before Adam scored an unbelievable goal to put Stoke back in the lead. From then on, Stoke were the team in control and United chased their tail to no avail.
Fans don’t know what is going on and United don’t either. Optimism was rife among fans when Van Persie, Mata and Rooney’s name were all included in the starting XI, but it was short-lived.
The trio only linked up once with any merit in the first half before Rooney was forced into central midfield due to our injury woes. That’s not good enough. With that much world-class talent on the pitch, we should create chances for fun.
Instead, we slow sown to a canter when we get to the edge of the box because we don’t know what we’re doing.
On the pitch right now, we don’t have an identity. We’re struggling to play with any sort of fluidity and consistency. Last week against Cardiff, we played very well yet today we were at sixes and sevens.
Juan Mata cost £37 million, use him properly. Mata’s arrival was never going to solve all of the problems that United have had this season but his creativity going forward was something we definitely needed.
So to see him forced out wide is just ridiculous. Check out his passes from the first half.
He played a little more centrally in the second half but we need to change our style of play if we are going to get the best out of Mata. Players need to run towards him for the short passes instead of moving away for the longer balls.
For the love of god, do not play him wide in a 4-4-2. Be tactically flexible and adapt.
United are fresh out of luck. United’s line-up at the start of the game was one of the strongest we had this season but by half-time, we were a makeshift XI.
As well as injuries, Stoke scored a freak goal via a deflection from Carrick’s knee and there were some terrible refereeing decisions today.
When it rains, it pours. United really are up against this season given our poor performances and the luck is really not making it any easier.
Time will soon run out unless something changes. Stoke away is never an easy fixture but the performance United gave today was terrible.
Yes we had some bad injuries and yes Stoke had their luck but that shouldn’t stop us digging our heels in and giving a battle, but we didn’t bite back.
Something has to give. Something has to change. After Cardiff last week and the return of our top players, we all thought the season would start now. That hasn’t proved to be the case.