Manchester United: Stoke Result Lacks Significance
Despite perfunctorily dismantling Stoke City at Old Trafford on Saturday, Manchester United would be wise to avoid being too chuffed.
In a game where Carrick and Fletcher looked like Scholes and Keane, you have to question the opposition.
In fact, there was no player on United who performed poorly, which asks whether is more likely: Each United player being individually in the best form of the season, or Stoke City sucking absolute bollocks?
The answer here is the latter.
Stoke City are a team comprised to attack singularly using long-throw gimmicks, with every position player looking like he should be playing Rugby. It's a matter of size, not tactics, in defending against the direct throw, and United were always prepared with Vidic in the rearguard.
It's not often Nemanja Vidic faces up against attacking players who are both slower and weaker than he is, and the Serbian made one mistake all game in a laughingly comfortable performance.
The same could be said for young back Johnny Evans who simply outclassed what feeble talent Stoke had arranged for him.
Edwin van der Sar made a brilliant save on Delap's first long-throw, only for the deflection to be credited to the crossbar by the commentary duo.
Patty Evra might as well have urinated on the left touch-line because it belonged to him.
Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick sprayed the ball around like they were on serious hallucinogens, intuitively and mostly inch-perfect; the clear effect of time and space in abundance.
The great form Fletcher has found himself in recently is exemplified in having already appeared more for United this season than all of last.
Displays like these from Carrick are few and far between, often in direct, proportional correlation to the shite teams United happen to be playing at the time.
Tevez, often dropping deep in detriment, ran around to his heart's content, with some good touches and great work-rate. Berbatov danced around the pitch absently, still managing to outclass any defender, and scoring clinically after an ingenious touch while surely musing over his dinner plans.
Ronaldo probably enjoyed the least joy of any United outfield player. Despite scoring twice on wicked free kicks, he was often frustrated, going to ground too easily, and often complaining to the referee.
Hopefully his penchant for whining is more a sign of immaturity than a desire to be playing in Madrid. Ronaldo must realize and accept, sooner than later, that his class demands such underhanded defending; he must be fouled to be stopped.
A victory over Stoke City in this manner should not relegate the loss to Arsenal any deeper in memory. Games against these bottom-feeders demand three points, but Ferguson would know better than to think his squad is walking on sunshine at the moment.
Despite stating "Ronaldo's on fire" in the post-game conference, Ferguson must know it's merely lip-service; Stoke offered more than enough time and space but not enough competition for United to truly gauge their current state.
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