Sunday, February 2, 2014

Hoofin' it: Stoke City 2 - Manchester United 1

photo by Corey Annvia PhotoRee

Wayne Rooney as a deep lying playmaker, Michael Carrick at center back, the visiting team employing hoof and run tactics and playing down to the level of its relegation-threatened opponent: such are the shambolic depths to which Manchester United plummeted with its latest piece of history making, the Red Devils losing to Stoke City for the first time in 30 years. If a team is the reflection of its manager, Manchester United would be preternaturally aging and under intense pressure after its latest loss, another dispiriting and dreary affair at the Britannia Stadium in Stoke-on-Trent. To those United fans who gained succor from the signing of Juan Mata during the recent transfer window, Saturday's performance  -- yet another "unlucky" one according to David Moyes -- was a reality check, as a team which used to score goals for fun has been reduced to scrapping and losing against bottom of the table competitors.

This writer's mother once told him if you have nothing nice to say don't say anything at all, so we'll leave the recap here and move into a set of player ratings that no one in red will be particularly pleased to see:

De Gea: Hung out to dry by Michael Carrick on the first, and had absolutely no chance on Adam's laser. 6.5

Jones: Unafraid to sacrifice the body, but did it one too many times. Hope he's okay. 6.5

Smalling: Moved to center back early. 6.0

Evans: Failed to make even the 10 minute mark. N/A

Evra: Physical match, got more hang time than an NBA player. 6.5

Carrick: Broke up play well but scored what should be ruled as his second own goal of the season with a weak attempt at a block. Should never have been playing center half. 5.5

Cleverley: Unobtrusive? Yes. Ineffective?  It goes without saying. If the definition of insanity is doing the same thing over and over again and expecting a different result, then David Moyes is officially insane for his persistence in keeping Tom Cleverley in the lineup. Moon ball from point blank range in stoppage time. 4.5

Young: Unable to conjure up the mid-week magic. 5.0

Rooney: Dropped to center mid when Jones went out, faded badly in the second half. 6.0

Mata: Not much to talk about other than one more assist.  Seemed wasted on the right. 6.0

Van Persie: Didn't sniff the ball much in the first 30 minutes. Made no mistake after the break when he tied the game up. 6.5


Rafael (Evans), 10: Steady. 6.0

Welbeck (Jones), 43: Asleep at the switch. A rather bizarre selection from the manager when Darren Fletcher appeared the natural choice. 4.5

Hernandez (Van Persie), 79: Beautiful cutback near the end but no one there to take advantage. 6.0

This is farlieonfootie for February 2.

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