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Stoke 0 United 2

I missed the game at Stoke last season as my ankle was in a case following surgery, so I was looking forward to going to the Britannia and judging their probably overhyped atmosphere for myself. I had been before when United has played a pre-season game there years ago, but all I remember of that was being stuck in traffic, our team being hammered and Forlan scoring a late consolation! We got to the ground at around 12.30pm after all the stories of how hard parking would be. It turned out that it was pretty easy to find a spot, but that there was nothing nearby to help us kill the hours unless we wanted to look at used cars. Instead we headed over to the away end to see who was around, and saw the team bus (including Owen Hargreaves on board) pulling up next to us. Fed up of the wind, and lack of reds around, we went into the stadium at around 1.45pm to find our seats, which were low down directly behind the goal. The concourses were slowly filling up with the new Wes Brown song being aried over and over. I like the song myself, but Wes was not even in the line up and personally I’d rather get behind the players on the pitch during a game. Stoke’s atmosphere was admittedly pretty good, especially when they sany Dellilah, and unlike most grounds one of the main stands also joined in as well as the fans behind the goal. But United were in full voice too, responding to the Stoke fans singing anti-United songs with a rendition of “You’ve only come to sing Delillah”. On the pitch United had all the possession but failed to test the keeper, the main problem being the inability of Valencia or Nani to deliver a decent cross. That problem continued for all of the first and most of the second halves.

United’s total dominance of the game was promising and I definately felt most confident that I had done at half time last week against City. The key to the game would be either a decent cross or a moment of inspiration from the likes of Rooney or Berbatov, and it seemed that if we got that first goal it would all be over as Stoke had nothing going forwards. The goal finally happened when Fergie dragged Nani off the pitch and threw Giggs on. Not only was his first cross perfectly placed to allow Berbatov to tap in, but his second landed on John O’Shea’s head for a second. It was a real lesson for the likes of Valencia and Nani, who must take note of Giggs’ precision and accuracy with the ball at his feet.

The game was now United’s, the home fans were quiet and many headed for the exits, and news filtered in of Chelsea losing at Wigan. And then the forth official held up the injury time board indicating four minutes, sending the United end in howls of laughter. “We want six, we want six” was the chant, followed by “We want Fergie time, I said we want Fergie time”. It was the best way for us to respond to the ridiculous media all week, and Fergie grinned and waved back at us. The final whistle sounded and we headed back to the car, to hear Tony Pulis being far more gracious in defeat than bitter Sparky was a week earlier. Another three points, back to the top of the league, and a great win in the sunshine for United.  

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