Stoke 2 Manchester United 1 match report: Charlie Adam double pops David Moyes’ bubble

The United manager sees another record go, with their first defeat at Stoke in 30 years

Brittania Stadium

After the euphoria and eloquence of a record signing, back to the bleak and prosaic reality of a season in which retaining a place in the Champions’ League is beginning to look a very forlorn hope for Manchester United.

From the wreckage of a fifth defeat in eight since the turn of the year, there were extenuating circumstances: the loss of two centre-halves before the game had reached half-time. At least there was some vigour and fight from a second half which reminded you of schoolyard days when it’s the best three players stick the rest. United did not deserve another of those era-ending statistics in a campaign which has known many – this being Stoke’s first win over them here in 30 years.

But they were defeated, for all that. David Moyes can’t shake off his loser’s luck and Juan Mata’s arrival cannot disguise the fact that mediocrity resides everywhere in this team. When Moyes looked for players in reserve he found Danny Welbeck – a shadow of the player United need him to be – and when he looked to Ashley Young to finish off the game’s most gilt-edged chance, two yards out, he saw him place the ball wide, late on.

“There wasn’t a lot that I can say that we didn’t do well except put the ball in,” Moyes said. In the final third, United were desperately poor.

Moyes sounded like a man in denial when he responded bitterly to the question: “You must be disappointed with that performance?” He retorted that United “were the better team. We were really unlucky. We got to the byline eight or nine times and never found the ball.”

The omens had actually looked promising when he was able to call on Wayne Rooney and Robin van Persie to start together for the first time in 20 matches against a Stoke side who had not won in the League since December 21 and been consigned to the relegation zone half an hour earlier.

We discovered for the first time where Juan Mata will fit in among those two – on the right of a three-man line behind the striker. But it looked like yet another of those Moyes afternoons from the moment Jonny Evans left the field with a tweaked hamstring and the game ten minutes old.

Mata and Rooney showed flashes of intuition but neither could make a discernible impression, as a gale ripped down the length of the pitch. United’s defence had the wind behind them but still found it more difficult to cope, as it twice held up the balls for floated into the right channel for Jonathan Walters. Peter Crouch miscued his connection with Walters’ first cross and a second sailed straight at David de Gea.

Charlie Adam, with his energy, was the game’s outstanding midfielder and United’s afternoon began unravelling when his 35-yard free kick – awarded for a marginal infringement after Chris Smalling’s challenge form behind Walters – was deflected in off the extended right leg of Michael Carrick. Then Jones, operating in place of Evans, was briefly rendered unconscious by a fall and stretchered off, forcing Moyes to deploy Carrick in his place. Welbeck was sent on and Rooney dropped to midfield.

United were level within 90 seconds of the restart, for which an impatient United arrived first. Marc Wilson headed a limp clearance to the feet of Mata who played the ball, with a first time touch, for van Persie who let it take two bounces and eased home. But Adam restored the lead within three minutes, fastening onto the ball Walters had nodded down after Marko Arnautovic’s airshot at it.

Stoke threw themselves into some vast tackles as United set about repairing the deficit – Wilson on Mata as he made to shoot was the best of them – and they roughed them up, too. A Walters tackle, two-footed, on Smalling was dire. But while Mark Hughes’ substitute, Oussama Assaidi, looked a threat, running Smalling inside out and then volleying  narrowly over, Moyes’ own died a death. After Young’s miss from Smalling’s cross, a Rooney free-kick, tipped sharply onto the post by Asmir Begovic, was followed up by a weak Welbeck header and then a Tom Cleverley shot, levered well over the bar.

Hughes said he did not remember playing in United’s last League defeat here, on Boxing Day 1984. Those were difficult days for United, under Ron Atkinson, but the club at least finished fourth that year.

Stoke (4-5-1): Begovic; Cameron, Shawcross, Wilson, Pieters; Odemwingie, Adam, Whelan (Palacios, 83), Arnautovic (Assaidi, 72), Walters (Ireland, 60); Crouch.

Manchester Utd (4-2-3-1): De Gea; Smalling, Evans (Rafael, 10), Jones (Welbeck, 43), Evra; Carrick, Cleverley; Mata, Rooney, Young; Van Persie (Hernandez, 79).

Referee: Neil Swarbrick.

Man of the match: Adam (Stoke)

Match rating: 7/10

 

PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton: The power dynamics of the two first families

Jeb Bush vs Hillary Clinton

Karen Tumulty explores the power dynamics of the two first families
Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley with a hotbed of technology start-ups

Stockholm is rivalling Silicon Valley

The Swedish capital is home to two of the most popular video games in the world, as well as thousands of technology start-ups worth hundreds of millions of pounds – and it's all happened since 2009
Did Japanese workers really get their symbols mixed up and display Santa on a crucifix?

Crucified Santa: Urban myth refuses to die

The story goes that Japanese store workers created a life-size effigy of a smiling "Father Kurisumasu" attached to a facsimile of Our Lord's final instrument of torture
Jennifer Saunders and Kate Moss join David Walliams on set for TV adaptation of The Boy in the Dress

The Boy in the Dress: On set with the stars

Walliams' story about a boy who goes to school in a dress will be shown this Christmas
La Famille Bélier is being touted as this year's Amelie - so why are many in the deaf community outraged by it?

Deaf community outraged by La Famille Bélier

The new film tells the story of a deaf-mute farming family and is being touted as this year's Amelie
10 best high-end laptops

10 best high-end laptops

From lightweight and zippy devices to gaming beasts, we test the latest in top-spec portable computers
Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

Michael Carberry: ‘After such a tough time, I’m not sure I will stay in the game’

The batsman has grown disillusioned after England’s Ashes debacle and allegations linking him to the Pietersen affair
Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

Susie Wolff: A driving force in battle for equality behind the wheel

The Williams driver has had plenty of doubters, but hopes she will be judged by her ability in the cockpit
Adam Gemili interview: 'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

'No abs Adam' plans to muscle in on Usain Bolt's turf

After a year touched by tragedy, Adam Gemili wants to become the sixth Briton to run a sub-10sec 100m
Calls for a military mental health 'quality mark'

Homeless Veterans campaign

Expert calls for military mental health 'quality mark'
Racton Man: Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman

Meet Racton Man

Analysis shows famous skeleton was a 6ft Bronze Age superman
Garden Bridge: St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters

Garden Bridge

St Paul’s adds to £175m project’s troubled waters
Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament: An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel

Stuff your own Christmas mouse ornament

An evening class in taxidermy with a festive feel
Joint Enterprise: The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice

Joint Enterprise

The legal doctrine which critics say has caused hundreds of miscarriages of justice
Freud and Eros: Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum: Objects of Desire

Freud and Eros

Love, Lust and Longing at the Freud Museum