Moyes moans as luck still out

Stoke 2 Manchester United 1

Moyes moans as luck still out

However, it appears that is where luck ran out for him and for United. Now they have to earn it back, according to Ferguson’s successor, who will have you believing he is cursed.

When Charlie Adam’s speculative free-kick came off Michael Carrick’s knee and dribbled into the net with David De Gea sprawled on the ground, the United boss could only have thought to himself “not again”.

Stoke had rarely troubled United until the 38th minute and although the Premier League champions were not really causing problems at the other end, it was a feeling of injustice when the Potters took the lead in that manner. It got worse when Phil Jones was taken to hospital after a nasty clash of heads with Jon Walters just before the break after centre-back partner Jonny Evans had hobbled off in the 11th minute.

Then the rain came hammering down at half-time, just as United were about to play into the strong wind at a blustery Britannia Stadium. Even the Gods seemed to have it in for the visitors.

But in the end, Stoke deserved their win after Adam fired in a stunner following Robin van Persie’s equaliser. And therein lies the problem for Moyes and United this season, their ability to bounce back from misfortune.

For a side that has not been short of refereeing decisions going their way over recent decades and a seemingly unrelenting ability to overcome obstacles in their way, this season is different.

There have been plenty of shortcomings and it would be naive to say it is all down to bad luck, even if Moyes would rather we all believed that. Notably their failings in the summer transfer window, Moyes’ constant rotation of his starting line-up and more than their fair share of below-par performances have left their chances of making next season’s Champions League looking slim.

But there is still the sense that if some fortune fell their way at various times then it may not look so bleak for the Premier League champions.

Moyes has had to deal with numerous injuries even before the visit to Stoke. Van Persie and Wayne Rooney have rarely played together with the injury problems both have endured, the defence have all suffered spells on the sidelines and on a number of occasions the bounce of a ball, a deflection or a refereeing decision has agonisingly gone against them.

“I’ve never had periods of luck in my career like this one,” said Moyes, who had brazenly suggested that United played well against Stoke when the majority offered a different view. “I’m a football guy and I know how it works, you take it as it comes and goes but this has been a long, sustained period.

“But I don’t rely on luck. I believe you earn your luck by how hard you work and the things you do. You have to turn it yourselves, I don’t want us to be relying on refereeing decisions so I would rather try to work harder.”

Juan Mata was the man charged with helping to turn this season around with or without luck, but the record €45m signing will struggle to do that now.

Even with Van Persie, Rooney and Mata starting for the first time together, there was little spark or creativity.

United barely had a chance to enjoy getting back into the game after former Chelsea man Mata set up Van Persie two minutes into the second half.

Adam found the top corner with a blistering effort just five minutes later for what would be the winner.

United are now further away from Spurs, Everton and Liverpool in the race for the top four. Stoke had not beaten United in the league since 1984 and the victory catapulted them away from the drop zone to ease the pressure on boss Mark Hughes. “We’d like to think we are now looking upwards,” said Hughes, who was part of the United team that last lost against the Potters in the league.

STOKE CITY (4-5-1): Begovic 7; Cameron 6, Shawcross 7, Wilson 5, Pieters 6; Odemwingie 5, Whelan 6 (Palacios 83), Adam 8, Arnautovic 7 (Assaidi 72, 7), Walters 7 (Ireland 60, 6); Crouch 6.

MAN UTD (4-2-3-1): De Gea 6; Smalling 5, Jones 6 (Welbeck 45, 5), Evans 6 (Rafael 11, 5), Evra 6; Carrick 6, Cleverley 5; Mata 6, Rooney 5, Young 6; Van Persie 5 (Hernandez 78, 6).

Referee: N Swarbrick 6

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