As much as I enjoy following the fortunes of Stoke City, some games fill me with a feeling of dread as to the outcome.
One of those games occurs tomorrow when the Potters take on Manchester United at the Britannia Stadium.
In the course of the past few weeks, I have seen Manchester United several times on the Fox Soccer Channel. At the moment, United seem unplayable. They demolished Tottenham, Arsenal and Chelsea and routed Bolton Wanderers 5-0 away from home.
In their five Premier League games so far this season, United have scored 21 goals and conceded four.
Now, you can probably understand my feeling of dread.
Factor in Stoke City’s 120 minutes of football in Tuesday night’s third round Carling Cup tie against Tottenham Hotspur, and given that many of the same players will take the field against United, and my fears are far from being unfounded.
However, as Jimmy Greaves used to say – It’s a funny old game.
United will start out as favourites to win — bookmakers William Hill has United 8/15 to win; 3/1 for a draw; and 5/1 for a Stoke win – but it is still eleven men against eleven men and a lot can happen out there on the pitch.
One thing is certain. Stoke City will give 100 per cent. The matches against Manchester United are always viewed as a derby game. I think it stems from Stoke City having ex-United player Dennis Viollet when they returned to the old First Division in 1963. A year later they acquired Maurice Setters from United.
The rivalry between the two clubs has always been intense. Older Stoke fans like me will remember those famous victories in 1971 and 1972 in the League Cup and FA Cup respectively, when Stoke knocked out Manchester United boasting players such as Best, Law and Charlton.
So despite the bookmakers’ odds, a Stoke win can be achieved. Here’s hoping.
And to take my mind off it all, here are a few photographs captured last Saturday in downtown Jacksonville.
The B&W conversions used Silver Efex Pro in Photoshop CS3.
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