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Saturday, November 15, 2008

Danny has what it takes

Michael Carrick says Danny Welbeck has the star quality required to make the grade at Old Trafford.

The 17-year-old Reds striker marked his Premier League debut by smashing a shot into the top corner in front of the Stretford End during United's 5-0 win over Stoke. But Carrick insists Welbeck won’t get carried away.

“He’s so talented,” Michael told MUTV. “We see it every day in training. It’s nice for him to produce it on the big stage. His temperament is spot on, though, so he won’t get carried away. He’s got a good chance of achieving big things here.”

Welbeck’s incredible strike late in the game was as much an indication of his unshakeable confidence as his ability to utilise the talent he possesses. Now Carrick wants to see the Longsight-born forward excel in the first-team arena.

“What a goal,” said Carrick, who was also among the scorers on an incredible afternoon. “To come on and score a goal like that must be beyond his wildest dreams. I’m sure he’ll build on that.

“He’s got bags of ability and good temperament, so he suits playing for us. I’m not sure about the celebration, but he can work on that!”

Carrick also took time to praise Ronaldo for reaching the incredible landmark of 101 goals for United in his 253rd Reds appearance.

“His scoring record is unbelievable, especially for a winger,” he said. “Even for a goal-poaching centre-forward it’d be a good record. It’s incredible that he scores as many as he does, but his game is about so much more than that. It’s a fantastic achievement and a credit to him.”

Carrick passed a goals landmark of his own on Saturday, albeit on a smaller scale to Ronaldo, with his first-half strike against the Potters. It was his tenth goal for the Reds and, after grabbing his second goal of the season, admits that he’d like to contribute more.

“It was a nice strike,” he added. “I managed to turn and get half a yard and just hit through the back of the ball and it went in. It’s something I’d like to do more of, I’d like to get a few goals. Hopefully there’s more to come.”

Sir Alex: Ronaldo's on fire

Sir Alex Ferguson says Cristiano Ronaldo has reached top form after watching the Reds winger strike two unstoppable free-kicks in the 5-0 win over Stoke.

The United boss was pleased to see Ronaldo score his 100th and 101st goals for the Reds with two wonderfully struck set-pieces.

It indicates that the Portuguese winger is now back to his very best following a start to the season disrupted by an ankle operation in the summer.

"You saw his celebration, he was very pleased and the crowd were delighted," said Sir Alex.

"He's on fire now, he's back. He's overcome his operation and he is getting quicker with every game. His fitness levels are fantastic. The boy is back."

United's five-star performance against Stoke wasn't all about Ronaldo. Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov and Premier League debutant Danny Welbeck also chipped in. And Sir Alex was pleased with the way the Reds defended against Stoke's physical and aerial threats.

"We did some work on it during the week. We handled the throw-ins very well - I think the crowd helped us there!" he said refferring to United's fans jeering whenever their was a throw-in that didn't fluster the Reds rearguard.

Welbeck playing it cool

Danny Welbeck announced his arrival on the Premier League stage with a wonder goal in the 5-0 win over Stoke City, but the level-headed striker has promised to keep his feet firmly on the ground.

Welbeck doesn’t turn 18 until the end of this month, but he has already caused a stir among those in the know with some exciting displays in the Carling Cup this season. But to score on his Premier League debut is the biggest indication yet of the talent he possesses.

“It feels amazing,” he told MUTV after the game. “Scoring in front of the Stretford End is what every young boy from Manchester dreams of. I loved it. I wouldn’t say I’ve dreamt about it, but I’ve thought about it every day of my life ever since I started playing football. There’s nothing better.”

The goal, a shot from 30 yards which flew into the top corner, also shows his limitless confidence in his own ability. “I got the ball on the edge of the centre-circle and I knew Ryan Shawcross was behind me. I played a one-two with Manucho, took a touch and just thought, ‘I’m going to hit it’.

“I was just relieved to see it hit the back of the net. I’m not going to lie, I’ve seen replays of it a few times already!”

But he’s not getting too carried away. “I’m sure the manager will help me keep my feet on the ground but I’m quite level-headed anyway, so I’ll just take it all in my stride. I just want more opportunities. It’s made me hungry for more. Playing with these players in the first team – there’s no better experience. I’m willing to learn and improve as much as I can as a player.”

Manchester United Vs. Stoke City Match Report

United’s class shone through with a masterclass of a performance that yielded five goals in the Reds’ biggest win of the season.

Cristiano Ronaldo struck twice from free-kicks, while Michael Carrick, Dimitar Berbatov and Danny Welbeck chipped in with the other goals. Stoke were well and truly beaten: outplayed and outclassed.

United were without Wayne Rooney, who has been suffering with a chest infection all week, and Rio Ferdinand – a major loss when you consider the aerial threat Stoke pose. No doubt with that in mind, Sir Alex selected height in his team. John O’Shea lined up at right-back alongside Nemanja Vidic and Jonny Evans, with Cristiano Ronaldo, Darren Fletcher and Michael Carrick in midfield all over 6ft.

It was a good job as Stoke’s play favours the aerially adept. The first five minutes was more like a game of head tennis. But while much of the pre-match talk was devoted to the main weapon in Rory Delap’s armoury, people seemed to have forgotten all about Cristiano Ronaldo’s speciality – the dipping, swerving free-kick.

Five minutes in, Abdoulaye Faye’s foul on Carlos Tevez gave Ronaldo the chance to showcase his talents. The foul was 30 yards from goal in line with the edge of the penalty area, and Ronaldo’s trademark run-up and unique style of striking the ball yielded the desired result: a shot that shifted so wickedly that Thomas Sorensen lost track of its flight and the ball crashed into the roof of the net. It was the Portuguese winger’s 100th United goal, and one to savour.

It took until the 12th minute for Stoke to get a throw-in deep in United’s half. A delay in taking the throw added an almost pantomime feel; Stoke cheering in fevered anticipation and United fans in the Stretford End booing. The embanked touchlines at Old Trafford don’t favour the throw-in expert, but the delivery was still dangerous, flicked on at the front post with Edwin van der Sar clawing it away from goal.

Stoke’s fans were certainly giddy – “stand up if you beat Arsenal” they sang, before endlessly taunting Ronald. But their supporters are enjoying their time in the top flight as much as the team, so it’s difficult to begrudge them –annoying though United fans may have found them – particularly as they’re one of the more vocal away followings to have visited Old Trafford recently.

Ji-sung Park went close for the Reds two minutes before the break. A nice passing move across the edge of the area led to Carrick slipping a ball through to Park. The Korean controlled the ball and turned sharply in one movement, but his shot was too high and went over the bar.

United’s first half performance was steady, if not always penetrative. But just as it looked like the Reds would not add to the scoreline before the break, Carrick spliced open the Stoke defence again, this time with an unstoppable shot past Sorensen. Ronaldo did well out wide and slipped a pass to Carrick, whose powerful left-footed drive found a route through a crowd of yellow shirts into the top corner.

The Reds began the second half with renewed intent. Tevez’s lofted pass played Berbatov almost immediately after the restart. But the Bulgarian front man was eventually crowded out. Minutes later the same combination led to United’s third goal. Berbatov controlled Tevez’s cross before turning and drilling the ball past Sorensen.

The United fans in the old scoreboard end should be credited with one of the chants of the season: “You’ve only come to see your throw-in”, such was the excitement in the away end whenever the ball went out of play.

The constant banter with the Stoke fans created a buzz inside Old Trafford which added to the game as a spectacle. And United continued to plough forward. Ronaldo left Sorensen completed befuddled with another thundering free kick, while Tevez hungrily chased a goal.

Such was United’s comfort that Sir Alex brought on Danny Welbeck and Darron Gibson in place of Park and the outstanding Darren Fletcher. Welbeck’s late cameo brought another flourish in a game of goals to savour. Picking up the ball 35 yards from goal, the 17-year-old striker pressed forward before unleashing a screamer of a shot into the top corner – talk about making your mark, it was arguably the pick of the bunch.

Stoke may have learned many lessons on the biggest Premier League stage, one their fans may like to remember, mocking Ronaldo usually only leads to one outcome, and he delivered it with a second free-kick, this time from 20 yards and arrowed into the bottom corner.

Stoke are clearly an effective team – their results against Aston Villa, Arsenal and Liverpool this season illustrate that point – but as long as United matched their endeavour, the Reds’ sheer quality was bound to win through, which it did in all its glory.

Team Line-ups

United: Van der Sar; O'Shea, Vidic, Evans, Evra; Ronaldo, Fletcher (Gibson 63), Carrick, Park (Welbeck 63); Tevez (Manucho 75), Berbatov.
Subs not used: Foster, Anderson, Nani, Rafael.
Booked: Evra

Stoke City: Sorensen; Griffin (Wilkinson 78), Shawcross Ab.Faye, Higgingbothom; Olofinjana (Cresswell 32), Diao, Am.Faye, Delap; Sidibe, Fuller (Kitson 69).
Subs not used: Simonsen, Cort, Whelan, Tonge.
Booked: Fuller, Delap

Manchester United Vs. Stoke City Highlights Video Clip

Manchester United [5 - 0] Stoke City
4' [1 - 0] C. Ronaldo
45' [2 - 0] M. Carrick
49' [3 - 0] D. Berbatov
84' [4 - 0] D. Welbeck
89' [5 - 0] C. Ronaldo