The Britannia Stadium is one of the Premier League's more hostile and intimidating venues – even for commentators.
As ever, myself and Paddy Crerand covered the game for MUTV on Saturday. Quite often, we are tucked away on a gantry or in a booth somewhere. But at Stoke, the commentary box is very close to the home fans. In fact they were in the row directly in front of us. To say the least, they were passionate!
Every time even a slightly contentious decision went United's way, one fan with an alarmingly intense stare would turn round to face me and Paddy and gave us a bit of an earful.
This man clearly didn’t realise that Paddy is a man who relishes an argument. More than once in the game, off came Paddy’s headphones, he put down the microphone and engaged in a, shall we call it, debate with the fan.
Indeed, MUTV viewers with pin-sharp hearing might have been able to pick up bits of this discussion in the background of my commentary. It was basically good-natured banter, but also more than a little off-putting.
By the end of the game all of the Stoke fans had quietened down, though. All you could hear was the United fans going through their full repertoire of witty songs - “It’s just like watching Port Vale” and “Where’s your famous atmosphere?” getting an airing.
Stoke looked incredibly limited. Tactics of “get nine outfield players behind the ball and pump it up to Kitson to see what he can do” deserved nothing and that’s what they got.
After last weekend’s defensive problems, United were back in rock solid mode again – Foster caught everything and Vidic and Ferdinand headed all the bombs that Stoke launched away.
In last week’s blog, I lavished praise on Ryan Giggs. I’ve got no option but to do that again today.
The Reds totally dominated the game on Saturday but just couldn't make it count until Giggs replaced Nani. A cool head and his intelligent use of the ball was what was required to unlock the door.
First he played in Berbatov for a tap-in, after Darren Fletcher's defence-splitting pass, then found the head of John O’Shea with a pin-point free kick. Job done. He could have scored himself if he’d converted Scholes’ wonderful pass.