The Potters prepared for Old Trafford by winning 2-0 at Derby County on Saturday in their 14th cup tie of the season so far, with the guarantee of at least three more to come in the FA Cup and Europa League. Commendably, their league form has not fallen by the wayside – like all of United’s next five domestic opponents, Stoke are in the top flight’s top nine and are not to be taken lightly.
“It's a big programme coming up for us,” admitted Sir Alex, in reference to Stoke at home, Chelsea away, Liverpool home, Norwich away and Spurs away.
“When I first looked at it, from the middle of January through to the end of February, it was quite a daunting programme. But then when you look back over the years, we've always had periods when you can say this is a must-win game and that's a must-win game. That's what we have to do this time.”
Manchester City have, by most people’s reckoning, an easier run of fixtures on paper from now until 4 March when United travel to Spurs. But does this put the league leaders at ease, or under pressure to take maximum points?
“I've no idea how City are feeling at the moment,” replied Sir Alex. “But it's important we keep on their coat tails.”
Ticket news: A number of returned match tickets for United vs Stoke City are now available. To book, call 0161 868 8000 or buy online at manutd.com/tickets.