Ratings: Paul Pogba orchestrates Manchester United to a 3-0 victory over Stoke

Manchester United beat Stoke City 2-0 at Old Trafford in the Premier League on Monday evening. It took just nine minutes for United to take the lead after Antonio Valencia fired his shot past Jack Butland with his left foot after Paul Pogba set the Ecuadorian up with his eighth Premier League assist of the season. Stoke then started to get back into the game, and in some instances, David De Gea kept them out of it.

United spent much of the first half of the game attacking with Stoke getting some action at the other end of the pitch. United doubled their lead in the 38th minute of the match with Anthony Martial scoring his tenth goal of the season, Pogba assisting again – his ninth assist of the Premier League season.

United started the second half in the same form as they ended the first, pressuring this manager-less Stoke side. Juan Mata found the back of the net but it was ruled out for offside. United did find a third through Romelu Lukaku, who scored his 17th goal of the season in the 72nd minute, assisted by Martial.

United made a double substitution in the 80th minute with Marouane Fellaini and Marcus Rashford replacing Jesse Lingard and Martial, the Frenchman a contender for the Man of the Match award. In the 83rd minute of the match, Jose Mourinho made his third and final substitution with Scott McTominay replacing Mata.

Pogba, the Man of the Match for me with two assists and his continued drive in midfield, tried to set up a third goal of the evening, sending the ball into the box for Rashford in the 85th minute, the 20-year-olds flick being thwarted by Butland. United has risen to the challenge, whether it is because of their warm-weather training camp in Dubai or an impending transfer into the club, who knows.

United ended the match with a 3-0 victory, another three points and more importantly, three points to cut the deficit from 15 points to 12 points after 23 matches this season. I don’t imagine City to be flustered by this but another defeat or even a run of matches in which they drop points could see complacency hit. The season is not over yet. Not by a long shot!

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Man of the Match: Paul Pogba

The Frenchman showed his class against this Stoke City side. His two assists in the first half took him to nine assists in the Premier League this season, in the 13 matches he has played a part in. Manchester City’s Kevin De Bruyne and Leroy Sane both have nine assists in the league this season but with the former playing 23 times and the latter playing 21 times.

Pogba is the player who has it all and is a big miss for United when he is not a part of the team, whether it be because of injury or suspension – both of which have seen him miss many matches this season. No matter what people like Graeme Souness say, Paul Pogba has what it takes to achieve things at the highest level of the game.

Manchester United

1 David De Gea

The Spanish number one had a good game. Made one great save thwarting Shaqiri's effort - yet did not have much to do for much of the match.


25 Antonio Valencia

Scored the opening goal of the match from his left foot, assisted by Pogba. Did what was needed during the match.


4 Phil Jones

Put in a great block to deny Stoke from a goalscoring opportunity. Defended well. Good to see him play to this standard.


Chris Smalling

The England man was put under pressure at times, but did well to overcome that pressure.


23 Luke Shaw

It was another strong performance for Shaw, but there is still a bit of a way to go before he really hits the best of his abilities. Can't fault him though, he really got stuck into the game.


31 Nemanja Matic

The Serbian did well against Stoke but he did have a few moments where it could have been a moment to forget for United. Overcame that though and helped his side take the win.


6 Paul Pogba

Man of the Match for me. Two assists, both in the first half for Valencia and Martial. Continued to show his class throughout the game. He really is the real deal, not that many will see that as he plays for United.


8 Juan Mata

The Spanish magician gave his side lots of creativity and was very busy with United showing an attacking performance. Was accused of diving, but actually slipped, not that it matter to the Stoke fans who abused anyway, bless them. They can't help being from Stoke.


14 Jesse Lingard

Put in a decent display in the victory and played a great dummy for Valencia's goal. He will still get slated, but continues to give his all for his club, a club he loves and wants to succeed at.


9 Anthony Martial

The Frenchman was a contender for Man of the Match, but was beaten by Pogba in this match. He gave Stoke's defence a tough game which his brilliance. His stroke on goal was sublime to put United 2-0 up.


Romelu Lukaku

United £75 million summer signing scored his 17th goal of the season with a great strike to beat Butland. He needs to get involved with the opposition defence a little more. Good to see him back scoring though.



27 Marouane Fellaini

Replaced Lingard 80'. Came on to give United more midfield strength and physicality. He may be counting down the matches at United though.


10 Marcus Rashford

Replaced Marial 80'. Unlucky not to get a goal within minutes of coming on but Butland thwarted the effort.


39 Scott McTominay

Replaced Mata 83'. Came on late and got stuck in. Not enough time to get his hands on the game though.


Goals: Antonio Valencia 9′, Anthony Martial 38′, Romelu Lukaku 72′

Assists: Paul Pogba 9′, 38′, Anthony Martial 72′

Manchester United: De Gea; Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Shaw; Matic, Pogba; Mata (McTominay 83′), Lingard (Fellaini 80′), Martial (Rashford 80′); Lukaku

Substitutes Not Used: J. Pereira; Lindelof, Rojo; Herrera

Bookings: Jesse Lingard 63′, Romelu Lukaku 68′

Confirmed Starting XI: Valencia is back, Shaw starts again, Martial fit

Manchester United take on Stoke City in the Premier League at Old Trafford this evening, the second time the two clubs will have met this season. At the start of the season, Stoke were the first team to take points of United in a 2-2 draw with former manager Mark Hughes’ side dominating Jose Mourinho’s side at times. It was a result that shocked United after winning their first three matches of the season by scoring ten goals and conceding none.

Now Hughes has now been sacked as Stoke manager with Paul Lambert being announced earlier today, which was a puzzling appointment. United started 2018 with two good victories; a 2-0 win over Everton at Goodison Park on New Year’s Day in the Premier League, which was followed by a 2-0 victory over Derby County in the Emirates FA Cup at Old Trafford just over a week ago. During the ten days between matches, United embarked on a warm-weather training camp in Dubai, which seemed to go well for the club.

Manchester United:

De Gea;

Valencia, Jones, Smalling, Shaw;

Matic, Pogba;

Mata, Lingard, Martial;



J. Pereira; Lindelof, Rojo; Herrera, Fellaini, McTominay; Rashford

Manchester United and Stoke City have played 107 matches in the history of both clubs, the first match played on the 7th January 1893 – a 7-1 defeat for Newton Heath. In total, United have won 43 matches, drawn 36 and lost 28 matches. The last defeat for United on the 26th December 2015, a 2-0 defeat with Bojan Krkić and Marko Arnautović both scoring in the first half of the match. Earlier this season, United suffered a 2-2 draw away to Stoke, something they need to get the better of this evening to gain ground on Manchester City, who lost to Liverpool on Sunday.

Borthwick-Jackson falling short on loan – what next?

Manchester United left-back Cameron Borthwick-Jackson was loaned to Wolverhampton Wanderers for the entire 2016/17 season. Under former Wolves manager Walter Zenga, the now 20-year-old made seven appearances for Wolves in the EFL Cup and the Championship. Borthwick-Jackson was booked twice in those matches but has yet to feature again for the first team under the management of Paul Lambert. Under the guidance of Louis van Gaal at United, Borthwick-Jackson made 14 first team appearances with Luke Shaw on the sidelines through injury during the 2015/16 season at the club. The then 19-year-old settled well and did what he needed to do on the pitch, even when introduced in the 42nd minute away to Liverpool at Anfield – with United earning a 1-0 victory late in the match.

Borthwick-Jackson was tipped to make a meteoric rise from the youth setup at United, earning regular first team appearances, which would have helped his development. The sacking of Van Gaal and the arrival of Jose Mourinho was something that stopped that from happening, with the player being told he was surplus to requirements this season and that he could go out for the entire season on loan. Many thought a Premier League team would be the destination for Borthwick-Jackson, who had proved that he was capable of playing in that league. When Wolves were touted as his destination, and the Championship being a tough league, it was expected that he would do well and his rise to fame would be helped implicitly. Things have not been going all that well for Borthwick-Jackson though.

Wolves manager Lambert was quoted by the Express and Star about the 20-year-old being short of match fitness and needing to do a lot more to get into the first team this season. Lambert said:

“I think Cameron [Borthwick-Jackson] is falling short at the minute. He would have to show a lot more. He’s doing alright in training but there’s more he has to do. It’s a bit of lack of fitness as well, even though he’s played in the under-23s. At this moment in time, he needs more.”

Borthwick-Jackson last played for the Wolves first team on the 5th November 2016 in a 3-2 defeat at home to Derby County. Since then, Lambert has preferred Matt Doherty or even George Saville ahead of Borthwick-Jackson, which has been described as a lack of match fitness – which can only be changed with the player getting matches, whether at first team or U23 level. Borthwick-Jackson has played for Wolves U23’s this season, but more recently he has played for Nicky Butt’s U23 side back at United. In the 3-1 victory over Sunderland on Monday evening, Borthwick-Jackson played 90 minutes, doing the same a few weeks previous as United bowed out of the Premier League International Cup with a 2-0 defeat to Porto. The stuttering nature of his career thus far could cause problems for Borthwick-Jackson, who will be under scrutiny by Mourinho as he looks to finalise his squad for next season, where United will be expected to challenge for the Premier League title.

Another loan spell for the 20-year-old may be on the cards, possible with a more solid structure being set up for the player – an agreed number of matches to be played in the first team, a recall clause being placed in the agreement should that not happen, which was presumed to be part of the loan agreement at Wolves this season. Many expected Borthwick-Jackson to be recalled by United during the January transfer window, but that never happened. This season has been a write-off for Borthwick-Jackson, who may well be looking for another club next season, whether permanently, or for another loan spell. What has happened at Wolves may see a lower level club be more beneficial for the player, as it will be seen as the player who has not been putting in the work, not the loan club, which could well be the case.

The fact that Borthwick-Jackson was playing well in the United first team last season, to not playing at all for Wolves, a team struggling in the Championship this season, seems very strange. Why would a player who in effect established himself in the United first team, throw it all away whilst on loan? There would at least be a 50/50 responsibility for the player doing so badly, but Paul Lambert seems to blame the player, which could well be the case. It would seem that Borthwick-Jackson may have a battle on his hands to earn himself a career in the world of football, with his career at United seemingly hanging in the balance.

It would be unfair to say Borthwick-Jackson may fail at United, as three days after becoming the new United manager, Mourinho, presumably, gave the go-ahead to sign Borthwick-Jackson to a new contract, which would keep him at the club until June 2020, with the option of a further year being added on. Mourinho would need to look at the player himself, see what makes him tick and see if he would fit into his plans. Writing him off after this failed loan spell would be tough and also something that could come back and bite the club. Another loan spell may well be on the cards into next season, but with Luke Shaw struggling to make the left-back position his own and Mourinho confirming that Daley Blind, Marcos Rojo, and Matteo Darmian were all ahead of the former Southampton man, would suggest that Borthwick-Jackson may have a look in next season.

This will certainly be an interesting one to watch. If Borthwick-Jackson can fight his way back into the Wolves first team, it will show Mourinho what he has, which may well define his Manchester United career.

Written by Mike Wilson

copyright: JW