Manchester United 4 Stoke 0

Darren Fletcher

Man­chester Uni­ted 4 Sto­ke City 0, Old Traf­ford Sta­dium, Eng­lish Pre­mier Lea­gue, May 9, 2010. Al­though Man­chester Uni­ted did well at Old Traf­ford de­feat­ing Sto­ke City 4-0, Chel­sea se­cured the Pre­miership crown af­ter beat­ing Wi­gan Ath­let­ic by 8-0 at Stam­ford Bridge. 

Man­chester Uni­ted had opened their 2009-10 Pre­mier Lea­gue cam­paign wi­th a nar­row 1-0 tri­umph over new­ly pro­moted Birm­ing­ham City at Old Traf­ford on 16th of Au­gust 2009. And al­though Uni­ted suf­fered a shock 1-0 loss at the hands of Burn­ley, an­oth­er top-flight new­comer, at Turf Moor three days la­ter, the club were back to their win­ning ways as they dis­mantled Wi­gan Ath­let­ic by 5-0 at DW Sta­dium the fol­low­ing week­end. Uni­ted then edged out Ar­senal by 2-1 at Old Traf­ford be­fore com­fort­ably over­com­ing Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur 3-1 at White Hart Lane. Af­ter beat­ing Man­chester City 4-3 at Old Traf­ford on the 20th of Septem­ber thanks to a brace by Dar­ren Fletch­er and a goal each from Way­ne Roo­ney and Mi­chael Owen, Man­chester Uni­ted climbed to the top of the Pre­miership ta­ble for the fir­st time in the sea­son and stayed there un­til they were de­feated 2-0 by Liver­pool at An­field on the 25th of Oct­ober. Uni­ted re­turned to the top of the ta­ble af­ter out­classing re­leg­a­tion can­did­ates Ports­mouth to the tune of 5-0 at Old Traf­ford on the 6th of Feb­ruary 2010, but fou­nd them­selves down to sec­ond po­s­i­tion fol­low­ing a 1-1 draw to As­ton Vil­la at Vil­la Park four days la­ter. Man­chester Uni­ted were back on top thanks to a clo­se 1-0 vic­tory over Wol­ves at Mo­lineux on the 6th of Mar­ch, but were sur­passed by Chel­sea af­ter suc­cumb­ing to a 2-1 loss to The Blues at Old Traf­ford on the 3rd of April. In their fi­nal mat­ch of the sea­son, Uni­ted over­came Sto­ke City 4-0 at Old Traf­ford, but it was not enough as Chel­sea out­classed Wi­gan Ath­let­ic 8-0 at Stam­ford Bridge to win the title by a single point ahead of The Reds. Ap­par­ently, the an­om­aly of at­tempt­ing to make The Pen­sion­ers an es­tab­lished power had worked.

In the re­verse meet­ing of the 2009-10 sea­son, Man­chester Uni­ted had beaten Sto­ke City 2-0 at Brit­an­nia Sta­dium cour­tesy of sec­ond pe­riod goals from Di­m­it­ar Ber­batov and John O´Shea. From the fir­st blow of mat­ch of­fi­cial Ma­rk Clattenburg´s whistle, Uni­ted con­trolled the ho­me mat­ch ag­ainst Sto­ke and nev­er lost their fo­cus in their last fix­ture of the sea­son. Af­ter 30 min­utes of ac­tion, Man­chester Uni­ted opened the scor­ing ac­count when a head­er from Ne­manja Vid­ic ri­co­cheted to Dar­ren Fletch­er who ham­mered the ball pa­st away shot stop­per As­mir Be­gov­ic and in­to the roof of the net. And even tho­ugh Ber­batov failed to ro­und off the cam­paign wi­th a goal, the marks­man de­livered the goods in the 38th min­ute of pro­ceed­ings when his ex­cel­lent cross ball made  36-year-old ever­green stal­wart Ry­an Gig­gs pro­duce his 155th goal for Man­chester Uni­ted. The Old Traf­ford te­am con­tin­ued to dom­in­ate the ga­me fol­low­ing the re­start and in the 54th min­ute of the tussle, Man­chester born Sto­ke fa­vour­ite Dan­ny Hig­gin­botham ma­naged to score an own goal as the for­mer Uni­ted de­fender sliced a clear­ance from a Way­ne Roo­ney cross in­to the back of the net. Ham­pered by groin and ankle prob­lems, how­ever, Roo­ney ev­entually limped off the pitch on­ly thir­teen min­utes from time wi­th Ji-Sung Park re­pla­cing him. The So­uth Korean in­ter­na­tion­al would ro­und off the ul­ti­mate fix­ture of the cam­paign in style, tho­ugh, as the mid­field man head­ed ho­me a well-taken flag-kick from Gig­gs wi­th just six min­utes re­maining on Clattenburg´s watch, ma­king the fi­nal score 4-0 in fa­vour of Sir Al­ex Ferguson´s United.

Not sur­pris­ingly really, there was plenty of noise from the in­creas­ingly angry and frus­trated ho­me fans at the end of the clash be­tween Man­chester Uni­ted and Sto­ke City due to a loud protest ag­ainst the some­what con­tro­ver­sial pro­pri­et­ors of the club. And in­ter­est­ingly enough, from a mere psy­cho­lo­gic­al view­point, sup­port­ers of foot­ball clubs of­ten feel they have a mor­al own­er­ship in the club they ac­tu­ally sup­port. Pan­em et cir­censes! Man­chester Uni­ted Te­am: Ed­win van der Sar, Ga­ry Ne­ville, Rio Fer­dinand, Ne­manja Vid­ic, Pat­rice Ev­ra, Paul Scho­les, Lu­is Nani, Ry­an Gig­gs, Dar­ren Fletch­er, Di­m­it­ar Ber­batov, Way­ne Roo­ney. Sub­stitutes: Jon­ny Evans, John O’Shea, Mi­chael Car­rick, Dar­ron Gib­son, Ji-Sung Park, Fe­d­erico Ma­cheda, Ben Fo­ster. Sto­ke City Te­am: As­mir Be­gov­ic, Dan­ny Hig­gin­botham, Ro­bert Huth, Andy Wilkin­son, Ry­an Shaw­cross, Rory De­lap, Mat­thew Eth­er­ing­ton, Glenn Whelan, Dean White­head, Ri­cardo Fuller, Ma­mady Sid­ibe. Sub­stitutes: Liam Law­rence, Dan­ny Collins, Ab­doulaye Faye, Dan­ny Pugh, Salif Diao, Tun­cay Sanli, Ste­ve Simonsen.


Darren Fletcher Quickfacts

Dar­ren Fletch­er played 342 ga­mes for Man­chester Uni­ted be­tween 2003 and 2015.


Man­chester Uni­ted 3 Ful­ham 0
Man­chester Uni­ted 2 Liver­pool 1
Bol­ton Wan­derers 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 4
Bay­ern Munchen 2 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 1 Chel­sea 2
Man­chester Uni­ted 3 Bay­ern Munchen 2
Black­burn Rov­ers 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 0
Man­chester City 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 1
Man­chester Uni­ted 3 Tot­ten­ham Hot­spur 1
Sun­der­land 0 Man­chester Uni­ted 1

Won: 7 Drawn: 1 Lost: 2

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