Asmir Begovic says Stoke City are a work in progress on away missions
ASMIR Begovic admits Stoke are still trying to find the right balance between attacking on their travels and making sure they remain tight at the back.
Stoke had their fans in dreamland in the opening quarter of the game at Old Trafford on Saturday as they took the game to Manchester United and fully deserved the 1-0 lead they earned when Wayne Rooney headed Charlie Adam's 11th-minute free kick into his own net.
Rooney headed home a brilliant cross from Robin van Persie to equalise on 28 minutes before poor Stoke defending contributed to goals from van Persie and Welbeck a minute either side of the break, and for Rooney again on 65 minutes.
Manager Tony Pulis said his side had been let down by uncharacteristically sloppy defending, but he could still take consolation from City's terrific start to the game in which Adam, Peter Crouch and Jon Walters could have added further goals.
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Begovic said: "We started really well and, had we got that second goal in our good spell, then the game would have been much different. But they stayed in it, got the goal and from there they went on.
"But I think overall we can take positives from what we did in possession of the ball and the problems we created them.
"But obviously defensively we need to have a good week of work before Sunderland come to the Britannia on Saturday. It's not like us to be conceding that many goals.
"It's about finding the balance. It's nice to be adventurous and positive and try to cause them problems, but we have to be solid at the back and that is what we normally are."
At least Michael Kightly's 58th-minute strike gave Stoke further reward for their efforts in the 4-2 defeat.
Manchester United were the better side in the second half, but Stoke still came desperately close to scoring again when substitute Michael Owen hooked Adam's corner goalwards, only for Van Persie to deflect the shot inches over the bar with his head.
Tony Pulis said the defensive errors meant that Stoke's performance overall wasn't as good as their unlucky 1-0 away defeat at leaders Chelsea.
You could see his point because Stoke were on the ropes just after half time when it took a superb stop from Begovic to stop Jonny Evans heading United into a 4-1 lead.
But there were plenty of positives from Stoke going forward. Besides, you'd have you be a sausage short of an oatcake filling to think Pulis won't be working hard to fix Stoke's defensive wobbles in training this week.
They might have got away with the below-par defensive performance against lesser sides, but were up against it as Sir Alex Ferguson named a formidable starting line up, including the dazzling attacking quartet of Van Persie, Rooney, Danny Welbeck and Antonio Valencia.
Begovic said: "To be fair, some of the balls that Manchester United put in were of such good quality that sometimes it is difficult defending against them.
"I am sure that we could have done better from some of them, but sometimes the quality speaks for itself and you have to give United credit for that."