Simon Lowe: Potters beaten, but there's cause for optimism
IT'S not often you can feel quite so good after a defeat. Especially one in which four goals are conceded.
But Stoke's display at Old Trafford was heartening in its positivity.
Stoke were the better side for half an hour, it was the two goals either side of the break that won the game for United.
Uncharacteristically, City were caught out in failing to deal with crosses for all four goals. It wasn't Shawcross's finest hour, but perhaps that means Sir Alex will look elsewhere when he has to shore up his defence.
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Another silver lining, then. Because the main one from Saturday was how Stoke took the game to United on their own patch for long periods.
The central midfield is coming into its own and works very nicely way from home.
There were still some questions for me, however.
When Michael Owen appeared why did he spend so much time in midfield with Stoke needing to chase the game more? I really can't see Owen fitting into that withdrawn striker role. Plan B, therefore, needs more work.
Nice though as it was to see Wilson Palacios take the field, his introduction completed a set of substitutions which saw both wide players withdrawn and only Matthew Etherington on the pitch giving width. Why?
That brings us to the very thorny subject of Jermaine Pennant's loan to Wolves.
What a fall from grace this extremely talented footballer has undergone. As a key member of the side which reached the Cup final and took Stoke into Europe, Pennant has been reduced to rediscovering himself in the Championship at Molineux.
It's fair to say that Jermaine is no stranger to pressing the self-destruct button. He's done it enough over his career. But I for one hope that there is a way back for Jermaine at Stoke.
Pennant is one of the best right-sided midfielders in the Premier League on his day.
He was outstanding for much of 2011 and can rediscover that form again.
Of course Tony Pulis has a reputation for unearthing forgotten rough diamonds and polishing them up again.
Indeed signing Jermaine from Spain was one such rescue act. So perhaps the door isn't closed for Pennant at Stoke.
I'd like to think that he can rediscover himself at Wolves and return to the Brit with the right attitude and ready to burn up the Premier League come January.
Let's just hope as the team progresses Pennant isn't completely left behind.