Steve McClaren says he is expecting a ‘vibrant’ Stoke City team to St James Park this afternoon.

The United boss says that 14th placed Stoke have ‘an excellent manager, staff, players’, as once again he talks up the opposition.

When all the talk was of how tough the opening run of fixtures were, which exactly are the ‘easy/easier’ games if they don’t include Stoke City at home?

Steve McClaren also says that ‘In the long-term I can see this team winning games’ but adds he would ‘like’ to start winning against Stoke.

This reinforces a feeling for me that like those of us on the outside, those inside the club have major worries about getting through this season safely, with far more conviction that longer term things could go well if more decent signings are added to the likes of Mitrovic and Wijnaldum.

Steve McClaren talking ahead of the Stoke match:

“You don’t have to be a rocket scientist, or an expert in football, to know that we dominated that Sunderland game.

“We felt a lot of injustice. You can’t feel sorry for yourselves and have to get back to work. We have done that and I think the fans have moved on quickly.

“We have shown what we are capable of doing and at times our football is excellent, creating chances now, which we weren’t doing earlier in the season.

“So for me, in the long-term I can see this team winning games.

“In the short-term, we’d like to start winning tomorrow (v Stoke).

“We will expect a vibrant Stoke team, a very good Stoke team – an excellent manager, staff, players. Really taken the club on and stand an excellent chance of winning a cup.