Michael O’Neill responds to ‘harsh’ claim as Man Utd eye deal for Stoke City defender


O Neill on Luton

Michael O’Neill leapt to the defence of his players after their failure to hold on for victory in their increasingly precarious battle for survival at the foot of the Championship.

Stoke were close to pocketing all three points at Luton when they conceded a 90th minute penalty to leave themselves in danger of falling back into the bottom three if Middlesbrough beat Nottingham Forest tonight.

O’Neill admitted the final scoreline was painful to take, but insisted his players couldn’t have done much more, particularly at the end of a physically-draining three-game week.

Asked if they had thrown victory away at Kenilworth Road, he retorted: “That’s a bit harsh on the players. I thought first half we played really well and created more chances than the one goal we scored.”

United in for Collins?

Manchester United are scouting Stoke City defender Nathan Collins ahead of a potential move in the summer, according to reports in the national press.

United were linked with Collins during the summer window, who has built an impressive reputation, despite minimal senior appearances.


The 18-year-old was dropped by Michael O’Neill on Saturday, with James Chester replacing him for the 1-1 draw with Luton Town.

Collins has played nine times in the Championship, including the full 90 minutes in the midweek stalemate with Blackburn Rovers.

Sky Sports report that Old Trafford officials are ‘keeping an eye’ on Collins, who they see as a potential star for the future.

The fans on Collins links

David Evans: £30m plus add-ons or go away

Karl Stubbs: He will be first choice next season at Stoke. Maybe if we did sell him we could have him on loan for the season.

Andy Ferneyhough: £120m and Loan him back for 2 years


Alan Davies: Too inexperienced for Man United. What they need is a mature, experienced, international centre back. Funnily enough we have just the player… step forward Kevin Wimmer!

Phil Moston: He is bound to go if we get relegated

Chris Bloor: Collins wont go anywhere hes not getting game time at stoke he womt get it at utd hope we keep him and soutar

Paul Hansbury: He should of played from the start against luton no brainer .

Craig Barnett: Wouldn’t blame him if he’s dropped even when he plays well.

Gutted

Michael O’Neill admits Stoke City‘s draw with Luton Town on Saturday ‘feels like a defeat’.

The Potters lead for more than 81 minutes after Sam Vokes’ opener before James Collins was given the opportunity to score from the spot, a chance he duly took.

James Chester (far right) looks suitably forlorn after Luton’s equaliser

The draw leaves Stoke still in a precarious position, just two points above Middlesbrough in the final relegation spot and having played a game more.

Speaking after witnessing the sucker punch at Kenilworth Road, Potters boss O’Neill says his side’s draw against Luton felt like a defeat.

“It feels like a defeat, although it’s not, having dropped the two points,” the manager told Stoke City+.

Police complaints

Stoke City fans have complained of a heavy-handed ‘1980s-style’ police approach as they tried to make their way home from Luton Town.

A 1,040-strong Stoke following watched a 1-1 draw on Saturday afternoon but there have been claims they ‘were treated like cattle’ as they left the ground and then again for those who journeyed home on the train via London.

Martin Smith, StokeonTrentLive columnist and former Oatcake fanzine editor, explained on Twitter: “Today’s last gasp agony was made even worse by a shocking police operation outside the stadium which led to widespread trouble.

“They bottlenecked all the Stoke fans, allowing them to effectively ‘mob up’ and then did little to prevent home fans from goading 20 yards away. The result was as inevitable as the fleeing goaders.

“Just don’t need these antiquated 1980s approaches in this era. The fans would have naturally dissipated if left to their own devices. Very depressing.”

The Oatcake added in a further Tweet: “Following on from the ridiculous post match police tactics at Luton today, we’re hearing some pretty disturbing stories of police treatment towards Stoke fans at Euston and more disappointingly, on their return to Stoke station.”

The police presence surrounding Stoke supporters at Euston was enough for other passengers to question on social media about the ‘chaos’.





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