MICHAEL KIGHTLY is confident Stoke City will soon start to reap just rewards for their early season performances after showing plenty of promise in a particularly tough start to their fifth campaign in the Barclays Premier League.
The summer-signing from Wolverhampton Wanderers struck his second goal for the Club at Old Trafford this weekend, but that solo effort couldn’t prevent his side from eventually slipping to a 4-2 defeat at the hands of Manchester United.
The Potters have endured a challenging start to their Premier League campaign, facing title-holders Manchester City, European Champions Chelsea, Arsenal, Liverpool and most-recently United during the opening two months of the season.
Despite such a daunting early fixture schedule, the side have performed admirably, taking eight points from their eight fixtures thus far, of which only two have ended in defeat - a feat Kightly believes is a sign of the progression the Club.
“The gaffer has made some absolutely fantastic signings here this past summer and I think you can see that we are getting better each time we take to the field,” Kightly said in reflecting on the defeat at Old Trafford on Saturday afternoon.
“We’ve had an incredibly tough start to the season, given the fact that five of the eight teams we have faced are amongst the biggest in the Premier League - that’s not said with any disrespect to the other three Clubs we have played.
He added: “In my opinion we have had arguably the toughest start to the season out of any of the sides in the Premier League, but we have still managed to acquit ourselves well and pick up one or two good results along the way.
“Hopefully now, we can start turning good performances into wins; that is what we have to do. We’ve been unlucky not to have won games we maybe should have this season, but I’m sure we will turn those performances into victories in the not too distant future.”
Despite going into next weekend’s clash against Sunderland at the Britannia Stadium on the back Saturday’s defeat against United, Kightly feels the side can be buoyed by their showing against the Reds, having matched their more illustrious opponents throughout the encounter.
“Manchester United are a great team and they do have a lot of the ball, but for the first half an hour or so we were firmly on top and should really have been two goals up,” he commented.
“We took the lead, maybe somewhat fortuitously, but after that we had two or three good opportunities to add another goal or two to our tally.
“For us to come into the half-time interval behind in the game was an absolute travesty, to be honest, especially given the way we had controlled large parts of the first half.
“In the end I guess, United probably deserved their victory, and looked quite comfortable at the end, but there are positives we will take from the game as we prepare for Sunderland next weekend.”
The 26-year-old winger capped a lively showing against Sir Alex Ferguson’s side by grabbing his second goal for the Club in quite sublime fashion.
He acknowledges that his individual effort will be one which lives long in his memory, though he speaks of his disappointment at the fact that it wasn’t able to help the side to record a first-ever Premier League point at Old Trafford.
“From a personal point of view, scoring here at Old Trafford in front of 75,000 or so supporters is a great achievement, and it doesn’t tend to get much better than that.
“It was a nice goal and obviously I was delighted to see it go in, but the disappointing thing is that it doesn’t really count for much.”