Friday, January 28, 2022

Manchester United win the Community Shield as we all look forward to the new season

At Wembley yesterday afternoon Manchester United started this season in the exact same fashion as they ended last season. They did it by winning silverware courtesy of a penalty shoot-out. OK, the Community Shield might not have quite the importance of the Champions League, but the win will have sent a few messages out to their title rivals.

The first few minutes at Wembley were largely forgettable but United looked the more dangerous side. They played some lovely short passing football but lacked the killer instinct in the final third. One of the reasons for that was that they didn’t seem to be playing anyone up front! With Nani, Giggs and Tevez all turning up in midfield and on the wings, there were often no strikers visible at all.

The game went into half time goalless and although the football had not been great, there was plenty to talk about. Gary Neville played and delivered one sublime cross that reminded United and England what they have been missing. Nani produced his usual mixture of the sublime and the ridiculous. David James looked unconvincing at times and commanding at others and Darren Fletcher produced the season’s first comedy miss.

For Portsmouth, Jermaine Defoe and Peter Crouch showed that their partnership still needs some time to settle down and Sol Campbell and Glen Johnson had a half they would want to forget.

Manchester United continued to have the better of the second half and Carlos Tevez had an increasing influence on the game. The only thing lacking for United was a cutting edge with Giggs and Tevez playing up front there was no obvious target or focus.

There were plenty of chances for Manchester United and one or two for Portsmouth, but anything other than a United win would have been something of an injustice.

The game went to penalties and although Jermaine Defoe scored his, misses from the excellent Diarra, Mvuemba and Johnson meant a three one win for United for whom Tevez, Giggs and Carrick all made no mistake.

It was certainly not a classic game and both teams played with something of a pre-season air, but as Community Shield games go, it wasn’t too bad. At times it got quite feisty, suggesting that the victory was relatively important for both teams.

The reason I say that United sent an ominous message to the rest is that they petty much dominated this game against a side who are likely to be challengers for a European place. They did so without Hargreaves, Ronaldo and Rooney. Carrick only came off the bench and Wes Brown, from last season’s double winning team didn’t play.

With those players to come back and another striker likely to be purchased over the next few days, be it Berbatov, Henry or anyone else that has been linked, United look to be in pretty good shape.

I fancy Chelsea to take the title this season but United will still be the team to finish above.

As for Portsmouth, in Diarra they had the games best performer. It was a shame he skied his penalty because his performance deserved better. At the back they looked less than convincing with Distin often having to cover for a Sol Campbell who looked a shadow of his former self. Glen Johnson also won’t have done his England chances any good in front of the watching Fabio Capello. Up front, Defoe and Crouch may turn out to be an excellent partnership but on this evidence they will need to work hard in training.

Both managers will take some positives from this game and will be pleased to have had a fairly competitive workout. Harry Redknapp will be slightly concerned by his side’s lack of creativity and Sir Alex Ferguson will be slightly concerned by his side’s lack of a finishing touch to all they created.

So now we are ready for the Premier League season to begin. Everyone is ready and everything is set for the big kick off.

The Football League got off to a great start on Saturday and even my beloved Watford got a point at Crystal Palace which was more than I really expected.

Doncaster who were in League One last season won 1-0 at Derby who were in the Premier League last season. That would get my vote for the performance of the day.

I can’t remember being this excited about a football season and I fully expect the next few months to be a season to remember.

A great first day in the football league and a half decent Community Shield have followed a brilliant Euro 2008. The appetite for the season ahead is well and truly wetted!

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

Graham Fisher


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