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New faces but same old United

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Chris Bevan | 21:39 UK time, Sunday, 7 August 2011


There may have been a few unfamiliar faces wearing red shirts during Manchester United's thrilling win over Manchester City in the Community Shield, but there was nothing new about the manner Sir Alex Ferguson's men went about their Wembley victory.

Resilience and a never-say-die attitude have become a trademark of Ferguson's teams in his 25 years in charge at Old Trafford and, while we will learn more about the quality of the latest squad he has built over the course of the coming season, his players proved by recovering from two goals down to beat City on Sunday that they have the appetite for the sort of fightback that their manager relishes.

We saw the continuation of another recognisable Ferguson tradition too - his willingness to turn to youth. His team had an average age of 22 by the time Nani ran clear to snatch victory deep into injury time, and for 20 minutes before Dimitar Berbatov's late cameo, 26-year-old Ashley Young was the oldest United player on the pitch.

Sir Alex Ferguson's young stars turned the game in United's favour. Photo - Getty

All three of United's young summer signings were on by then - Ashley Young, Phil Jones and David de Gea - but a crop of home-grown talent in Tom Cleverley, Danny Welbeck and Jonny Evans also played a large part in outplaying City.

Cleverley, who turns 22 later this week, and Welbeck, 20, have had limited opportunities at Old Trafford in the past, spending last season out on loan at Wigan and Sunderland, but they showed against City they have what it takes to be part of Ferguson's plans for the future.

Welbeck, who was called up into the England squad this week to face the Netherlands, led the line for 89 minutes on his first senior appearance for United since January 2010.

Cleverley was, with Jones and Evans, one of three half-time substitutes who helped turn the tide, making some assured touches and notably playing a part in the slick passing move that led to Nani's equaliser.

"Both of them started here and then gone out on loan, and to come back to United is another big step," explained United defender Chris Smalling afterwards. "We have seen in other games this pre-season that the manager is prepared to give them a chance and we have seen again against City that they are good enough."

Ferguson said in his post-match media conference that he has "trust and confidence" in all his young players, and clearly that works both ways - his players respond to the faith he puts in them.

"That's why he's one of the best managers there is," Smalling added. "He is not afraid to make changes or put on young players. Then it's just down to us to put on a performance."

Smalling, 21, who filled in at right-back at Wembley to combat City's formidable physical presence, was brought to Old Trafford from Fulham for £7m in 2010 as part of Ferguson's recently implemented 'buy young and/or buy British' transfer policy.

That has continued with Jones, De Gea and Young, who showed with a series of rapid raids down the wing that he already feels at home in a United shirt.

De Gea's debut was less assured, especially when he was beaten by Edin Dzeko's long-range drive for City's goal, but Smalling was impressed by his new team-mate's reaction.
"He will learn from things like that and he made some good saves in the second half. It was good to see he is not going to let things get him down."

This United side has not had a complete overhaul, of course. Yes, Paul Scholes and Edwin van der Sar are gone but the spine of the side that has won the Premier League for four of the last five seasons remains, and with it that winning mentality that chases more success.

We should not get carried away by the significance of United's win, even if it does appear to strike a psychological blow ahead of the new season. After all, Ferguson himself describes the Shield as merely a "stepping stone" towards the start of the new season.

But the new generation of United talent seems to view trophies in the same way as their predecessors - that they are there to be won.

"Expectations never drop at this club and I don't think the manager would ever let that happen," Smalling stated. "We want to win everything, that's the aim and that's what we are all striving for."


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  • Comment number 1.


  • Comment number 2.

    same old united? more like new improved united! United are a club that refuse to stand still and we can thank Fergie for that. I have watched all united's pre season matches and they are ready and fresh and raring to go... Nani's second goal...Barcelona eat your heart out!! United have already scored a couple of goals like that in pre season...Premiership beware

  • Comment number 3.

    2. At 00:26 8th Aug 2011, pezzerman wrote:
    same old united? more like new improved united! United are a club that refuse to stand still and we can thank Fergie for that. I have watched all united's pre season matches and they are ready and fresh and raring to go... Nani's second goal...Barcelona eat your heart out!! United have already scored a couple of goals like that in pre season...Premiership beware


    Yep, well put- couple of good points there. I'm personally delighted- as every City fan in the world is saying, "its just the community shield"- Point taken but City did field their strongest possible team from start to finish. We looked much fresher and to be honest exciting times lie ahead for us devils. Compared to ours of 22 at the end, I'd like to have seen City's average age. It was also nice to win at Wembley because I was at the FA cup semi and I was so gutted.

    Another thing that excited me was the amount of future international stars we had out there. Welbeck could lead the line for England in the future- Jones and Smalling will be the cb's- both I was very impressed with and Cleverly could be pulling the strings. Evans is defo in line for NI captain- and the twins are still very young. De gea will, although not having the best debut, be Spain no 1 in the future-- United can develop players physique- look at Hernandez-- De Gea will be conditioned and moulded into the roll and he is starting from a very high level considering he is only 20

    Also well said above about pre season-- we have looked dangerously sharp!

    I'm excited and have no reason not to be smug about it for the future!!


  • Comment number 4.

    A ferociously competitive start to the new season with United deservedly running out winners. They were fitter and sharper than Mancini's squad, but make no mistake - City will be no pushovers this year.

    They have a brutally physical defense who are tough to score on, but from Ferguson's point of view, his young line-up in that second half just brushed off those tough challenges and simply ran City ragged.

    It's clear that De Gea will need some time to settle as he was at fault for both goals. He looked unsure in the US on tour and he will need help, but there is no doubt, that with or without any new signings, Ferguson has assembled a formidable squad that will resume where they left off last season.

    One other observation today was how well the England players performed. We have some excellent central defenders coming through and with Welback, Hart, Jones, Smalling, and Lescott all shining, all we need now is an England manager to do them justice.

  • Comment number 5.

    United are notoriously slow starters and don’t usually hit form until after Christmas. But they look sharp and raring to go already. And with Chicharito and Valencia still to come back, things are looking bright.

    Special mention to Tom Cleverly today who I thought was outstanding when he came on. He and Jack Wilshire have the potential to be England’s first choice midfield pairing for the next 10 years – time to phase out 30-somethings Gerrard and Lampard.

  • Comment number 6.

    Well... United win the annual Michael Mouse Trophy and suddenly it's a new era and they're better than Barca?

    United fans are so ignorant.

    When the going gets tough the likes of Young, Wellbeck, Cleverley and Co will be looking on from the bench - Grandad might play attacking in nonsense friendly games but when it comes to the crunch he's the ultimate safe.

    City or Chelsea for the league.

    Barca or Real for the CL.

  • Comment number 7.

    It may just have been a case of the occasion getting to De Gea a bit too much in the first half, but he will learn from his mistakes and he will become a great keeper for United. The future is bright for United though, especially at centre half with Evans, Jones and Smalling all looking very assured at such a young age.

  • Comment number 8.

    I'm a Liverpool fan but I was heartened by United's win today. Much as I generally take no small measure of glee when United slip up it's satisfying to see a proper team with a rich and glorious heritage beat another team which hopes, perhaps not without good cause, to challenge for the top honours with sheer spending power.

    This applies even more so with Chelsea, whose history of success doesn't really stretch back much further than Abramovich's bankrolling beginning, and I know that Manchester City's past does contain some halcyon days. I also acknowledge that United are hardly without wealthy benefactors of their own. Nor, for that matter, are Liverpool these days, even if to a lesser extent. That's the modern game, sadly.

    But it's just good to know that even when there are clubs with seemingly no limit on their spending they can still be outplayed and outclassed by a side with a better manager, better tactics and a better team as a whole, not on an individual basis. Despite the embarrassment of talent supposedly within City's squad they still play boring and stifling football, in stark contrast to United's free-flowing, attacking style. The banner reading "England's Barcelona" amongst the City fans was slightly embarrassing.

    Right, that's the last nice thing you'll see me say publicly about United this year! But once again they're the team to beat this season. That new 'keeper looks a bit suspect though - long may that continue! ;)

  • Comment number 9.

    Well... United win the annual Michael Mouse Trophy and suddenly it's a new era and they're better than Barca?

    United fans are so ignorant.

    When the going gets tough the likes of Young, Wellbeck, Cleverley and Co will be looking on from the bench - Grandad might play attacking in nonsense friendly games but when it comes to the crunch he's the ultimate safe.

    City or Chelsea for the league.

    Barca or Real for the CL.


    Considering it was mostly our new and young players, yeah, its the start of the new era. Do you know what an era is? What exactly defines a new era for you? As for being better than Barca... No-one has said that but nice try lol

    As for "Grandad" playing it safe this season... Its clearly not going to be the case. The whole point of keeping Welbeck, Cleverly, and Macheda with the team this season is to bring them through as their ready for the step up. This is classic Fergie and he has done it over and over. This is why we're the most successful team in England.

    City wont win it, still not strong enough. Nearly but not yet. Chelsea have a good shout but I'm doubtful as their team is getting very old.

    To be honest, I'm much more worried about Liverpool this year.

  • Comment number 10.

    #8 seems to think that the only teams who deserve to win trophies are teams who have won trophies in the past.

    What a clown.

  • Comment number 11.

    joan-burton...u call united fans ignorant yet you are showing signs of great ignorance yourself by tipping only chelsea or city for the league.. i wouldnt put you quite in the category of Piers Morgan who said United wouldnt finish in the top 4 last year but still...with the spine of the squad in tact bar the retiring scholes and Van Der Sar..the young stars beginning to shine will only add to the team that won the league by 9 or so points last year!

    better than Barca? that remains a challenge but so far, Tom Cleverley ran the show quite well against Iniesta and co in pre season too! ok, it was only a pre-season game but the point is that united are looknig more promising already than they were last season.

  • Comment number 12.

    #9 don't even get me started on Macheda - biggest myth since Luke Chadwick

  • Comment number 13.

    City wont win it, still not strong enough. Nearly but not yet. Chelsea have a good shout but I'm doubtful as their team is getting very old.

    To be honest, I'm much more worried about Liverpool this year.
    i find myself agreeing with you, Arsenal could be contenders (big could and they still need reinforcements) unless they sell Fabregas/Nasri in which case i don't see them competing.

    Man utd
    Man City

    wouldn't put it past the top 5 finishing like that to be honest

  • Comment number 14.

    #9, you are almost right in everything you said, although i dont believe macheda is going to make it. I do hope im wrong.
    Liverpool our biggest challengers, but im confident we shall be collecting title number 20 come may 2012

  • Comment number 15.

    Manchester United's 2nd goal was like watching a FIFA 11 demo. But I think some Manu fans are getting carried away but who can blame them? They'll be schooled if they are meet Barcelona yet again and Mourinho's Real Madrid will also oust them. For the premiership, It's going to be a 3-horse race with Chelsea & Man City. Chelsea's last 6 contract deals have been Lucas Piazon, Josh MacEachran, Ryan Bertrand, Thibaut Courtois, Oriol Romeu and now Romelu Lukaku. Just like ManU, Chelsea are beginning to look for youth. People write off this Blues team as being old but I still think they have a few years in them & came close to winning the title had they not had a poor run in November they could have been playing City.

  • Comment number 16.

    Joan with your comments at 6 you already made it clear you are just trying to be provocative, and now with your comment at 10 you are showing you can't even understand a posting. Nowhere does the Liverpool poster say teams who have won trophies in the past are the only ones to deserve to win them in the future. Even as a United fan but there was no doubt when Chelsea had 95 points and 91 points in successive seasons they were deservec winners and it had been 50 years since they had won previously. Even longer than City who I suppose you support.

    No United fan can think they are at Barcelona's level yet, but we are striving to build a generation that will compete. The 2nd goal today was a class goal that Barcelona would have been proud of. It is still pre season, but City did not play this as a pre season game, they were very fortunate not to see at least 1 red card. The ref was trying to keep it a pre season game. If Richards tackles during the season like he did on Young in the first 25 minutes he will be red cared and rightly so.

    A very encouraging day for the Red half of Manchester - just accept it instead of showing yourself up!

  • Comment number 17.

    @6. Celebrating mickey mouse cup? yeah right! I think we United fans should be crying any time we win a game for us not to be ignorant. Even that wont be enough for the haters!

    Most United fans agreed we are not better than Barca, but thanks for reminding us.

    As for the Game, yes United won but we need to send Evans & Carrick to Sunderland to complete the deadwood clear out. Carrick only pass back and sideways, As for Evans, he will cause us many points away from home this season.

    Bring on the new season!. Banters apart. any of the big five could win it. But United4Life!

  • Comment number 18.

    The difference between United and City is when United were comprehensively beat by the better side, Barcelona, it's clear that they learned from the experience, and used some of that knowledge today to simply nullify the physicality of the City defence and midfield by passing round it.

    Mancini and City, although being comprehensively beat today won't learn anything and will continue to play the same have and hold style. If they're to get anywhere they need to start playing with a more positive attacking team spirit, otherwise all the funds in world won't help.

  • Comment number 19.

    United looked promising, coming back from 2-0 down was probably the biggest positive to take away, this young team have some fight in them and a winning mentality. Nani looks like he's improving even more, so another good sign for Utd fans like myself.

    De Gea's debut was shaky and he was at fault for both goals, but I have a lot of faith and belief in him and his talents, and clearly SAF does too (he wouldn't spend near £20m if he didn't).

    Think one more signing would help, an attacking midfielder or someone like that. Sneijder's name has been thrown around and heavily touted, and that would be amazing. But they should take this opportunity to buy more youth, their squad atm is very strong, so they should continue to look to the future. With this in mind, I think SAF should sign Mario Gotze from Borussia Dortmund. 18 years old and Beckebauer has caalled him "Germany's Messi". Big words from a legend of the game, and although he's nowhere near Messi atm, he could be in the top 10 players in a few years. And he could be bought for half of what Sneijder would cost. So c'mon SAF, sign him up!

    Liverpool's hopes rest on Suarez, and I think he will deliver. Class act and amazing all round player. Man City will be close, but dont have the team mentality or the experience. Chelsea will always be close, but I think they will slip to 3rd. Liverpool 4th and City 2nd. Arsenal and Tottenham are too close right now, especially if Arsenal lose Fabregas and Nasri, which looks likely (Fabregas anyway).

    Utd fans and all other fans will all have theire own opinions, and this is just mine. New to this BBC commenting lark, so feedback would be pleasant and helpful :)

    Also right now Barca are the best team in the world bar none.

    Great blog btw

  • Comment number 20.

    I have to say that I was mightily impressed with Tom Cleverley this afternoon, he's come back from Wigan a better player - just like Jack Wilshere did from Bolton. Strange that two meat-pie teams from the North can help to produce some of the best players at the best teams (Antonio Valencia as well...) do they put something in the bovril?

    We had Nicky Ajose at Bury last season, and whilst he was good for us, I can't see him making the grade at United. He looks at the moment to be no more than a League One player, who might get better in the future.

    I wonder if Federico Macheda (who looks like he was born on Easter Island) has come back from Italy with a new hunger, because he seemed to really fall away after his impressive start at United. Perhaps he believed the hype a bit too much!

    United have some really exciting young players right now, and more coming through. There was talk of players like Ravel Morrison coming into the senior squad this year - although I have a feeling he'll be shipped out unless he can sort his mental attitude out. Too much trouble for one so young!

  • Comment number 21.

    Phil @1-03.
    Wonderful comment from you..and if it's one thing I have missed these last few years is a full on campaign from you scousers. Whilst it's not a normal thing to admit,most Utd fans would rather see Liverpool contending than the cockney's or the berties.It's a shame some fans take our Northern rivalry too far!
    And to those citeh fans who proclaim yesterday's game was a friendly..I have watched M/cr derbies at all level's for 43yrs..and there is no such thing as a friendly!
    One thing that was glaringly obvious about the game was the football produced. Whilst Utd was one touch and off the peg(?),Citeh's modus operendi seemed anti football..a defensive game designed to contain and destroy,hence the 5 bookings and a shameful lunge from Richards.
    It seems that without Tevez,citeh have no class.
    On my beloved Utd side..the youthfullness of Welbeck,Jones,Smalling,Cleverley,De Silva and Anderson point to a bright future,not forgetting a 22yrs old Hernandez and an ancient 25yrs old Rooney.
    With the youth team of last season providing a mirror of the class of '92..I hope I can envisage more glory from Manchester's senior club.
    Good luck to all bar one of the premier clubs this season and may the football produced be better than ever.

  • Comment number 22.

    barcelona and real madrid are the only teams i'd be worried about united playing. premiership will be a tight one, everyones forgetting aguero (and tevez if he stays), probably gonna be citehs most dangerous player wasn't there. love to see aguero, silva, johnson, toure and tevez in one line up (not against man u) but mancini would probably think of some way to keep them playing defensively.

    i don't think utd need sneijder as much as someone to replace hargreaves - never properly done - as a destroyer in midfield who can pass the ball. hopefully tunnicliffe comes back from peterbrough ready to go like cleverley and welbeck. scholes reckons he was the best of the fa youth cup winning side last year

  • Comment number 23.

    I see Joan Burton is up to their usual stupid tricks of making up ridiculous assumptions (and being...well...just stupid really) such as 'Well... United win the annual Michael Mouse Trophy and suddenly it's a new era and they're better than Barca?'

    Says more about the stupidity of resident plum Burton, than it does about the people its aimed at, funnily enough.

  • Comment number 24.

    It wasn't about winning what is a very minor trophy it was about putting-on a performance and setting down a marker for the season and Utd did that with stlye. Utd were on top from start to finish yet gave City a 2 goal head start, brought on youth for experience at half time and handed City a thorough spanking the 2nd half.

    City fans have been 'bigging it up' for some time now. If that's the best they can offer we don't have anything to worry about. As for those suggesting that this Utd team one of the worst of the Fergie era, I think some will be revising that assessment very quickly.

    Utd cast down the gauntlet at Wembley yesterday and City ran away!

  • Comment number 25.

    All the usual rubbish rolled out by the reds and the new city haters .... its funny now City are real contenders, before we were just plucky underdogs, but now things have changed, now we have a few quid in the bank all and sundry come out to give us a hard time, to be expected i suppose, we are however still a work in progress, SAF has been at Utd for 20 plus years, that kind of experience is hard to buy.
    The reality is that you can never ever right one of SAF teams off, until that final whistle is blown its game on and we've not learnt from that on a few occasions now, good to get it out of the way for this year though.
    It was good to see both teams take the CS seriously by the calibre of the teams that were put out. I think that was pretty much SAF strongest team which is good as we still have Tevez and Aguero to add to the mix though utd did show that winning desire to push on, so all in all bodes well. This makes for a truly amazing time for Manchester over the next few years. Centre of the footballing world?? Maybe!
    That's one nil to the dark side but I think this struggle between the Empire and the good forces of the rebellion is just beginning for this new season.
    Not so grim up north these days, not in a footballing sense anyway !!!
    Oh and will someone put a lead on that forever toffee blue Rooney, lesson in football was it? Idiot, and to think England depend on him, no wonder we're in the state we are .... more money than sense and an ego twice as big .. humble is a word missing from his kiddy's dictionary. Nice hair by the way doesn't look fake at all, except when you look at it that is, even just a glance!

  • Comment number 26.

    One of my City-supporting pals insists on using the word 'genius' to describe 'Super' Stroppio Balotelli.

    I was watching closely for this attribute in the Charity Shield - did I blink and miss it?

  • Comment number 27.

    Joan Burton writes: "Well...United win the annual Michael Mouse Trophy and suddenly it's a new era, they are better than Barcelona." Hey Lady, nobody has said United are better than Barca - it's you, only you, who has said it. So, you really think United are better than Barca. Nice of you to think that! Thank you for the compliment anyway. As for United fan being so ignorant; all I can say dear Lady is to be around in May 2012 when the Premier League ends and you'll see who will be Champions...again of course! Go United goooooo! Peace Joan Burton and God bless you.

  • Comment number 28.

    A few of you guys touched on this point, but i think its important to reiterate it. We have some promising english lads coming up the ranks the likes of cleverly, young, henderson and many more.

    I am pleased to see the likes of SAF and KD buying english talent, as this will surely improve their game. Liverpool can currently have almost full GB team. I hope this trend continues and pays dividends to our nation, as clearly we do have the talent and desire to compete at international level.

    Ashley Young since plaaying for watford has always entertained me, and im glad hes showing great promise at such a big club. I hope downing does the same for liverpool. Anyways bring on the season, best of luck to everyone besides man united(based on todays performance they dont need it)!!

  • Comment number 29.

    Not bad for an aperitif really, now for the real thing. The only certainty I can see this year is that Man U will be a contender. Apart from that don't want to make any prediction.

    Also agree with #28. If the young English players of Liverpool & Man U (plus the likes of Wiltshire) continue to develop we might have the makings a tastey English side in a couple of years.

  • Comment number 30.

    There are some good players coming through who will make great England players but let's not forget that they are parts of excellent club teams. The most significant moment for me was Rooney's clearance hoof which lead to the winning goal. It showed that a talented goal scorer can be back there helping the defence - he was playing for the team.

    Now all we need is the press to begin praising teams, not individuals. Some goals come from individual brilliance, but most come from great team work.

  • Comment number 31.

    @5 At 00:50 8th Aug 2011, muki1016 wrote:
    Special mention to Tom Cleverly today who I thought was outstanding when he came on. He and Jack Wilshire have the potential to be England’s first choice midfield pairing for the next 10 years – time to phase out 30-somethings Gerrard and Lampard.
    Agree about Tom Clevery, he was outstanding at the community shield but i think Wilshire and Cleverly want be paired in the midfield. I think Clevery will go more CAM and Josh Mchearchran will pair up with Jack Wilshire.

    I predict United's Young to win the league's most assists

  • Comment number 32.

    loving the fact that the average age of the side was 22 in second half and 3 of the lads were home grown. even better than danny is a proper local lad. great to see and I wish him all the best with england. Also cleverly looks the real deal. what is amazing I think is the way lord fergson evolves our side. only last year everyone was saying too old etc.. and now inthe space of one summer we are the new young guns! Love it!

    To my fellow United fans try and not give the scousers too much encouragement. I live in Liverpool and believe me they do not need any more false belief. they are already convinced they gonna win the league! not a snowballs chance in hell in my humble opinion! carroll and dowing the new pennant and crouch. same old liverpool top 4 at best.

    20 here we come!

  • Comment number 33.

    6. At 00:51 8th Aug 2011, Joan_Burton wrote:
    Well... United win the annual Michael Mouse Trophy and suddenly it's a new era and they're better than Barca?


    Where does it say in the blog or in any posts that United are better than Barca? Some have suggested the 2nd goal was barca'esque, a bit over the top maybe, but nobody has claimed United are better than Barca, and they'd be foolish to if they did.

    Bitter are you?

  • Comment number 34.

    @9. At 01:07 8th Aug 2011, JimPuffin wrote:

    City wont win it, still not strong enough. Nearly but not yet. Chelsea have a good shout but I'm doubtful as their team is getting very old.

    To be honest, I'm much more worried about Liverpool this year.
    Chelsea's team is getting old? Read this list of our predicted(if the transfers go right) starting XI this season and their ages:
    Cech - 29
    Ivanovic - 27
    Luiz - 24
    Terry - 31
    Cole - 31
    Romeu - 19
    Ramires/McCheachran - 24/18
    Modric - 25
    Lukaku - 18
    Torres - 27
    Sturridge - 22
    The average age for this starting eleven is 22 and AVB(will have after we get modric)created a young, talented midfield. We probably got the best strike force in the premier league(when torres finds his form and his blonde hair).
    And yes, I do worry about Liverpool and I predict Chelsea to win the league.

  • Comment number 35.

    Sometimes I am heartened by the writing British media pour on English clubs especially where manchster United is mentioned. I have watched manchester's pre season matches and most of the goals are scored in a similar fashion. the players take the ball and run it to the goal, maybe except for yesterday's second goal. with the likes of Underson running the midfield and begging the referee not to be booked has alot to be desired. does he measure to world class midfielders like Xavi, Iniesta, Modric, Fellaini etc or even the Old paul scholes? definately, NO! This team, with all the experience of the likes of Rooney, Giggs, scholes Fredinand, Evra Nani, van Der Sar where given a hiding by an experienced Barca midfield. until things hot up, then the talk will be subdued. Only recently british papers were all over writing giving ways in which the team can be improved. afew days later, the team has matured, just with a the addition of young players from the reserve team, well liverpool did it towards the end of the season and the lads were good but that doesn't mean the team is apt. PLEASE BE REALISTIC. this self-admiration has over the years been sinking English clubs.

  • Comment number 36.

    I genuinely hope United don't sign a Sneijder/equivalent "big name" this summer. I'd much rather the likes of Cleverly get match time and would sacrifice perhaps a trophey or two this year in order to develop a potentially world class home grown player for the next. Yes of course Sneijder is currently a better player than Cleverly but Cleverly is already showing he has what it takes to go a long way while there is always a risk (look at Veron) in bringing big name foreigners to the Premiership.

  • Comment number 37.

    I thought it was a great game with United playing some lovely football. Great to see young English players doing so well, whichever team you support, and I thought Micah Richards - the odd reckless moment aside - was another example of why the national team should have hope for the future. I think both Manchester clubs will be in the top four come next spring, but as to the other places, who knows? People assume Liverpool will bounce back, but I'm not so sure - lot of 'gelling' needed - and Wenger could find himself missing some key players once the transfer merry-go-round stops. As a Spurs fan, I'm not reaching for the cynanide tablet just yet.

  • Comment number 38.

    I wouldn't be writing City or Chelsea off in favour of Liverpool. City were without Aguero and Tevez (if Tevez stays, even until Christmas, he will put in his usual 100% on the pitch). City can also buy in January to back up their challenge if they need to, the other top teams will unlikely spend then.
    Chelsea are still strong imo, and will be challenging. If they can get Torres and Drogba firing, watch out, becuase they are defensively very strong and have experienced midfielders.
    Whilst I think Liverpool have made big changes, I think it's a stretch to expect them to challenge for the league this year, I think they'll be happy with top 4 and CL spot and a platform to move on from there.
    Arsenal? they're a strange team. They have some quality, and AW does get the best out of his players, but I can't for the life of me understand why AW does not see the need to spend. What mentality is it that can finish 3rd and not feel the need to improve the squad? United win the league and SAF still feels the need to strengthen every time.

  • Comment number 39.

    One of the best community shield games I have seen! Good football all around. With Tevez and Kun Aguero to come in, city do look stronger than last year. United are the same again- mixture of youth and experience and that title winning quality. Hope both of them do well in the champions league as well. Manchester is the New Milan!:)

  • Comment number 40.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 41.

    At post 30

    Agreed great teamwork from England is required, stop idolising individuals to levels which they themselves cannot furfill. Eventhough gerard is a absolute legend for me, when he plays for england he does not gell at all with the other team members besides rooney. Surely we must tackle the players mental psychological beliefs and egos. I think england needs a well trained psychiatrist and team motivator! Then the likes of lampard and gerard will begin to work together. Maybe im being naive or maybe ive got it spot on. Clearly the FA hasnt of yet!

  • Comment number 42.

    Utd played well but lets not get carried away. City under Mancini are never going to be good to watch but will be effective.

    The Community Shield is not a barometer for how the season will pan out & dont go overboard about Cleverly (someone actually stated that he ran the show against Iniesta) as I remember player like Djemba-Djemba having great performances in this game & then never doing a thing else.

    The GK looks a bag of nerves & can apparently not speak English which must be a huge concern going into a season.

    The two pwerhouses in Spain remain Utd's challenge and after watching Alexis Sanchez join kids like Thiago & probably Fabregas then I would say Barca are moving ahead of the competition further.

    The Premier League will be between Utd & Chelsea & maybe City if Mancini can work out a system and not just chuck players in. Dzecko needs width to utilise his skill set whereas Aguero & Tevez will chase everything down & Mario needs his own ball.

    You wonder if it would work better sticking Aguero up top with Silva in behind & then bossing midfield with Toure, De Jong, Johnson & a decent right sided player. He is trying to shoe-horn too many playes into a system that does not offer any wide threat.

  • Comment number 43.

    community shield = friendly match this match means nothing for the season

  • Comment number 44.

    If I were a United fan, and I most certainly am not, I would be very worried about the 2 easy goals they shipped in the 1st half. Obviously they will have excuses lined up for that but if it becomes a regular occurrence all other Prem teams will be licking thier lips. United may have be the best team at coming from behind but can they keep it up all season ? Doubtful.
    Thanks to the BBC and other OTT media, apparently a pre-season friendly is the defining moment of the entire season ahead. And the United fans lap it usual.

  • Comment number 45.

    @34, i really think you need a calculator, that line up definitely DOES NOT average at 22, more like 25...

    anyways, as for the match, i thoroughly enjoyed it, and i think the better team won without a doubt. i think rooney was a bit hot in the head to say it was a footalling lesson, but he was right about the fact that other than the 2 goals city scored, they pretty much did nothing attacking wise. they seriously need tevez and aguero to team up with silva to bring some creativity into that city team

    all top 5 teams have got some new players, chelsea with a new manager, the new season will be hard to predict. but between those 5 teams, the squad is not so important as they are all brilliant teams, it's about which team will be the most consistent over the season, and i think chelsea and united will be the 2 teams competing for the epl come may 2012.

  • Comment number 46.

    At joan-burton: THe best team in england is Manchester united like it or not united is the best and second best in the world. they are he CHAMP19N and that just the begin in of a new era. Glory Man united

  • Comment number 47.

    Man U showed all the way through the game that they are true champions, the quality of winners is to never give up. 2-0 down and SAF showed just why he is the best manager. This was not a normal football match, it was against their main City rivals, and one of which is spending to topple Man U's status as the biggest club in England, it was a match where it would set the tempo standard and moral for the season. Taking all these things into account it just shows that Ferguson can use his own methods to not only win games, but also to give the new players valuable experience in being in the hot pot in a final of a cup game (albeit the community shield). Most managers would strengthen the teams and rely more on past trusted systems and players, but Fergie threw all the normals rules out of the window.

    Thats why he is the best.

    The season ahead looks great for united, but its a long season and while Man U were great City were poor. After the first the City goal they got some moment, and made Man United's tactics of moving the ball into wide areas an past tactic worked out by Mancini and United seemed short of ideas and momentum and hence lost another goal to City.

    The new players that came in were just fantastic and although Evans lost the ball in defence tracked back well to regain possesion, it was a fine and determined display, Smalling has improved, Phil Jones showed what all the fuss is about and is so versatile with an eye for a team splitting pass. Cleverly is one for the future, and while at times a bit rash in his shooting was nothing but outstanding. A great English spine to United and this team could be the best in Europe. But tougher times ahead and the main problem with younger players is consistency, and its a very long hard tough season.

    Maybe Man U can do everything this season, but if they dont the season after could be all theirs to prove that they are the number Club team in the world.

  • Comment number 48.

    @34,I don't feel the average age of a starting 11 is hugely important over a 38 game season, but if you are going to put up a post like that then please get your facts right. Your questionable starting 11 actually has an average age of 24.6 (if we exclude Ramires and put in the 6 years younger McEachran, note spelling)
    Interesting to include a player you don't yet own and then lead us to believe that the first choice Midfield will include Romeu over Lampard (19 years old compared to 33) and Lukaku (18) and Sturridge (22) will be your first choice forwards to partner Torres as opposed to Drogba (33), Anelka (32) or Salomon Kalou (26).

    I suggest that you don't do your own tax return, just a thought.

    Cech, Ivanovic, Terry, Luiz, Cole, Lampard, Ramires, Malouda, Torres, Drogba, Kalou I think is a more likely starting 11, Average age I hear you ask??? 28.7

  • Comment number 49.

    post 8: 'But it's just good to know that even when there are clubs with seemingly no limit on their spending they can still be outplayed and outclassed by a side with a better manager, better tactics and a better team as a whole, not on an individual basis.'

    You mean like Everton? They've beaten City 7 out of the last 8 league meetings...


  • Comment number 50.

    Number 34 is a true Chelsea Fan, cannot make his sums add up. The average age of the team he has described is 25! Now that is not old, by my standards anyway, but it is certainly not 22!

  • Comment number 51.

    Chelsea's team is getting old? Read this list of our predicted(if the transfers go right) starting XI this season and their ages:
    Cech - 29
    Ivanovic - 27
    Luiz - 24
    Terry - 31
    Cole - 31
    Romeu - 19
    Ramires/McCheachran - 24/18
    Modric - 25
    Lukaku - 18
    Torres - 27
    Sturridge - 22
    The average age for this starting eleven is 22 and AVB(will have after we get modric)created a young, talented midfield. We probably got the best strike force in the premier league(when torres finds his form and his blonde hair).
    And yes, I do worry about Liverpool and I predict Chelsea to win the league.

    I find it very unrealistic to claim that Romeu, Lukaku and Sturridge will just walk into the Chelsea team particularly when their direct competitors are Lampard, Drogba and Anelka who drag up the average age of the Chelsea team significantly.
    Best strike force in the league? I'm a United fan and it's clear to see that City probably have the strongest strike force in Aguero/Tevez/Dzeko. Lukaku is unproven in a big league, it remains to be seen whether Torres will regain his form. At this moment in time, I'd rather have Anelka and Drogba up front. Despite being 33, Drogba is still a bulldozer and can be incredible effective. That said, I think United's set of strikers have the potential to be lethal - Hernandez can only get better, Rooney is Rooney, Berbatov can be incredible IF he's feeling up for it and Welbeck was very effective at Sunderland.
    As many people have echoed, I am worried about Liverpool. If and when Gerrard recovers from his injury and regains his form, having an attack that contains Carroll, Suarez, Gerrard, Downing and Kuyt could be very effective particularly if Daglish employs the right tactics (i.e. attacking football).
    Do teams such as City not realise that the best teams in the world play free flowing attacking football? The two best teams in Europe Barca and United, although Barca being at far higher a level than united, play effective, efficient attacking football. It is possible to win and play nice football, not this 'hold we've got mentality'. If Mancini decides to abandon his anti-football, City will be a real threat, but until then, I don't see them finishing above Chelsea, never mind United.

  • Comment number 52.

    As an independent United/City was a cracking game of football to watch. De Gea shoud be happy that United pulled back otherwise he would have been the headlines, an impressive second half though. AS an aside another United keeper target, Manuel Neuer, had a shakey Bundesliga debut for Bayern Munich gifting Mönchengladbach a 1-0 win at home in Munich. Neuer is someone Franz Beckenbauer describes as the best keeper in the world. As an aside Bayern (with Robben but without Ribery) were beaten pre-season 2-0 by (more or less) the same Barca side that United beat. Early days but the CL will go to England or Spain.

  • Comment number 53.

    Teehee. Season hasn't even started yet and already the ABU keyboard warriors are swarming over the blogs getting their knickers in a twist.

    United may not win the league this year. They may not win anything this year. But they'll be there or thereabouts, as they have been for the last 15 years, and as they will be for the foreseeable future.

    Deal with it.

  • Comment number 54.

    Firstly, it was indeed pleasing to see both sides take this traditional 'curtain raiser' seriously. If 77 000 people pay good money and make the effort to travel 200 miles to see their team, to do otherwise would be an insult frankly.

    Without question I think both managers wanted to put down a marker at the commencement of the season. And to that extent Ferguson clearly came out on top. However I do sooo wish Mancini would send out his teams to wins games as opposed to merely not lose them. I am still yet to be convinced he is not trapped in some '80s Italian football timewarp, even as the rest of the world has moved on. I think United would still be comfortably beaten by a full strength Barca, but I fear we would receive a far more serious thumping. In football, as in life, fortune does tend to favour the brave, and currently we ain't.

  • Comment number 55.

    Great performance from the boys yesterday in a game we dominated! Apart from 2 or 3 5 minute spells from City.

    We have a much more vibrant look with Cleverly, Welbeck and co in the first team squad now and much more fluid in terms of play.

    I hope Fergie continues to call on the youth this season and doesnt insist on playing Carrick, Giggs. This is their time now.

    So looking forward to the new season!!!!

    Comon you reds!!!

  • Comment number 56.

    I don't rate City, and I don't rate the Shield matches as an indicator of anything. It was interesting to see the reliable Ferdinand and Vidic replaced, was Ferguson thinking they were at fault? I can't seem them not playing for the greater part of this season. I can't see United have done anything to learn how to go about Beating Barcelona. Champions again? Probably, Champions league? Not unless someone knocks out Barca for them along the way.

  • Comment number 57.

    A great performance from United yesterday and one which has left us really excited about the new season and indeed next few years.

    Strange to see some non-United fans on here claiming that United fans are now saying we're better then Barca etc etc which is a ridiculous statement to make and which none of us believe after one good pre-season.

    I personally believe that a little too much expectation is being given to Liverpool, perhaps by everyone but their own fans. Without doubt they will be stronger than last year but I don't think they can finish higher than 4th. I think that if Arsenal lose both Fabregas and Nasri the top 6 will look like this:

    Man Utd

  • Comment number 58.

    City for the league.................................. yeh right, United demonstrate why they will again win it. If they play better than last year away from home, they will romp it............................. they have no opposition in England.

    As for the importance of the match itself, lets remember its not what you do in the first competitive match of the season, its what you achieve in the last match of the season around the end of May.................................. CL's are won then, not now

  • Comment number 59.

    I don't think one should be reading too much into the average age of 22. Teams with average age of 22 who play like a dream in one match never win leagues. If they did, Arsene Wenger would have been the most desirable 'commodity' in football not Lionel Messi.

    Talking of Messi brings me to the average age of Barcelon. How much? 28!! One match and Cleverly is being compared to Wilshere? Like, really? I could see he was the most wasteful united player in the match.

    I have got nothing against United but the fact of the matter remains that they do not have a decent left back, Ferdinand Vidic combo is looking vulnerable (or shall i say Ferdinand looks a shadow of his past), they do not have anyone to pull the strings in the midfield (please do not mention Fletcher and Carrick. You know how they measure up against Lampard, Gerrard, Silva, Essien even Toure and Wilshere and Charlie Adam).

    United is one of the three contenders for the league and that is about it. Liverpool is DEFINITELY NOT one. Arsenal, i doubt will ever be one.

  • Comment number 60.

    'You don't win anything with kids'

    It was a superb display by United and this is an enjoyable blog with some amusing comments and predictions.

    I especially liked the criticism of Wazza's wig and I once saw Denis Law wearing a Crombie.

  • Comment number 61.

    Great performance from the guys yesterday and a well deserved win to kick off the new season! Special mentions have to be given to Cleverly, Welbeck, Jones, Smalling and Nani, who I thought were fantastic. Anderson was immense in the centre and has looked in great form throughout pre-season. I hope this is the year where he really shows us what he can do. I feel De Gea should have saved City's second, but he made up for it with a couple of impulse reaction saves in the second half to keep their tally at 2. Both teams had players out (Hernandez, Valencia, Park, Aguero, Tevez) and I can certainly see City making another signing before the window closes so it all makes for a very exciting upcoming season...


  • Comment number 62.

    Well, Utd had the top league team last season, and have spent more than anyone else over the summer. So what did anyone expect?

    And you can bet that Sir Alex was telling his players on the bus home - "It's a meaningless win in the context of the season, don't get cocky and think it has real value..."

    City still have more to learn about putting a win to bed.

  • Comment number 63.

    #59 Rationalize

    I don't think one should be reading too much into the average age of 22. Teams with average age of 22 who play like a dream in one match never win leagues. If they did, Arsene Wenger would have been the most desirable 'commodity' in football not Lionel Messi.
    One of Arsenal's problems is that they don't have any winners in their ranks. If Wenger had actually taken a cup or two more seriously in the last six years, there would be some players in the squad who knew the why's and wherefore's of winning, what it takes and what it feels like and could perhaps drag the less experienced players over the line as well as set them a higher standard to aspire to. THAT is one of the big problems with Arsenal.

    Man U may have some young players but they are playing with 'older' players who have one big things and the younger players can put trust in those more experienced players. There is always something of a blend at Man U that there isn't at Arsenal.

    On a more personal (Chelsea) note, I do wonder a little how and why Wellbeck gets in the England squad where Sturridge does not. I do hope Sturridge gets plenty of first team action at Chelsea this season. We need a bit more of the blend that Man U have and I think that Sturridge playing (even if wide right in a front three) comes through for club and country.

    Overall though, I didn't seen anything yesterday that was 'scary' from either team. Quite good fun that it was though for drama rather than, necessarily, quality.

  • Comment number 64.

    #42 "The Community Shield is not a barometer for how the season will pan out"

    Except that the winner over the past 4 seasons has gone on to win the league...

  • Comment number 65.


    "I didn't seen anything yesterday that was 'scary' from either team."


    United's second goal?

    Richards's "challenge" on Welbeck?

  • Comment number 66.

    Even if it is just a 'mickey mouse cup', United fans will love the result because they not only beat their rivals, but their kid team in 2nd half just ran City's best selectable XI ragged.
    No matter which team you support, people always like to see youth players given chances and especially see the home-grown youngsters do well against a team made up of big money signings.

    @59...dont talk nonsense, everyone who watched the game saw that since Cleverley was on the pitch he was running the midfield from start to finish, i'd like to see him given more games in place of Carrick who I think is just too slow and conservative in both his movement and passing.
    And of course Cleverley is being compared to Wilshere, because they are the same type of players with similar circumstances, Wilshere went on loan at premier league side (bolton) and impressed, then following season was given a chance and ended up being a regular in starting XI...Cleverley can go exactly the same route.

    One big difference also is the managers. Ferguson takes off his 3 senior players in Vidic, Ferdinand, and Carrick (granted he said he did plan to before the game started, but at 2-0 down by half time who else would have still gone trhough with that plan) to be replaced by 3 youngsters.
    Mancini on other hand takes off an attacker to put in a defensive midfielder, all this did was just invite more pressure. And honestly how does he not start Johnson? Everytime Johnson plays he is one of their biggest threats, he came on and within minutes he's already forced a save from De Gea. instead of giving Balotelli chance after chance, he should play Johnson.

  • Comment number 67.

    Was the match televised in the UK? I saw it live on French TV4 of all places.

  • Comment number 68.

    Good to see so many UTD fans worried about LFC. As for yesterday's game I think to be fair it should be noted that Aguero stayed on the bench and Tevez who looks to be staying as he can't find a club with enough wonga to meet City's demands wasn't available. De Gea will have to find his feet quickly because nit many sides are going to give away a 2 goal lead. Personally I think LFC fans will be happy to get back in champs lge this season anything else would be a bonus. We have bought wisely and can look fwd to more to come as we're solvent and slashing our wage bill. I always rated rafa but if he had a fault it was not understanding the need to have home grown players to whom the league was more important than Europe.

  • Comment number 69.


    Disagree re "City's strongest selectable XI"... No Toure, Aguero or Tevez.

    Agree re the Johnson situation. He plays Balotelli out of position as a wide attacker, while Johnson - one the most natural wingers there is - kicks his heels on the bench. Odd.

  • Comment number 70.

    #65 kanchelskis_legend


    "I didn't seen anything yesterday that was 'scary' from either team."


    United's second goal?
    A lovely looking goal, sure, but come one, someone has to put the boot in before Nani got through don't they? There were enough chances to.

  • Comment number 71.


    Easier said than done, especially when the ball is being moved in and around the box. City's defence are no mugs.

  • Comment number 72.

    #71 kanchelskis_legend

    City's defence are no mugs.
    Indeed, which makes it more of a surprise. Ok, perhaps I'm not giving enough credit I just felt it could have been dealt with. Still, always easy from the comfort of my reclining armchair I suppose!

    But for an error of judgement yesterday from City's defence, the result could have gone either way. Do you think City showed enough to suggest they will improve on last season, and thus be proper challengers for the title, or is it too soon?

  • Comment number 73.

    liverpool in champions league? wake up. Top three will be united, city and chelsea.

  • Comment number 74.

    City fan here,

    Congrats to United yesterday, deserved to win. We camped to deep in our half defending, which is an acceptable tactic if you can then break with pace and do the counter attack, but we just weren't. Actually we played much more fluid football at old trafford (the Rooney overhead kick game) and in the FA cup semi final. Despite being 2 up at half time I didn't feel like we were playing anywhere near where we can.

    Chelsea won't lie down, but their team seems a bit too old, and with a big name or two injured then it doesn't look great. Even if Arsenal lose Fabregas I think they'll still push. We always write them off, but they never go away. Which leads me to.... Liverpool. We all have that feeling about them. They were always going to be too big to dissappear. Let the season commence.

    Final thought. Not happy about us having Swansea at home on the first game of the season. Talk about a banana skin.

  • Comment number 75.

    It seems Arsenal have copyrighted the "youngsters" tag, everyone else is just a pretender.

    Title #20 on the way

  • Comment number 76.

    Good start from United. It was a friendly and so the result doesn't matter.

    What does matter is how a team play. What we saw yesterday from a United without Giggs, Scholes, Neville etc is the same resilience and fighting spirit exemplified by those players. If the current crop continue with a never say die attitude then they won't be far short of what the legends achieved.

  • Comment number 77.


    And but for an error of judgement from De Gea, we could've won it more comfortably.

    Not sure about being title challengers. If Aguero takes to the PL like he should, and Tevez stays beyond January, then most definitely yes, but they still need to become more of a sum of their parts. Still feels like a collection of good players, rather than a team.

  • Comment number 78.

    I don't think any United fans are getting carried away with the result or preformance, merely stating that it was very encouraging given some of our (relatively) 'dodgy' starts to some seasons. No-one should read too much into pre-season but what do Liverpool fans make of theirs? I watched the drubbing by Hull and someone informed you haven't won a game yet (not sure how truthful that is).

    Chelsea will be a huge threat, i think a lot will depend on the most talked about topic from last December onwards (Torres, Drogba & Anelka issue). If they do click and start firing then that will be the best forward line-up in the country, have they played together in pre-season?

    City bore me senseless, the only way they will challenge for the league is if Mancini goes or suddenly wakes up to the fact this isn't Milan 1985. Arsenal could implode this year if Fab & Nasri go and i do fear for spurs fans if a few big signings aren't made rapidly.

    This year could be a treat!!!

  • Comment number 79.

    I think there has been too much emphasis on the result, my main concern was the performance of the team. Me personally, I wouldn't have cared if we won or lost, however the performance was enough for me to enjoy the game, the 94th minute winner was just the icing on the cake.

    It would seem that the City fans attitude was that it was just a friendly, which probably explained their poor turnout, however their manager and players were treating it very much as a competitive match.

    The biggest question yesterday for me is that if City had been 0-2 at half time would they have had the heart and desire to pull it back or would they have simply gone for the extra man in midfield to limit the damage, while checking their bank statements?

    We've had a summer of City fans telling us what they are going to do this year and crowing about their wealthy owners and 'massive' sponsorship deals. Certainly the Community shield, despite being merely a 'prestigious' friendly, would have been on the list of 'must wins' this season. Their new found arrogance is not going to cover the fact that the most expensive team ever assembled were given a 2 goal lead and then played off the park by a team of mostly back-up players.

    For United the likes of Jones, Wellbeck, Cleverly and Smalling will probably spend a fair few hours on the bench this season but at least they are good enough to keep the rest on their toes, which can only be a good thing.

  • Comment number 80.

    Utd Kids are rampant they don't fear the likes of Tom Clevery he is better than carrick the boy can move with the ball and pass it well new jack wilsher

  • Comment number 81.

    #78 wirral18

    Chelsea will be a huge threat, i think a lot will depend on the most talked about topic from last December onwards (Torres, Drogba & Anelka issue). If they do click and start firing then that will be the best forward line-up in the country, have they played together in pre-season?
    The issue is potentially more confused as well cause surely Sturridge deserves a start and Lakuku could be arriving too!

    Or, you simplify it and drop Drogba and Anelka to the bench. They have a contribution to make but if Villas-Boas wants a future he has to look to the future and not to the past. For different reasons, both those players came up short last season.

    Not sure off hand if they player together in pre-season but I think everyone has had a go and most have found the back of the net. Chelsea have had a good pre-season though so that gives Villas-Boas food for thought. His success will probably be staked on making big calls. For example, Mourinho's first league game he played Cech rather than the established Cudicini and he/we have not looked back. A big called, called right that gives the new manager kudos.

  • Comment number 82.

    Well, I've just watched this game and it was highly entertaining as error-ridden games often are. Match could esily have ended 6-6. Overriding message for me is that neither team played very well and this year's premier is wide open.

  • Comment number 83.

    United looked electric on the ball. Simply you won't see many better teams moves all season than Nani's first goal, absolutely stunning all round and one of a number of times United pulled city apart with slick passing around the edge of the box. Clearly this United side mean business and that performance produced some of the best looking football Man U have played in a long time!

  • Comment number 84.

    Sturridge i see starting and making an impact, i think starting Lakuku is a huge gamble. Sturridge has had a good year or 2 in the prem and knows what it takes where as Lakuku wont know whats hit him.

    Then again big calls is what wins you leagues. I'm actually quite surprised Drogba hasn't been mentioned at all sicne the transfer market opened when before everyoen was tipping him to be off.

  • Comment number 85.

    #84 wirral18

    I'm actually quite surprised Drogba hasn't been mentioned at all sicne the transfer market opened when before everyoen was tipping him to be off.
    Yeah, well, who is 'everyone'? People often put 2 and 2 and for a lot of the time, for no good reason AND get the wrong result.

  • Comment number 86.

    @ Oliver 82

    What game was that then, I watched the Community Shield.

  • Comment number 87.

    Good performance in the end, and great seeing Wellbeck and Cleverley coming in and doing what we know they are capable of.

    We still have the same midfield issue that most complained of last season, however, as well as the same tendency displayed in first half of last season of "falling asleep" and giving away silly goals.

    Van Der Saar and Scholes will be missed a lot - impossible not to with players of that stature - but we have good youngsters in.

    Fully expect United to be able to retain their title.

    As for the headline, I suspect it will apply even more to Arsenal, from whom we can expect more of the same - except that this time I expect to see them drop out of the Top 4.

    I figure Top 4 will come from the two Manchester teams, Liverpool, Chelsea and Spurs with one of those finishing up fighting Arsenal for 5th place.

  • Comment number 88.

    Everyone seems to be saying the community shield doesn't mean anything. Maybe it doesn't but haven't the winners of the game gone on to win the league in the last four or five seasons? Maybe it is significant.

  • Comment number 89.

    #88 enzo133

    I think in the period prior to the 5 seasons you mention, the winners of the Charity Shield only went on to win the league something like once in around ten years.

    It's a game worth winning, as every game is, but I think it is not really any sort of omen.

  • Comment number 90.

    What an absolute corker of a match to kick off the new top flight season, total excitement!

    I don't think anybody can disagree (although I reckon Man United are favourites marginally), that the competition for the PL will be even tighter and more exciting this year. The fight for the top 6 spots will be exhilirating, what with an ever changing Man United team, Chelsea's young and exciting manager, City's millions, Arsenal's unpredictability yet excellent style of football, Liverpool's legend of a manager and new set-up and, dare I say, Tottenham, a team you just shouldn't write off!

    Can't wait for the beginning of the new season.

    My prediction:

    Man United
    Man City

  • Comment number 91.

    You know the new season is here when reporters start making cast-iron wide sweeping statements based on one, pre-season, game. I can see the upcoming blogs after Norwich win their first game and go top on goal differeence: "CAN THE CANARIES GO ALL THE WAY?", etc.

    United deserved to win yesterday, as City deserved to win the FA SF. Are United a better team now than in April, fitter, and/or are City worse, not at peak fitness, or were the players taking it easy yesterday? I don't know, and neither do you. Let's see what happens.

    I saw a comment yesterday that said clubs time peak fitness for a few months into the season, but it looked to me like United were razor sharp and very hungry. Let's hope it's a rerun of The Hare and the Tortoise.

  • Comment number 92.

    Morning all, and thanks for your comments so far.

    2/ I think it's a tiny bit early to pronounce this a 'new, improved' United, despite Nani's first goal being Barca-esque. Great goal though it was, let's wait until they're doing that sort of thing on a regular basis during the season proper before we proclaim them as better than some of the successful United sides of the recent past. For now, United are doing what they have done for the last 20 years or so, which is to go for the jugular of their opponents with wave after wave of attacks.

    3/ City's starting XI had an average age of 24.9 (united's was 23.5) and they finished with one of 25.8. Until Gareth Barry came on before the hour mark, Joleon Lescott (who turns 29 on 16 Aug) was their oldest player. Richards was their only home-grown player to feature, although you could include Joe Hart in that at a push.

  • Comment number 93.

    only able to watch the highlights 'live' but what highlights :O)

    no smugness, I just loved the way we pased the ball in midfield and attacked in droves-great to see Cleverly living up to his early reputation & with a bit more composure he would have been on the scoresheet

    I'm sure Rooney will enhoy playing in this team, with speed merchants on either wing; wonder of we'll see much of Giggsy?

    citeh could well have finished the game without 2 of their players-there were some crunching tackles-not all legit ;O(

    1 trophy in the bag; now looking forward to the start proper next week :O)

  • Comment number 94.

    Hi all.

    Gutted City fan here. Having read a lot of the posts here it does seem like most City fans are staying away today and this doesn't supprise me either.

    Although this was only a pre season charity match, it was still a derby and one both clubs and fans wanted to win so no excuses from me, united played some exciting football and I was very suprised at how fast they broke away, with Young and Welbeck making some excellent movement off the ball as well as with it.

    City are not ready just yet although we will be hard to beat and I am sure in some games this season our tough tackling powerful playing style will work better than united's speedy slick passing and will enable us to pick up points where this united team will fail and visa versa.

    However, for me and I hate to admit it, united are the team to beat yet again.

    If we can play a little more positive and get the midfield balanced to connect the defence through to the strikers we really will become a force.

    Until then I guess I will just have to put up with the majority of the rubbish that is branded about by most (not all) united and other fans and the media about City and us the fans.

    For me, my ideal season would include Utd, City and Liverpool challenging in May with obviously City winning. However as a betting man, my money is on United.

  • Comment number 95.

    #92 Chris Bevan - BBC Sport

    Richards was their only home-grown player to feature, although you could include Joe Hart in that at a push.
    Hart played 54 times for Shrewsbury before transferring to City at the age of 19 for upto £1.5m. The very definition of 'home-grown'????

  • Comment number 96.

    Right, it's time for a another neutral's view. City on paper SHOULD walk the EPL what with their limitless resources, but leagues are not won on paper are they? With the tactically inflexible and predictable Mancini in charge I'm afraid they've got no hope. What they need is a manager who can get a bunch of highly talented individuals playing as a team and also set them free of Mancini's defensive straightjacket mentality. Here's a prediction for you - the Arabs lose patience with Scarf Man by Xmas, get Mourinho and go on to win the EPL...actually maybe not Jose, as he's a bit on the defensive side too, but he would get them playing as a team!
    Man Utd to win it for me, with City or Chelsea second. All those deluded souls who think Liverpool have a chance are going to have egg on their faces when they realise that King Kenny's crown has slipped so far as to blind him to the sheer averageness of the players he has bought. Have you seen their pre-season results? They'll struggle to equal last season's 6th.
    As for the game yesterday, that City banner equating them with Barca was almost as funny as the result. When the most loathed club in the land get beaten by the most envied it's difficult to know who to cheer on, but...ahem...well done Utd!

  • Comment number 97.

    16/ Yep, it was the intensity of the game itself which makes the outcome/performances more significant. Sometimes these Community Shield games can be a bit dull, but both sides seemed to treat it like a 'proper' match.

    18/ Not sure City were "comprehensively beaten". Yes, they were outpassed at times but I don't recall Joe Hart making another save after Nani had equalised. City were second best but still forced De Gea into a couple of saves and only a terrible defensive error stopped the game from going to penalties (no extra-time remember). And City could have won the shoot-out, no matter whether they deserved to or not!

  • Comment number 98.

    Glory United!!!

    @96 (y)

    As a ManUtd faithful I was very pleased with the Performance. Especially in the second half with Vidic & Ferdinand taken off. I thought Citeh was going to run us down & the scorleine ending @ 4-0.

    Well Done Young Lads! Well Done Fergie!!

    Oh! lest I forget, I'm sure RM is better @ making spaghettibolognis than making accurate tactical substitutions:D *Yimu*

  • Comment number 99.

    As a United fan, I always see matches like this as damned if you win and damned if you dont. The ABU's will write you off if you lose and say SAF is too old, if we win, then its the "Michael Mouse Cup" (comical) or just a friendly - dont get too excited.

    The simple fact is SAF doesnt rebuild, he constantly builds. If he was rebuilding Manchester United wouldnt have won anything recently or be in with a chance of winning anything - witness Arsenal and Liverpools recent (and ongoing rebuilding programs).

    A final comment on all the Citeh and Chelski fans saying how just becuase they are now in with a chance theyve become the most hated teams in the country. The issue real fans have here is how youve become contenders - Manchester United, Arsenal, Liverpool and Tottenham are contenders because of how their clubs have grown and been managed over the years. They spend the revenue THEY earn. With Citeh and Chelski they are bankrolled and whilst it might be nice in the short term to find yourself in the upper echelons of the league or in the semi-final of a cup - one thing is for certain its only a temporary thing, enjoy it while it lasts (witness Blackburn Rovers 1995).

  • Comment number 100.

    95/ I did say 'at a push'! My point was that City definitely developed Hart - he'd only just turned 19 when he joined from Shrewsbury and had been playing in the Blue Square Prem and Lge 2. A bit different to say, Phil Jones coming to United at the same age, after playing in the PL for Blackburn.

    Not all players who I'd describe as 'homegrown' come through the ranks at one club, though... and some of them do cost fees far more than £1.5m, even if they are younger than Hart... Richards actually started at Oldham (who get a percentage of any future transfer fee), while Cleverley came to Utd from Bradford City.


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