After all the pre-season games, the endless stream of often nonsensical transfer speculation and, in the case of Manchester United, a rebuilding of the squad following retirements and departures.
And so after a Summer of notable sporting moments, we have come to what many believe to be the curtain raiser on the Premier League season at Wembley, the Community Shield. Although billed as a friendly this year’s showcase had added incentive in that it was to host Manchester rivals, United and City. There were concerns before the game about travelling to London given the riot that had occurred overnight in Tottenham, but when it came to it all focus was placed on the pitch in what was an entertaining fixture. It was a game that saw United dominate the first half in terms of possession without much attacking threat which was punished and went in at half time with a two goal deficit. However, with a few substitutions at half time, in particular young midfielder Tom Cleverley, and suddenly United were far more effective pulling two goals back soon after the break via Smalling and a beautiful passing move to allow Nani a finish. With penalties looming, a clearance from a City attack was poorly controlled by Kompany and easily challenged by the brilliant Nani to break free to round Hart and give his side a 3-2 victory and spark scenes of jubilation amongst the United faithful. So with that, on the precipice of a new season, here are five things that may be taken from the game.
1) David De Gea needs time and patience
Although not often tested early on in the first half, going in at half time it appeared that the main talking points were based on whether or not the young Spaniard could have done better to avoid conceding. However, there are certain points that could be made in defense of the ‘keeper believed to be Van Der Sar’s replacement. The first goal was a superb delivery by David Silva that allowed Joleon Lescott a clean header after Ferdinand and Vidic failed to deal with marking. It could be argued that De Gea should have positioned himself better but such was the ease of the header that he was left with little chance of saving it.
The second goal caught most by surprise as Edin Dzeko collected the ball and was allowed to run unopposed in the midfield and shot from distance beating De Gea to his right. Indeed De Gea was caught out, failing to get across to parry away a shot that was in easy reach but the more concerning point was that Dzeko was allowed so much space and time to shoot in the first place. Clearly he should have been closed down better in the first place but regardless, it is a point from which De Gea will learn from and, given the time, could well turn out to be a superb acquisition. The second half showed more encouraging signs with a good save made at his near corner from Adam Johnson as well as a good reaction stop from a header that would not have counted otherwise. Another positive for him will have been his distribution, impressing with strong kicking and his willingness to throw it out when possible. It will have been encouraging to see that his head did not go down after half time in his debut at Wembley, putting his mistakes behind him and keeping a cool head behind the back four.
2) Anderson will get his chance
With the retirement of Paul Scholes and a midfield widely believed to be lacking in world class talent, many see this season as a time for Anderson to make his mark on the side and cement his place as a regular in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. It is likely that he will get a run in the side in a chance to prove his worth as a long term option. He made the most of his starting berth, putting in an effective display with direct passing and finding himself involved in play often. With constant speculation regarding the possible arrival of Wesley Sneijder and the emergence of Tom Cleverley, back from a loan spell at Wigan, this could be a key year in Anderson’s United career.
3) Nani and Young – strong combination on the wing
Ferguson will have been pleased with the contribution of his wide men, with Nani on the right and Young occupying the left side. Nani in particular had a fantastic game putting in a man of the match performance that saw him score two goals, the first of which was at the end of a sublime quick passing move. Young put in a wonderful delivery from the left outside the box to be met by Chris Smalling for a slick finish after breaking free from his marker. Young looked to to get involved in many of United’s attacks and although at times it failed to produce effect, particularly in the first half, it still will have provided much encouragement at a time when match practice is bound to be found lacking, especially when new to a club.
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