A lot of people say the Community Shield is a meaningless friendly. It’s not worth getting excited about, it’s not ‘proper’ silever-ware, but I do disagree. Don’t get me wrong, it’s not exactly the Champions League final but ever since the new Wembley opened, the winners of the Community Shield have gone on to life the Premier League trophy (that is a true fact). So you would think that as Manchester United won it, we’ll be lifting the Premier League come May 2012. Ah, if only it was that easy…
This year’s Community Shield more of a contest then it’s probably ever been. Sure, we like to beat Chelsea/Liverpool/Arsenal but there’s something special reserved for when it comes to Manchester City. Like becomes need. We don’t just like to beat City, we need to, to prove dominance, to shut them up, to reign Manchester (at least until the next match) and with the way the game went, City feel exactly the same.
The first half passed quickly. Neither team was on top, although I think we shaded it, and there weren’t too many chances, but somehow we found ourselves 2-0 by the time the half-time whistle went. I panicked. I figured it was the beginning of the end (imagine, getting all het up over the Community Shield), that City would score more goals and when I saw we were replacing Ferdinand/Vidic with Jones/Evans, I panicked even more. If there’s one thing I’m good at it’s panicking. We can be 1-0 down and I’ll still panic. I am the biggest doom-monger ever. How I survive 90 minutes on a regular basis is beyond me.
However, in the second half we were a revelation. We came back like no team has ever come back before. OK, that’s a bit dramatic… and we have come back from 2-0 down before (that Everton game at Goodison sticks in my mind), but you know what I mean. It was an insanely good second half from us. Smalling kicked things off with a headed goal from an Ashley Young free kick, then some superb one-touch passing from Cleverley/Nani/Rooney saw Nani scoring from a very tight angle, then in the 94th minute after Rooney hoofed a ball up the field and Clichy/Kompany got confused, Nani nicked it off them, rounded Joe Hart and slid in the winner. It was… it was something else entirely, let me tell you. Our display in the second half was one of a team not content to let this trophy slip away, not content to let City beat us.
It was a heck of a match and I was amazed at our second half performance. For a while, our average age was 22 years old(!) and those kids (although I am loathe to call them ‘kids’, they’re not kids, not really) showed their mettle. It’ll be interesting to see how Cleverley/Jones/Evans/Welbeck fair this year, particularly in the Carling Cup where Sir Alex is notorious for letting the youngsters loose. It was a good test for Sunday and I can’t wait to get this campaign under way.
It’s been said that City are ‘fragile’ and while they are fragile, I don’t think throwing more money at it is the answer. Man City could probably field TWO Premier League teams this year; they have players coming out of their ears. I don’t think they need to buy more players, I think Mancini needs to pick a starting XI and stick to it. He needs to let his players gel and get to know each other’s actions. I mean, the mix-up between Kompany and Clichy was embarrassing, frankly. For a team that harbours Premier League title winning ambitions, you need your defenders to know each other’s movements. They need time to get to know each other, that’s all. I also think Mancini needs to get rid of Balotelli. And probably Tevez. Both hate Manchester, both are incredibly stroppy and that will cause tension in the dressing room. Trouble is, Mancini doesn’t seem the type of manager to really put his foot down the way Sir Alex does. A manager has to command the dressing room and I don’t think Mancini does.
Only five more days to go until it all kicks off. Can City win the title? Not on that defensive display, it has to be said and we’re looking raring to go. I can’t wait!