With the Football League getting underway this afternoon – tomorrow it is time for the Big Boys to come out to play. While the Premier League does not kick-off until next weekend – the annual curtain raiser of the Community Shield shall whet our appetite for the season ahead.
It just so happens that this season we have a battle between the noisy neighbours to get the season underway. Speaking ahead of the game Sir Alex Ferguson has let his views be known about the game “I’ve always viewed this Community Shield as a stepping stone for the first game of the season….”
Deep down – we know both him and Roberto Mancini will want their respective clubs to win.
Both clubs have been quite bust in preparation for the new-season with a host of new signings on either side of Manchester. Firstly, we turn to City – where their marquee signing of the summer comes in the form of Sergio Aguero at £38m. Elsewhere, the Blues made sensible signings of Gael Clichy from Arsenal and Stefan Savic from Partizan, and ‘keeper Costel Pantilimon from Romanian side – Timisoara.
City will mean business this season as they step up their search for more trophies, – having ended their 35 year trophy drought by picking up the FA Cup last season; they added the Dublin Super Cup to their cabinet over the summer. Just how long will it be before City will be picking up their third piece of silverware?
Many critics and pundits see this as being a season of transition for the Red Devils as Sir Alex Ferguson begins another rebuild of his squad. Veterans Paul Scholes and Edwin Van Der Sar have both retired, as has Gary Neville (mid-way through last season) – while John O’Shea and Wes Brown have both left to join Sunderland.
Ferguson wasted no time in signing fresh young blood in the form of David de Gea and Phil Jones from Atletico Madrid and Blackburn respectively – along with experienced winger Ashley Young from Aston Villa. United maintained an unbeaten record in pre-season – as did City.
The signs already look promising for United as Tom Cleverley and Danny Welbeck – both of whom have spent time on loan away from Old Trafford in previous seasons look set to be remaining at the club after impressive pre-season performances.
City will be without Carlos Tevez for the season opener as the Argentine – whose future has come under much speculation during the summer – is on holidays until Monday, having played in the Copa America. Roberto Mancini has also stated that Sergio Aguero will start Sunday’s game on the bench.
For United – Michael Carrick has already been ruled out of the game having picked up an injury during the week; Javier Hernandez who suffered concussion during pre-season will also miss the game having been ruled out for two to three weeks.Other than that, both teams have a clean bill of health.
This is only the second time the two sides have met in the competitions history – the last of which was in 1956 where Manchester United were 1-0 winners.
This season – we could well be seeing a title challenge from both Manchester sides. “We used to talk about a top four with ourselves Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool,” said Sir Alex Ferguson recently. “You can’t say that anymore Manchester City have definitely come into the frame.”
On the other hand, Roberto Mancini has been coy about City’s chances this season: “We want to improve on last season and we’ll try to win the Premier League but we need two or three more players and, if we can do that, I think we will be very close.”
Prediction: Manchester United 1-1 Manchester City
United to win 4-2 on penalties