The Charity Shield (now the Community Shield) has had its detractors over the years, with many calling it a meaningless friendly. But today’s Manchester derby whetted the appetite like a Gordon Ramsay cooking demonstration. It was cracking to see the players throwing some tackles in and looking like they really wanted to win the game. A feisty encounter with some awesome performances from established players like Silva, Toure, Anderson and Rooney, but also some impressive displays from the likes of Cleverley and Wellbeck.
United dominated play for the most part of the game but found themselves two down at half time before storming back in the second half. It was a great foreshadowing for the season ahead to have such an open and enthralling duel between United and City. And United’s second goal already stakes a claim for best team goal of the season. A scintillating interchange that was almost a homage to 1970s Brazil!
A lesson for all amateur sides in the first half too. With United clearly on top, City were putting it about physically (the old classic, let’em know you’re there, rattle them up). It had the desired effect when Evra went in full blooded and recklessly to give a pointless free kick on the right handside in a dangerous area. City score from the ensuing free kick and the commentators start pointing the finger at Ferdinand for not tracking Lescott well enough. In fairness it was a good run and very hard to defend. The question should be, why is Evra giving away a free kick in this area needlessly? There’s brave and then there’s stupid. Hit them hard outside your own first third of the field for sure, but don’t gift the opposition cheap free kicks where they can hurt you.
Anyway, if the skill, commitment and energy displayed today is a sign of things to come for the next ten months, it could be a vintage season for the EPL!