Monday, August 9, 2010

Why play the Community Shield?

As I was watching the last 10 minutes of a thrilling Community Shield game between Man United and Chelsea, I began to wonder why I was so fixated on a match that was in the words of Mark Lawrenson was a "glorified friendly". Even in recent times Manchester United Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has down played the significance of the game by saying "It's always a game we never quite use of a do or die thing, we use it as a barometer for fitness".

Watching the first half of the game you might have agreed with him, it seemed that up until the first United goal, both sides were playing to see where they were at in regards to their development for the upcoming season. Through out his entire time on the pitch it looked like Ashley Cole took it as a training match against local amateurs, Now of course this could have been his "Get me outta here, I want to go to Madrid" plea, but I highly doubt it. However it seemed that once Antonio Valencia fired the Red Devils into the lead, everyone competitive nature came out.

Javier Hern├índez scores in comical fashion to put United up 2-0
This in my opinion is why the F.A  must continue with the Community Shield game, it is the first chance for the top clubs to really get into competitive mode for the upcoming season. I would have imagined at half time the team talk consisted of not losing face to the other side. As you would expect that United and Chelsea will be in the thick of the title race all season long. Although United brought on 3 subs at half time, you don't bring on Javier Hern├índez, Dimitar Berbatov and Ryan Giggs on just because they need the run out. You could also tell that this game meant a little something when Ji Sung Park was in the starting 11 for United as he plays in all important games for the club, so make no mistake Sir Alex's intention was to win. The same could be said of Chelsea manager Carlo Ancelotti who made no changes to his side at half time and eventually brought in Dider Drogba to help salvage the game late on.

It must be said that in the grand scheme of things the Community Shield as silverware in a clubs trophy case is probably the one they will miss the least, however it is still silverware, and the one weakness of all clubs big or small is it's addiction at silver. Having the winning feeling early in a season helps to build on further success during the regular season, Chelsea can attest to this as winning the shield last year was the start of a record breaking year for them.

Some many find looking into the game like this as foolhardy, however the game can be used as a signal of intent for the rest of the league. In this case United showed that it is ready to make a run at regaining it's English crown and chalking up the very significant milestone of 19 league titles. For Chelsea it shows them that repeating as champions will be a very difficult task as the target is firmly on their backs now. The Blues have done it before this decade, but with a fit United, a re-freshed Arsenal, newly motivated Liverpool and the emerging giant in Manchester City; This will be one of the most intriguing Premier League season in quite some time.

So let the games begin.

Mike N 

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