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United see off City in the Community Shield

Manchester United 3 v Manchester City 2.  Isn’t life great?  Somehow a win like today’s Charity Shield comeback of comebacks seems so much sweeter and so much more rewarding than if we had beaten them 4-0.  Nothing makes you feel better about your team, it’s prospects for the future and it’s overall makeup than an outstanding come from behind victory against a hated derby rival.

The Community Shield Circa 2011/12 will go down as a classic for United fans and especially a classic comeback which defines all the reasons I gave as to why United is still kings of Manchester and English football.  In the end, United won the game, game back from a two goal deficit and won the game with style thanks to a great performance from Nani and the whole gang who showed more grit, character, discipline, teamwork, togetherness, experience and pedigree.

This may go down as just another Charity Shield, a competition that over the years and all the fixture congestion has seemingly become just another exhibition match.  Well it just might be but when we win it it feels like an FA Cup.  And the manner of the victory makes it feel like we are like James Cameron, kings of the world.

The funny thing about the game for me is that despite being down 0-2 at halftime, I was not my usual negative self but actually had a feeling that United would fight back and make a game of it.  Sorry to all you David De Gea fans but I actually blame both City goals on him.  He showed two of his weaknesses that I wrote about many a time when I was o0ffering up my ratings on the top keepers available to us.  I f people want to go back and check I mentioned that he is indecisive when it comes to coming out to challenge crosses or high balls into the box and that certainly was the fact in goal number one.  Sure it wasn’t all his fault as the marking was pretty shoddy at best.  No way a player like Lescott should be scoring against our back four.  Secondly, he reacted slowly and was on his wrong foot unbalanced and not ready for the inevitability of a long shot like the one Dzeko fired at him.  Full credit to Edin as it was a fine shot but van der Sar would have probably stopped it with his lanky reach and I bloody well guarantee that my boy Manuel Neuer wouldn’t have let either goal in.

Still, I am not to down on the lad.  He is young and he will need to deal with pressure and learn some key fundamentals for the English game that are hardly used in the Spanish or continental game, handling crosses being the most important.  Overall, United were full value for their victory.  Yes they have to work on wide balls into the box which was a problem for them last year as well, especially early on, and yes, they still need to mesh and find a consistent rhythm which will come with games played.

I was super impressed with Nani as he took the burden of being down two goals upon himself and led us by example.  His contributions besides his two goals shows us all just how far he has come in the last two years and makes me ask the serious question Fergie just how could you possibly ever consider picking Valencia or even Park over Nani in big games and especially late last season and in the Champions League final?  Nani gives us the X-Factor, that special intangible that no other wide player gives us.  He can conjure up a goal or an assist when we most need it and he frankly makes things happen.  Like Ronaldo, this lad should never be on the bench, just my opinion.

His two goals were fantastic and very composed finishes.  Something that I have noticed about Nani Park and even Anderson over the last six months or so is that they are finishing more regularly and their finishing seems more composed and clinical.  To be honest, Ronaldo’s finishing was decent but hardly Ronaldo-like in his first few seasons. These players may have taken a bit longer to find that clinical composure but it sure looks like they have, which is great news for United all us fans.

As for the rest of the gang the performances ranged from very good to somewhat poor but I am not going to waste time and space giving a report card.  Suffice it to say the club outplayed City and out shot them by almost 3-1 (22 to 8] which for me indicates who was really in charge despite the halftime score and closeness of the final score line.  I was also impressed with young Tom Cleverley and if Fergie does not press the buy button on Wesley Sneijder or anyone else, then he must give Cleverley the chance to establish himself.  With his vision he helped United win the midfield today and his contributions to that second goal was great as it looked simply Barcelonaesque in quality.  More of that please.

The Shield may not have the pedigree or the reputation as a serious cup final with many but make no mistake, it still is a game that we need to win and still offers silverware.  Not only did we win the game and the silverware, but most importantly, we kept a hated rival from winning it and we the team allowed us United fans to yet again have bragging rights over our noisy neighbours from the wrong side of the tracks.  Most of all, the game helps the club build on their confidence, while hurting the confidence of our biggest challengers this season.  It’s not a major advantage but it sure helps and will always keep City cautious no matter how far ahead they are when playing us.  Today they got spanked in the second half and they feel it.

City weren’t terrible by any means and their lead was somewhat deserved but like I said earlier, they are not a team yet and individuals will not beat a great “team” who have individuals who can conjure up miracles like Nani and fight adversity with grit, determination and the stubborn refusal to lose (except to Barca).  I am a huge proponent of pedigree and experience and United showed it in a one off scenario.  Over a long drawn out 38 game campaign interrupted by cup ties, Europe and International breaks, only a team with pedigree, discipline and experience can come out ahead.  And Mr. Mancini has gone on record saying he still doesn’t have the players for the job nor does he believe his club is as good as we are for all the above reasons.  United showed their class today and won a game for the ages.  Too bad it wasn’t an FA Cup final, but either way, I’ll take it.

Van Wilson