The FA Community Shield, sponsored by McDonalds, has always been a fixture that has baffled me. Hailed as the traditional curtain raiser for the season it is difficult to distinguish whether it is a friendly or a competitive match. With thoughts of pre-season world tours fresh in the minds of both teams and the transfer rumour mill often reaching stupendous levels the match often isn’t taken too seriously by fans and players alike.
The prospect of a trophy though confuses the spectacle somewhat. No team can claim to not want to win silverware so one can never be quite sure what to expect.
Prior to the game, news was emerging that City had agreed a fee for Everton’s young English midfielder Jack Rodwell. The deal all but secured subject to a medical. The news could arguably be more exciting for City fans than the prospect of claiming the Community Shield given the unusually quiet transfer window for Champions, so far.
The approach both sets of players took to the game certainly banished any thoughts of this being a casual, pre-season kick about. Challenges were flying in left, right and centre culminating in a few early yellow cards and eventually a red.
Roberto Mancini opted to use the 3-5-2 system that he has been experimenting with during the pre-season tours of Austria, China and Malaysia. Though City played with more attacking verve for the majority of the first half Chelsea took the lead courtesy of a Fernando Torres goal shortly before half time. Not long afterwards the tough tackling spectacle reached a head when Branislav Ivanovic deservedly saw red for rash challenge on Aleks Kolarov.
In the second half, City managed to make better use of possession in the final third, thanks in part to their numerical advantage over Chelsea. Within the space of 13 minutes fine goals from Yaya Toure, Carlos Tevez and Samir Nasri ensured City were on course to claim their first Community Shield in 40 years.
In true City fashion they didn’t make it easy for themselves. Ryan Bertrand, the young English Chelsea substitute, ensured that City fans bit their nails to the final whistle after pouncing on a Costel Pantilimon spill with 10 minutes left to reduce the Chelsea deficit to 3-2. Nevertheless, City held on to get their hands on the trophy sponsored by McDonalds (a sponsorship that epitomises everything that is wrong with the modern game).
The game was comforting for City in that it has proved the 3-5-2 can function effectively in a competitive scenario thus justifying the work Mancini and his staff have undertaken in pre-season. I am not sure that the system is sustainable though. Unless City are able to field 3 centre halves at the back instead of full backs or a deer in the headlights like Stefan Savic, I am not sure Mancini will persevere with the system. With the transfer window still open there is time to make additions to bolster his squad to better suit this system.
Carlos Tevez also showed that he is a different proposition to last season after having lost weight over the summer. The Argentine applied himself with his trademark bulldog like approach and a fine performance was capped with a classy goal. Tevez was perhaps deserving of the Man of the Match award but ITV’s “experts” gave Yaya Toure the prestigious title of McDonalds Man of the Match. Also worthy of note were the tireless performances of James Milner and Nigel De Jong.
All in all, a good day for City: Another season, another trophy.
Cech, Ivanovic, Cole, David Luiz, Terry, Ramires, Lampard, Mikel, Hazard (Bertrand), Torres, Mata (Sturridge)
Man City Team
Pantilimon, Kompany, Zabaleta, Kolarov, Savic (Clichy), Milner, Nasri (Silva), De Jong, Yaya Toure, Aguero, Tevez (Dzeko)
Words by Robert Toole