And we’re back! It seems like only yesterday that Roberto Mancini’s Manchester City were lifting the FA Cup at Wembley and now the Blues are back in the capital to take on Manchester United in the FA Community Shield.
The curtain raiser to the Premier League season is often seen as a friendly, an opportunity for players to stretch their legs after a summer devoid of, for the most part, international commitments. However there will be little love lost as the Manchester rivals go head to head. City actually boast a 100% record at the new Wembley having defeated United in the FA Cup semi final before the 1-0 win over Stoke City which gave the club its first trophy in 35 years.
Both sides will be without key strikers – City’s Carlos Tevez doesn’t return from holiday until Monday while United’s new baby faced assassin Javier Hernandez is recovering from injury following a busy offseason with Mexico.
There could be plenty of fresh faces on show though with Gael Clichy, Stefan Savic, David de Gea, Phil Jones and Ashley Young all available for selection in their respective sides.
Big money City signing Sergio Aguero is a doubt for the game as he is suffering from foot blisters. If he misses out then the task of getting goals will fall to Edin Dzeko and Mario Balotelli who performed well as a partnership in the 3-0 defeat of Inter in last weekend’s Dublin Super Cup.
Long term, Aguero is seen as a great signing by City with David Silva excited about the prospect of playing alongside the Argentine.
“Sergio Aguero is a brilliant player,” he said.
“I think he’ll turn out very well and he can really help us. We have to adapt with him and he has to adapt with us.”
One player keen to be involved is Adam Johnson with the England midfielder eager to confirm a spot in the England squad ahead of next summer’s European Championships.
“I want to be playing games because there’s a championship at the end of the season,” he said.
“That’s definitely at the back of my mind. I definitely want to go there after missing out on the World Cup and I think England have got a great chance.”
Darren Fletcher has trained fully with United this week having missed the club’s tour of America so Sir Alex Ferguson must decide whether the Scotland captain is ready to return to the first team fold. The Red Devils are going through a slight transition at the moment having lost Edwin Van der Sar, Paul Scholes, Owen Hargreaves, Gary Neville, John O’Shea and Wes Brown from last year’s squad.
United talisman Wayne Rooney has spoken with passion about the game, believing that a game against your biggest rivals is the best way to get back into the swing of things.
“You couldn’t get better motivation to start the season with a bang,” he said.
“It’s a great way to start pre- season training, knowing at the end of the hard work, before the games begin, there’s a Manchester derby. Playing City in the Community Shield is the best way to start.”
“I hadn’t even thought about it until I turned on the telly the other night and someone was talking about potentially the best Community Shield ever.”
David Silva: It was recently revealed that the little Spaniard has been dubbed ‘Merlin’ by his City team mates, no surprise given his spell binding performances last season. The little magician will be a key component of City’s attack once again, and his role will be even more crucial should Mancini persist with a more defensive setup in midfield. United lack a real holding midfielder so expect Silva to try exploit the space between defence and midfield.
Ashley Young: Having gone from a big fish in a relatively small pond at Aston Villa to essentially just another winger at Old Trafford, Ashley Young will have to learn to cope with squad rotation and a battle for a first team berth. There’s no denying his talent and at 26 he’s a good age to join a club competing on a number of fronts. Should he start it will be important to hit the ground running and set himself up for what is personally a huge season.
Manchester City 1 (Dzeko 67’)
Manchester United 1 (Nani 54’)
(Somebody will win on penalties)