It may be a match played for
charity, but there will be nothing charitable about the season's traditional
curtain raiser between Manchester United and Chelsea.
Both teams will approach the game
at Wembley as they usually do - seriously - and neither will want to let their
rivals get one over on them so early in the season.
Players do not enjoy getting
runners-up medals, in any competition. They play to win trophies and none of
the 22 players on the Wembley pitch come Sunday will shirk their duties.
That said, the outcome will have
little or no bearing on the forthcoming season. It's a one-off match and with
such a long campaign ahead, one game will not change anything between the two
Given that there has been no
Premier League football for the best part of three months, the Community Shield
is always popular with fans. But considering this summer's events off the
pitch, perhaps this time around there will be even greater interest.
Both clubs have undergone major
changes since their last competitive games back in May and Sunday will provide
a first real insight into what kind of impact those ins and outs have had.
First and foremost, many people
will be looking forward to seeing how the champions cope without Cristiano
They've brought in Michael Owen
and Antonio Valencia in a bid to compensate for the Portuguese's departure, but
they still look a bit light up front, despite Sir Alex Ferguson's claim he
doesn't need to buy again this summer.
In light of Ronaldo's move to Real
Madrid, Sir Alex will probably have to change his tactics this season and I can
see them playing more of a 4-4-2.
Certainly if Owen starts, as he
may well do, we're likely to see that kind of formation. Owen cannot play up
front on his own, nor is he effective dropping in and playing behind a front
He is best operating up top, where
he can get on the end of crosses and score goals. That can only add to the
importance of width to United this season.
As for Chelsea, it will be interesting to see them
under new boss Carlo Ancelotti.
The big question is this: is he
going to change their style? Since Jose Mourinho left, they've had three
different managers but none of them have changed their style of play.
Will Ancelotti be strong enough to
change the way Chelsea
play, to make them more adventurous without compromising their solidity at the
I certainly hope Ancelotti will
bring something new to the table. Yes, they've won trophies since Mourinho
left, but I'd like to see them winning things with fluent football, not the
destroying brand of the game they have perfected.
We will know more on Sunday, but
if Ancelotti proves as brave as I hope he is, we can expect a far better game
than we have seen the last two times these sides met at Wembley.
On both occasions - the 2007 FA
Cup final and the Community Shield two years ago - they served up a real dog's
dinner, but let's hope for something a little more entertaining this time
around. The fans certainly deserve better.
- Manchester United