Another season, another trophy for United
The way Manchester United handed their noisy neighbours a two-goal lead, and then snatched it away with the swashbuckling swagger of serial winners, tells you everything you need to know about the rival managers and the difference between their respective sides.
When Sir Alex Ferguson celebrated Nani’s dramatic injury time goal that completed yet another glorious comeback to clinch a 3-2 triumph and the Community Shield in the new season’s curtain-raiser at Wembley, the watching world knew it was the just reward for playing positive, entertaining football.
Roberto Mancini has spent million assembling a squad of talented players – and appears to have unlimited riches at his disposal. But the sum of City’s expensive parts is so much less than you would expect. And the negative footballing philosophy of the Italian is more likely to bore opponents into submission than blow them away with ambition.
United play football from a planet City fans can only dream about. And that is the difference. City are dreamers who think they have reached the promised land just because they have ended their 35 year wait for a trophy by winning the FA Cup and have the financial muscle of Sheikh Mansour to turn them into a title winning dynsasty. They have the money. But the philosophy and cautious negativity of their manager is their achilles heel.
At half-time the talking point was whether or not United’s boss had spent wisely on investing so heavily in 20 year-old keeper David De Gea, after the youngster was arguably at fault for both City’s goals at the end of a half dominated by United. But a Fergie team talk and 45 minutes later, it was back to the familar chorus of ‘Glory glory Man United – and the Reds go marching on” – while City fans were left to ask themselves ‘Are they really ready to challenge United for the Premier League title?’
Much will depend on how they shape their team to accommodate their 35 million pound signing Sergio Aguero, the brilliant Argentine, and whether or not they can patch up their fall-out with want-away skipper Carlos Tevez.
Meanwhile, in the year that ends with Sir Alex celebrating his 70th birthday, the signs are that the old master has sown the seeds for yet another team for the future. Young England stars Phil Jones, Chris Smalling, Ashley Young and Tom Cleverley all shone brightly at Wembley in a team that has youth, experience and that elusive X-factor that City are finding money just can’t buy.