The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “While United, busier in attack, deserved to be victors, they will be conscious, too, that Chelsea’s line-up was a distorted reflection of the prowess that Jose Mourinho can call on when there are fewer problems. Didier Drogba has hurt his knee and, though a scan should confirm that he will be back in 10 days, Mourinho was not confident enough of Andriy Shevchenko’s fitness to use the Ukrainian here. If it was peculiar to witness Joe Cole give his own interpretation of centre-forward play, it is likely that Mourinho wanted to protect Pizarro, who eventually took part for 38 minutes, since he has no other fit strikers remaining.”
Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “Football, the sport that never sleeps, hardly seems to have had a lie-down this summer, and events here yesterday maintained familiar themes from last season. All the talk was of Chelsea’s injury travails, Jose Mourinho’s quixotic streak, Manchester United’s rich attacking potential, and the enduring excellence of Ryan Giggs, who continues to give Old Father Time the runaround.”
The Times, Oliver Kay: “A man with Mourinho’s competitive instincts would not readily concede a game of tiddlywinks – not to mention chess, as Sir Alex Ferguson did in a somewhat withering pre-match assessment of Chelsea’s entertainment value – but, as Wayne Rooney’s kick condemned them to the most perfunctory of penalty shoot-out defeats yesterday, the rueful smile across the face of the Portuguese seemed less to do with the loss of a trophy than with the potential absence of up to ten players when the new season starts for real this weekend.”
The Independent, Sam Wallace: “From his place on the bench even Jose Mourinho found it hard to suppress a smile at the appaling success his team endured from the penalty spot – and he is not known for making light of failure. On the English football season’s great irrelevant opening day, Edwin van der Sar was the hero but the atmosphere was soon a good deal chillier around the Chelsea manager as the start of his campaign threatened to disintegrate.”
Official Chelsea FC Website, Andy Jones: “So it was a repeat of the 1997 Charity Shield, as we lost out again to United on penalties, but the closeness of the match suggests there will be a very interesting season ahead.”
- Florent Malouda. Played really well during the 50 minutes he was on the pitch and scored a cracking goal. Showed great tenacity and strength to hold off Rio Ferdinand before flicking the ball round Edwin Van der Sar with the outside of his left foot. Picked up a knock in the process and was eventually replaced by Claudio Pizarro, who also did okay.
- Ashley Cole. Awarded the Man of the Match champagne by the sponsors to the bemusement of some. Had a solid game in defence and played a delightful pass from which Malouda scored the equaliser. The two of them could form a pretty formidable pairing down the left. Cole probably was our man of the match.
- Tal Ben Haim. John Terry’s injury means Ben Haim will have a key role to play in the first couple weeks of the season. Wasn’t outstanding in this game but certainly an improvement on Khalid Boulahrouz and Robert Huth. His versatility is sure to prove invaluable. A great signing on a free.
- Injuries to John Terry and Didier Drogba. Both have knee injuries and Terry is expected to be out for at least a month, while Drogba could be back in 10 days. While the squad has more depth this season, it’s got to be a concern that we still seem to rely so heavily on these players.
- Frank Lampard. Poor by his standards throughout pre-season and pretty much anonymous in this game until asked to step up and take a penalty. Let’s hope his broken toe is to blame. It’s certainly not Michael Ballack’s fault.
- Glen Johnson. Alex Ferguson targeted him as our weakness in defence, and while he coped reasonably well I don’t feel that his year-long loan at Portsmouth has improved him. He’s just not quite good enough for a team hoping to win the Premiership and Champions League. Seville’s Daniel Alves could be the answer.
- Penalty kicks. Utter crap. Let’s just be thankful that the FA Cup Final didn’t go the distance.
Man of the Match
While it would be silly to get overly negative before the season has even started, the number and frequency of injuries to key players is a worry. Terry, who looked to be back to his best in pre-season, seems to be jinxed, Ballack hasn’t been fit for months, Wayne Bridge is out for a while yet, and Drogba could miss the first two games of the season. The injuries to Andriy Shevchenko, Claude Makelele, Paulo Ferreira, and Salomon Kalou aren’t thought to be serious, but they’re still a concern. Mourinho could do with Alex signing on the dotted line as soon as possible. The big Brazilian was granted a work permit last week so hopefully it’s just a matter of time.