Daily Telegraph, Henry Winter: “No love lost. For those craving fireworks this season, Chelsea and Manchester United lit the fuse here. For those who enjoy their football spiked with bitter rivalry, tune in. For those who prefer love-ins, tune out. This Community Shield was all about good football and bad blood, stirring the pot vigorously as the Premier League hurtles back next weekend. Curtain-raising? Hair-raising more like.”
The Times, Oliver Kay: “It has been the longest, laziest of summers for the sport that never sleeps, but, if the sight of Wayne Rooney charging after John Terry was not quite enough to convince you that the football season is now upon us, then the finger-jabbing recriminations that followed the Community Shield match at Wembley yesterday set the tone for another ding-dong between Chelsea and Manchester United over the next 9½ months.”
The Guardian, Kevin McCarra: “This Community Shield occasion cannot be dismissed as a bogus match. It had the hallmark of authenticity in the rancour that so often comes to the fore when rivals meet. Manchester United’s reaction to the second Chelsea goal was certainly not a rueful shrug. There was rage over the substitute Michael Ballack’s unpunished bodycheck on Patrice Evra moments before Frank Lampard put his side 2-1 ahead.”
Official Chelsea FC Website, Andy Jones: “Chelsea have won the Community Shield after a penalty shootout win over Manchester United at Wembley, in Carlo Ancelotti’s first competitive game.”
So football’s back and life can finally return to normal. Weekends without football and more specifically Chelsea just don’t seem right somehow. There’s only so much one can do on a weekend without watching some sort of football and that’s why today’s match came as somewhat of a relief. We’re all Chelsea fans, that’s a given, but supporting Chelsea has become an addiction or an obsession for most if not all of us. We want and need to know what’s happening over the summer with our club and that’s why each transfer rumour, player arrival and managerial appointment provides so much fascination. The summer break can be one of the most frustrating periods for us Chelsea fans as we watch rivals splashing cash across Europe whilst we quietly wait in the shadows for the right opportunity to present itself, but this summer has been a very successful one with a morale boosting pre-season being directed by Carlo, JT and co. Today though would be our first real test as our “diamond geezer” (thanks must go to the red tops for that lovely nickname) took on a Fergie and his Ronaldo-less United team. It may only be the Community/Charity Shield but this trophy holds some good memories for both sides. Whether it be Jimmy Floyd’s introduction, the start of Didier’s mission to spook Philipe Senderos for life or the beginning of the end for Jose in the most pathetic demonstration of penalty taking ever seen, the traditional curtain raiser has always been a relatively good barometer for where we stand ahead of a new campaign. Optimism clearly abounds at this early stage of the season but this match would enable some of us the chance to critique Carlo’s new team in a competitive game for the first time.
United appear to have returned to the forgotten days of a pre-Jose era where 4-4-2 was the norm. Two out and out wingers supplying a regular front-two was the tried and tested combination Fergie relied on but football, in my mind at least, appears to have moved on. 4-4-2 seems rigid and old fashioned with too many straight lines leaving big gaps between defence, midfield and attack and Chelsea at least would never start that way. Our gleaming new diamond was on show with no real surprises in our starting XI. Malouda was given the nod on the left thanks to Zhirkov’s injury whilst I was pleased to see that my prediction regarding Ivanovic being our first choice right-back this season was proved accurate. The only real disappointments came on the bench where Hilario and Belletti were both given places ahead of Turnbull and Sturridge.
The match started brightly for those of a blue persuasion as we moved the ball quickly and confidently across midfield and the backline with everyone, everyone but Anelka that is, being given a touch. We looked relaxed and fluid with an early chance coming from Lampard’s corner as Ivanovic prodded the ball against the bar. Didier was looking lively with him firing in a number of shots against the nervous and distinctly David James-esque Ben Foster. England’s “future number one” as Fergie puts it was poor all day as he twice cleared kicks against Didier and virtually every clearance ended up out of play. But despite us controlling possession, we were posing little threat and soon conceded a sloppy opening goal. The ball was quickly switched from right to left presenting Nani with the opportunity to cut inside Essien and fire past Cech from 23 yards. Cech seemed to be distracted by Terry’s position inside the six yard box as he tamely let the ball through his grasp. But he soon made up for it with two brilliant saves from Park and Berbatov respectively as United increased the pressure being exerted on us. We were looking ragged as Ivanovic picked up a yellow for a cynical trip on Nani on the edge of the box and most worrying of all were the performances from the two men most under pressure in Carlo’s first choice XI. Mikel was having a repeat of his Reading nightmare as he was constantly out of position and slow to react to United’s quick and incisive counter attacks. As well as this, Anelka still hadn’t touched the ball with 20 minutes on the clock. Any more erratic performances from our number twelve will surely force Carlo’s hand with both Ballack and Zhirkov returning to fitness thus allowing Essien to drop further back whilst an anonymous Anelka is clearly not the ideal partner for Didier upfront. Stories regarding a Pato deal are gaining support and after six games in pre-season, Anelka looks close to being dropped. Today certainly didn’t do him any favours as the rest of the half and the match passed him by. A few speculative efforts apart, he offered nothing to the side and was regularly seen lurking on the touchline or strangely, close to the centre circle. The half ended with us controlling possession but offering little to no threat.
The second period began with Bosingwa being given the chance to impress in place of Ivanovic and the side quickly settling down after an obvious half time bollocking. We moved the ball quicker and were pressing higher up the pitch as Carlo had obviously been disappointed with a tired and rather lethargic first half. Anelka was still anonymous but despite effectively playing with ten men, our pressure and increased tempo were rewarded after 52 minutes. Ricky went on another of his crazy runs up field and after good work from Lampard and Malouda on the left wing, the ball broke to him six yards out from a weak Foster flap and he powerfully headed home. It was a deserved equaliser and from then on we pushed forward looking for the winning goal our second half play deserved. Didier continued to test Foster with some long range efforts but our midfield began to slow as the half went on and Carlo quickly made a change. The disappointing Mikel was replaced by Ballack, allowing Essien to stake a claim for that deep lying quarterback role. The move was immediately rewarded with Ballack using all his experience and Chelsea professionalism to set up our second goal. Fergie predictably complained but the first controversial incident of the season appeared to be little more than a case of misunderstanding amongst the rather dim United players. A few minutes prior to our goal Ballack stayed down from an Evra trip, referee Chris Foy looked to see if he could play advantage in our favour but blew the whistle as United had reclaimed the ball. But a couple of minutes later, Ballack decided to perform a typical Chelsea foul by body-checking Evra off the ball as looked to run in behind the German. The referee saw the foul, played the advantage as Carrick had the ball and let the game continue. But Carrick’s weak cross was cleared to Didier in the centre circle and 16 seconds later Lampard had finished off our incisive breakaway with yet another goal. Rooney and Rio surrounded the referee as Sky Sports commentator Martin Tyler tried to turn a perfectly legitimate goal into a controversial act of sportsmanship with some more pathetic commentary but in the end it was the goal we deserved for our domination in the second half. The game appeared to be meandering to another Chelsea victory at Wembley but we let in another sloppy goal, this time in the last minute. Bosingwa was caught ball watching as Giggs slipped in Rooney for a classy finish past Cech. And so, it would be penalties.
In the end, all Bruno’s hard work in the ChelseaLab as I’m now calling it, paid off. All four Chelsea takers (Lamps, Ballack, Didier and Kalou) scored confidently whilst Giggs and Evra missed pathetically. So we had finally won one and Cech had finally looked a little less hopeless in a shootout.
- Carlo Ancelotti – He masterminded a quick recovery after yet another slow start and despite it only being the Community Shield, he was visibly angry at our sloppy play after twice conceding unnecessarily. A good start to yet another new era but this time he seems to have the class and tactical nous to steer us to glory unlike last summer’s disastrous appointment.
- Penalty shootout – We won one. So Carlo must be doing something right.
- Malouda and Lamps – Our most consistent attacking threat and both looked more and more comfortable as the game went on.
- Ballack – Not on the pitch for long but his class, experience and quality in possession were a huge improvement on a second consecutive poor Mikel performance.
- Ricky – A goal capped off a brilliant return for one of the classiest defenders around. A definite first choice alongside JT.
- Anelka – Very poor. Completely anonymous and should be worried by the reports that we are making a new bid for Pato. Has done nothing in pre-season and it is embarrassingly obvious that our attack needs strengthening.
- Mikel – Poor. His new five-year contract appears to have ruined his game. Needs to snap out of it quickly or Essien and Ballack will be partnering Malouda and Lamps in our diamond.
- Sloppy start – Yet again we started slowly which will annoy the meticulous Carlo. Won’t matter against Hull but we will be punished in the later rounds of the Champions League.
- Cech – 7.5/10 – Bumped up his rating for the miracles he performed in the shootout. For any normal keeper those would have been regulation stops but Cech has been useless in shoutouts thus far so well done on actually saving a couple.
- A. Cole – 6.5/10 – Struggled in the first half with is footing but after a half time hairdryer he was close to being back to his best in the second. His duel with Valencia was a somewhat pathetic sequel to those famous head to heads with Ronaldo.
- Terry – 7/10 – Some vital challenges and clearances from Mr. Chelsea who got his hand on his first trophy of the season. Not bad seeing as it’s only August.
- Carvalho – 8/10 – A calm and classy display from the most talented central defender at the club. Would be crazy to sell him to Inter.
- Ivanovic – 6/10 – Was left exposed after our sloppy start but was a threat from set-pieces and I was glad to see him start. A personal favourite of mine.
- Obi Mikel – 5/10 – Poor. Was regularly caught out positionally and should fear for his place. A worrying dip in from our young midfielder.
- Essien – 6/10 – Didn’t get into the game much in the first half but as soon as Ballack arrived, he looked more comfortable. Perhaps he’ll have to learn to love the Makelele role.
- Lampard – 7/10 – Took a while to get into the game but as the game became more stretched, he soon found space and got his goal. Can’t really ask for much more from Super Frank.
- Malouda – 7.5/10 – Who’d have thought he’d be such a crucial part of this side? Where this puts Zhirkov I don’t know but he provided a regular threat on the left hand side and seems to enjoy partnership with Ashley.
- Anelka – 4/10 – Pathetically anonymous. Offered no threat and I wouldn’t be surprised to see Carlo either drop him if Pato arrives or revert to a Christmas tree with Lamps and Cole supporting Didier as soon as Joe returns.
- Drogba – 7/10 – Terrorised their defence when he wanted to but seemed lost at some points when Anelka went missing and few else chose to support him.
- Bosingwa (sub) – 6/10 – Yes he provided a greater attacking threat but his final ball was as poor as Ivanovic’s and he was caught out, yet again defensively.
- Ballack (sub) – 7/10 – A touch high? I’m a fan of the German and wouldn’t be surprised to see him start next week instead of Mikel. Still a class act.
- Kalou (sub) – 6.5/10 – A greater attacking threat than Anelka although that’s not saying much and he did score a nice penalty. Perhaps provides a more natural partner for Didier.
Man of the Match
I’ll give it to Ricky for another calm and assured performance at the back being capped by a lovely equaliser.
Well, what have we learnt? Carlo has witnessed first hand how sloppy we can be starting and finishing games and our penchant for starting games slowly is worrying. As well as this, Anelka and Mikel certainly didn’t do themselves any favours in terms of securing a regular starting place with anonymous and lethargic performances. It also seems clear that despite having a world class goalkeeper, defence and midfield, our attack looks weak and if we are to win any of the big prizes this season, we can’t rely on penalties to get us there. But it was a good start in which we all learnt a little more about our new side. Although, calling it new seems slightly wrong as not much seems to have changed.
- Reaction: Deserved win
- ‘I don’t see why I can’t go on until I’m 38 – then become a manager’
- Community Shield: Chelsea plan to add a new chapter to the history books