A Biased Ref And Comical Pens End United's Run
Well Chelsea did not make themselves more lovable in today's Community Shield game that's for sure. But they won the trophy so congratulations.
However, United's display was good, encouraging. We were clearly the better team in the first half, creating plenty of chances and scoring a brilliant goal - Nani impressed which is very, very surprising. Carrick and Fletcher bossed the midfield while Berba and Rooney worked well. Park was the weak link, his defensive and attacking work were both quite poor.
Second half was a different story though: Chelsea came out more determined and they started to impose themselves on our somewhat tiring team. Nevertheless we were still a threat on the break and all looked rosy until a horrible defensive cock-up cost us a goal - Ben Foster, such a liability all afternoon, wasn't blameless... - so Chelsea clawed one back, even though we held their Drogba-Anelka front two easily at bay.
Then came Foy's intervention. Considering that he twice stopped the game when Chelsea players went down with what looked like injuries everyone expected him to spot a clear foul by Ballack - only minutes earlier play was stopped for his sake - on Evra, especially as our Frenchman went down clutching his face as he was elbowed by the German.
To everyone's surprise, Foy totally ignored him, Chelsea did not bother to check whether Evra was all right or anything but made the most of their numerical superiority and scored a goal, Lampard applying the finishing touch. It was a despicable moment of horrible refereeing bias but we can expect this: the FA and the Premier League are all to keen to dispel the persistent myth that we receive favourable treatment from referees when it's quite clear it's closer to the opposite. Never mind that though.
The team, after a masss substitution, displayed admirable character in face of adversity and exerted real pressure on Chelsea. Just when it looked like our labours would come to nothing Giggs released Rooney - he was very nearly offside but Ashley Cole played him on - who produced a cool finish in the 92nd minute to take the game to penalties.
The less said about them the better though. Carrick scored a flawless one but both Giggs and Evra - who was excellent during the game - messed up horribly, handing the trophy to Chelsea on a plate. Our run is over - we've won the last two Community Shields and failed to make it a hat-trick. However, our attack was very, very encouraging even though Antonio Valencia got only half an hour after Nani went off clutching his arm after a reckless and unpunished challenge by Terry. Defence wasn't solid enough, with O'Shea all to frequently caught out due to lack of pace but Rio and Evans did well. Foster's performance is an obvious concern but I'd give him the chance to pull himself together.
Bring on the league games now!