I’ll tell you this for free, folks – football is BACK. I’ll give you this bit of insight for nothing as well – if Mohamed Salah could finish he’d be one hell of a player.
Mo Salah had almost as many chances as he had days off between the end of the AFCON tournament and yesterday’s kick-off in the Community Shield – and he missed them. All of them. Apart from the penalty in the penalty shoot out, Salah managed to miss from five yards, hit the post, see one deflected just over and watch various other clear-cut chances come and go.
Liverpool looked like they might still be a little jetlagged from their various pre-season jaunts as Peppy G’s Man City settled quickly into the kind of passing rhythm that will have us wondering at what point exactly they will self-combust in Europe.
Guardiola had spoken before the traditional curtain-raiser at Wembley, saying how he was not prepared to gamble winning a hat-trick of Premier League titles by gambling everything on the Champions League this season. And, as a result, you could see he was taking the first title of the season very seriously – managing to become the first manager ever to be shown the yellow card at Wembley for moaning about someone getting fouled.
City led early, Raheem Sterling getting one of those chances that he loves – the ones from three yards where he doesn’t have to think about it.
Moments later, he was moved from goalscoring centre-forward back to the wing as Leroy Sane limped out of the action – probably upsetting fans of Bayern Munich more than the City faithful.
For me, one of the more interesting observations from the game was the realisation that Kyle Walker is slowly morphing into Pablo Zabaletta. That will please West Ham fans no end as he’ll probably end replacing the Argentine full-back at the Athletics Stadium in the next couple of years.
I also concluded that I liked the one-off kit being worn by City at Wembley – it was a plain affair, (unlike the match, ahem), shorn of the billboard advertising of Etihad Airways. Given all the pallava over the summer about a certain Irish bookmakers giving the soul of football back to the fans by not having their logo on the front of the shirts they sponsor, it was nice to see this slightly more subtle nod to history as the shirt was designed to start City’s 125 year birthday celebrations. And, if their celebrations go on anything like my Nan’s 125th, it is going to be a long season.
Despite Mo Salah managing to miss anything coming his way, Liverpool did manage to find an equaliser and take one of the better Community Shield matches in living memory to penalties. Joel Matip headed home Virgil’s cross – the defenders showing the attackers what was meant to happen in Claudio Bravo’s area.
And so to penalties – Allison did eventually go the right way for one put must have been worried about hurting his hands, so allowed it to go straight through them. Other than that, he played safe from injury by throwing himself out of the way at every opportunity.
Bravo, sensing this might be his only game this season, took it far more seriously and went as far as saving one – meaning City’s 100% strike rate saw them start the defence of their ‘quadruple’ in style.
Pep, mate. It’s still not a trophy. But well done, that was very entertaining.
Up at Old Trafford, where they were no doubt reminiscing when they used to take part in the Community Shield, it looks like Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has finally got his man.
Before we all start pointing and laughing at the price United are paying, it’s worth remembering that Pep himself wanted to sign Leicester’s Harry Maguire – though, admittedly, he fell of his chair in hysterics when he heard that they were quoting £80m saying ‘only Ed Woodward would be stupid enough to pay that!’
And, guess what?
Solskjaer is also ‘confident’ that Paul Pogba will at least be physically present at United this coming season, if not mentally. Real Madrid still haven’t shown Ole the colour of their money and, as a result, we are in for another 12 months of watching Pogba sulk his way through 90 minutes on Thursdays and Sundays. That’s right, don’t forget Manchester United are in the Europa League.
OGS also confirmed that Ashley Young has been named club captain for the 2019/20 season saying that whenever he is on the pitch, Young will wear the armband – and United fans are hoping that becomes a grand total of zero times he wears the armband.
Finally, today – Everton have signed a very good striker. They’ve shelled out £30m for Juventus’ Italy international Moise Kean – get ready to file this one under ‘transfers that looked really good on paper’.