The Charity Shield is not a reliable indicator for the season ahead

Some sections of the media have already proclaimed United champions elect for the coming campaign based upon ninety minutes of impressive football. But it’s worth remembering that in their treble-winning season they were steam-rollered 3-0 by Arsenal during that year’s August curtain-raiser.

Pre-Season friendly results reveal very little

City were unbeaten during the entire pre-season with an extremely impressive 3-0 demolition of Inter thrown into the bargain. United meanwhile lost 8-2 to Marseille. Okay so it was admittedly a glorified kick-about with Prince Albert of Monaco starting proceedings by indulging in some keepy-uppy with Tom Cleverley (it must have been this juggling act that got young Tom promoted to the England squad this week because it certainly couldn’t have been his atrocious summer for the U-21s) and bizarrely David Ginola was on United’s bench. But the side still contained the likes of Evra, Smalling, Jones and Wellbeck who were all involved at Wembley on Sunday. Watching these games there was no indication – quite the reverse – that United would begin Sunday’s game so fresh with plenty of movement, imagination, zip and zest right from the onset whilst City looked sluggish and, quite frankly unfit, throughout., Some looked as if they hadn’t even seen a football since last May. The pre-season friendly rota tells us precisely nothing once the whistle blows and things really matter.

Managerial experience is paramount at this stage of proceedings

This was Ferguson’s twenty-fifth English pre-season and sixteenth Charity Shield. It was Mancini’s second English pre-season and very first Wembley opener. More than any other aspect or statistic this was the key difference on Sunday. Muhammad Ali once said, ‘I run on the road long before I dance under the lights’. At Wembley United were floating like butterflies and stinging like bees whilst City were chasing chickens down alleyways. They are noticeably at different stages of development in their preparation and Mancini knew this beforehand declaring prior to the game that City were not 100% yet. If there is a repeat of this next year serious questions must be asked. Especially of a manager who is known for micro-managing every last detail.

Michael Carrick’s shorts are very big and very clean

Like a ticking clock once you notice these billowing, pristine-white tents, with his shirt neatly tucked in throughout, it really does start to distract and grate. Holding midfielders should have ruffled shirts and at least one grass stain besmirching his kit by half-time or he’s hauled off in disgrace. Maybe that’s what actually happened.

Rooney is reverting back to unselfish mode

Two years back Ferguson instructed his shaved chimp to be more direct and selfish in and around the box. Such a simple prompting produced a landslide of goals and a season where he sometimes destroyed teams single-handedly. After a prolonged dip in form, where he appeared to lose his way off the pitch as well as on it, he has finally rediscovered his explosive hustle and bustle…but the selfish dictate remains forgotten or unlearnt. The amount of times he had the goal in his sights, twenty yards or less out, on Sunday but decided to knock it wide or elect to play tippy-tappy football around the edge of the box was unreal. Good news for United’s opposition. Not so encouraging for England fans.

When YaYa is bad he is very, very bad

Very rarely do you get a mediocre performance from Toure. He is either bulldozing his way through a wall of defenders in that strange languid style of his like a pothead on steroids or he is abysmal, like a wardrobe on casters. On Sunday he was most definitely the latter.

When Wayne is dumb he is very, very dumb

Beating City narrowly, and requiring an injury time winner to boot – when you are at an entirely different stage of your fitness preparations – is not giving anyone a ‘football lesson’. If it was then Barcelona dragged United through University and made them sit an additional year’s masters degree back in May.