The 2016/17 season kicked off with the Community Shield today as F.A Cup winners, Manchester United faced off against last season’s surprise league title winners, Leicester City.
Despite the little importance attached to the trophy, both teams offered their best football, and only one winner could emerge at the end of the day.
Just like it happened in the F.A Cup finals, United gave up an early lead and eventually secured a winning goal few minutes to the end of the game.
Jesse Lingard surprisingly moved past 6 Leicester players before slotting a fine shot through Kasper Schmeichel’s legs to put the Red Devils in front. Vardy got the equalizer few minutes into the 2nd half, but it amounted to nothing when Zlatan headed Valencia’s beautiful chip far beyond Schmeichel’s reach.
In a game that highlighted both side’s strengths and weaknesses, here are some of the talking points that emerged.
LEICESTER CITY REMAIN A THREAT
Kante might have left for Stamford Bridge but that hasn’t taken that much away from the team’s overall ability. His impact was definitely missing against Man U no doubt, however, the squad is beginning to adapt to life without the France international.
Summer signing, Mendy came on in the 2nd half and had few moments that reminded us of Kante. The other arrivals, Musa and Hernandez looked to have settled into the team well. Musa once again brought his speed to good use while the Spaniard was a threat with his long throws into the United’s box.
Mahrez and Vardy continually flashed last season’s heroics before us, and though the entire team needs to catch up with their old rhythm of last season after a long break, but they sure won’t be walk overs for any team next season. Defending the title might be out of range, but they would still go out to prove why winning it just 2 months ago wasn’t a fluke.
IBRAHIMOVIC IS A GOD, BUT ANY FUTURE FOR MATA, ROONEY AND FELLAINI IN MOURINHO’S LONG-TERM PLANS?
For the United players that featured, the game might have decided what to expect from them when the season begins and also what the future holds.
Zlatan continued to prove doubting Thomases wrong, and even if it seemed he still hasn’t come to realize Di Maria and Lucas Moura aren’t here any longer, he looked to be settling well into the new environment.
His winning goal says it all, but United’s cohesion in the final third must increase and gel if they are to get the best of the Swede.
While the star forward shone, same can’t be said of Wayne Rooney. Playing right behind Ibra and dropping back once in a while in an attempt to dictate play, the skipper wasn’t just convincing enough, and he doesn’t look ready to play regularly under a no-nonsense Jose.
His role clearly won’t be in the striking department, and neither has he proven he can boss the midfield. A benched Rooney could emerge next season.
Fellaini’s days at the Theatre of Dreams might be numbered though. Pogba’s arrival will definitely restrict his appearances heavily, and he could be out the club by January. He did nothing to justify his inclusion in the lineup and made matters worse by gifting Jamie Vardy an assist in an attempt to pass back to Degea.
A player also destined for an exit is Mata. Mourinho already revealed he will primarily be a squad player, and he defined what he meant clearly by that after bringing him on as a substitute only to withdraw him again. The writing is clearly on the wall for the Spaniard.