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Saturday, 10 August 2013

United Corner- Community Shield 2013 (August 11th)

 United Corner- Community Shield 2013 (August 11th)

There are still times when I have woken up at times this summer and sat down to see what Sir Alex Ferguson has said about upcoming matches/transfer targets/injury reports and then remembered the greatest manager this country has ever produced is no longer in charge of the club.

I have been up and down many times since the announcement was made last May that Sir Alex was stepping down- at times I just can't quite process seeing United play at Old Trafford without the man who transformed the club in 26 years being in the dugout; But I then think this is also an exciting new time in the history of the club.

Many others out there will be just as excited and intrigued about the new season and we all knew that Sir Alex would have to step down sooner rather than later, especially with the rumours in the fanzines about his chances of being in charge in the next couple of years being clear for all to read.

The first big decision was appointing David Moyes as manager and I know there are plenty of fans and critics getting ready to pile down on him but all the fans would do well to remember what was advised by Ferguson in his farewell speech to the crowd at Old Trafford- 'your job now is to stand by our new manager'.

The fixture list has given Moyes a real test to open the season with games at Swansea, Liverpool and Manchester City and a home game against Chelsea in the first five fixtures and I think that would have been a tough period for even the great manager we had to negotiate. I really hope the fans realise that Moyes will need time to stamp his authority on the team and how he wants them to play and there will be some teething problems. It will be up to the senior players to try and maintain some sort of easy transition, but I am expecting tough times this season- you have to remember, United had a number of comeback wins last season and those games can easily go the other way, while I expect both Chelsea and Manchester City to put in a full Championship challenge under new managers.

Obviously I think both Ed Woodward and David Moyes would have hoped to have had a couple of new signings enter the club since the latter officially took over as manager on July 1st, but two high profile players we have been linked with have not been forthcoming.

I think it is a lesson to a new Chief Executive and a new manager that a public chase of a player can lead to egg in the face if it doesn't pan out- the last thing United need is to look like a club that can't attract the talent they are after, which is an angle the media will surely be running if they haven't already. Woodward and Moyes may be better served following the David Gill-Sir Alex Ferguson approach of conducting business behind closed doors, unless of course that has been the whole plan all along and the Fabregas chase was a mere diversion.

Personally, I always thought Maruoane Fellaini would be coming along with Moyes so I wouldn't be disappointed if the Belgian is indeed one of the summer signings, although I will also understand those who may feel underwhelmed after United were linked with both Thiago and Cesc Fabregas of Barcelona. I am of the belief that Fellaini can at least give us a presence in midfield when it comes to battling the midfield that City can put on the field, although my biggest concern would be playing the Belgian behind Robin Van Persie in a similar manner Everton employed him last season.

That position could be open if the sale of Wayne Rooney does take place in this transfer window, although the story has been rumbling on ever since Sir Alex Ferguson admitted he didn't use him in the squad for the game against Swansea because he had asked for a transfer.

I don't think keeping an unhappy player, who has requested a move twice in the last three years, is worth it, especially not one whose contract is running out in two years from now. However, selling him to Chelsea just looks like a move that would end up biting United in the backside and I can see Rooney having a big season there, even if he has already hit his peak as a footballer. Many thought last season that the signing of Van Persie would determine which of the Manchester clubs would win the League and I have a nagging feeling that something similar would happen if Chelsea do get their man, as I expect they will come September 2.

Regardless of what the squad looks like once the transfer window closes, there will be some pressure on David Moyes to try and get the best out a team that won the League comfortably last season. I just hope we will stick by him and all those that attend Old Trafford give the team the full support that they will likely need at times. The season kicks off on Sunday with the traditional curtain raiser and it is a good chance for Moyes to at least help United pick up some silverware before the big kick off next Saturday.

Manchester United v Wigan Athletic Pick: I think most people would have expected Manchester City to be playing Manchester United in the Community Shield, but the former failed to beat Wigan Athletic in the Final of the FA Cup and it is the latter that will play at Wembley for the second time in three months.

It is a season of firsts for Wigan as they will play in their first Community Shield after winning their first FA Cup, while the fans will also enjoy their first foray into European football, but at the end of the day they are a team that are in the Championship after not being good enough in the Premier League.

The Latics have lost Roberto Martinez as manager for this season too and there are a number of players that are still at the DW Stadium that will certainly be tempted to move on before the end of the transfer window. However, the side have made some good purchases likes James McClean and Grant Holt, but there is still a class difference between themselves and Manchester United.

I expect a full squad, bar Wayne Rooney, to travel to London for United this weekend and I expect a team that will be very similar to the one that starts against Swansea next weekend in the Premier League opening game. David Moyes will be aware that this gives him a great chance to show that it is business as usual at Old Trafford and that means winning another trophy- it would also ease any talk of him not having won anything in his career as a manager, something that will be brought up again if United fail to win this game.

United have dominated Wigan in their meetings, winning 16 of 17 including a couple of 4-0 wins last season. Owen Coyle also oversaw a 5-0 and 3-0 loss against Manchester United when he last managed against them as Bolton Wanderers manager. It has to be kept in mind that teams do still see this as a last pre-season game, although Wigan have begun their Championship campaign with a 0-4 win at Barnsley, but I expect United to make a statement about their chances for the season and I like United to win by a couple of goals at least.

MY PICKS: Manchester United - 1.5 Asian Handicap @ 2.05 Pinnacle (2 Units)

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