Manchester United and Wigan Athletic square off at Wembley Stadium on Sunday for the first domestic trophy of the 2013-14 season.
The big sideshow around the FA Community Shield is that David Moyes will be without striker Wayne Rooney, after he left the wantaway striker out of his squad for the showpiece final at the home of soccer.
But Rooney’s absence aside, there are plenty of other talking points ahead of this one. Newly appointed manager Moyes has seen his side struggle to string together wins in preseason, but with the Premier League campaign less than a week away United will be firing on all cylinders.
Moyes should be able to call upon Nemanja Vidic Rafael, Patrice Evra and Robin van Perise after they were rested against Sevilla on Friday.
As for Wigan, it’s been a smooth transition since losing manager Roberto Martinez to Everton. The Latics new boss, Owen Coyle, has brought in a wealth of experience to try and help the FA Cup holders bounce straight back to the Premier League after relegation last season.
Wigan began the Championship season impressively with a 4-0 win at Barnsley and new signings Grant Holt, Leon Barnett, James Perch and Marc Antoine-Fortune have made Coyle’s men stronger over the summer. Check this out: Wigan will be the first team from outside England’s top league since West Ham in 1980 to compete for the Community Shield.
However United should wipe the floor with the Latics. They’ve only lost to Wigan once in 17 meetings all-time and anything other than a resounding win for Moyes’ men will be frowned up.
The Rooney saga rumbles on. But if Moyes wins his first-piece of silverware as Manchester United’s manager, some of the pressure mounting on him will ease. At least until next week.
A Community Shield contest has perhaps never been so eagerly anticipated, as fans of Manchester United are desperate to see Moyes lift a trophy in his first competitive match in charge.
What they’re saying
Manchester United manager David Moyes on Wigan: “Wigan have earned the right to be here. I expect it will be something of a new Wigan, but we’ll give them all the respect they deserve. This is a side that’s already been to Wembley and won twice — not just in the FA Cup final but the semi-final, too. We won’t take anything for granted.”
Wigan manager Owen Coyle on Moyes: “For me, he was a very good player, underestimated. He was a team player and he wasn’t afraid to give people a kick up the backside because he was a winner all the way through. I never had any doubts he would do well [in management] because he’s such a well-grounded and humble man. He was the right successor to Sir Alex and straight away he’s come in and had trials and tribulations to deal with, with the stuff going on, but he’s dealt with it well as he always does.”
Rio Ferdinand on United’s form: “The team is feeling good, we have been training really hard and it has been a tough preseason physically, but we have enjoyed it and we’ve had a really good time. Now, we are looking forward to getting into the games and the nitty gritty. It’s the first trophy of the season and we’d like to win it.”
Anything other than a Manchester United win would be a huge shock at Wembley Stadium. Wigan are full of life and have kept together a large chunk of the squad that got relegated. They could cause an upset… but I expect a United rout to silence the increasing number of doubters.