It’s strange to think that this time last year United were facing Chelsea in the Charity Shield (I realise the name has changed, but I won’t be able to keep it up all article without reverting, so just go with me here) following our league title win and Chelsea’s FA Cup win.
I was at that FA Cup final, the first at the new Wembley, and the whole day, even before the final whistle, was somewhat of an anti-climax. On the way down to London on the train, we were stationary at Birmingham station for around an hour. Fortunately we’d set off long before we needed to, so didn’t worry too much that we might miss kick off.
A voice boomed through the train letting us know that someone was threatening to commit suicide on the track ahead. A few crass jokes were made in the red filled carriages about it being Jose Mourinho, bottling it ahead of the final. But as time passed, the reality sunk in. Either this person was going to be talked down, and then we could set off, or, this person was going to kill themselves, and then we could set off.
People emptied the train, stretching their legs, on their phones to friends and family retelling the predicament. There were nervous looks at watches and guilty cursings of this person who was threatening to kill themself.
Finally, we got news. The person had ‘successfully managed to commit suicide’, jumping under a train that hadn’t got the message not to go through that station, and now they had to clear up the remains.
Christ, it was hardly the ideal start to what should be a jolly day out to the Cup final!
United lost the Cup final courtesy of a late Dider Drogba goal. The final was poor. Both sides, who’d battled it out for the title, as well as reaching the European Cup semi-finals, were absolutely exhausted. With penalties looking a forgone conclusion, it was pretty gutting to see Drogba’s goal go in, and the otherwise silent sea of blue erupting.
The journey home was long, with thousands of people trying to force their way on to the Tubes. Whilst queueing up I was confronted with a group of American girls, with their designer gear and obnoxiously loud voices. I can’t recall exactly what they were saying, but lots of talk about ‘Manchester’, ‘cute boys’ and ‘nice uniforms’. This left the surrounding fans restless and annoyed, thinking of their mates who lost out on tickets so these bimbos could go. All in all, the day was a complete wash out.
So, following a shitty day out, which unavoidably took some of the shine off our title win, the Charity Shield was a chance for a bit of revenge. Of course, winning on that day wouldn’t have made up for losing the FA Cup, but I certainly fancied being on the winning side.
Giggs scored the opening goal, with Chelsea new signing Malouda equalising. He totally did Rio Ferdinand and I was left feeling a tad nervous for the coming season, if this was a sign of what their transfers were capable of.
Unlike the FA Cup final, this did play out to a penalty shoot out, which United won convincingly, Edwin Van der Sar saving every Chelsea attempt, denying Pizzaro, Lampard and Wright-Phillips, whilst Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand and Michael Carrick all beat Petr Cech.
It felt good, but not great, and the anticipation for the coming season began.
Today we’re fighting it out against Portsmouth and the stakes aren’t quite as high. Essentially, who really gives a shit about Pompey? Of course, I’d always rather see a United win than a loss, regardless of the occasion, but there isn’t a lot of incentive to get excited here.
Redknapp’s side don’t have a bad record against United, with them collecting a couple of victories over us in recent years. More recently, there was their FA Cup victory over United last season, which saw our repeated Treble dream come to an end.
United were denied a stonewall penalty in the first half, only for Pompey to be awarded one with our keeper sent off in the second half. Unfortunately, Kuszczak had already been subbed on for Van der Sar, and he was the player shown red, meaning Rio Ferdinand had to go in goal for the resultant penalty.
When considering the easy run Portsmouth had after us to lift the FA Cup, it’s frustrating to see how easy winning the Treble could have been for us last season, if not for incompetent refereeing.
BBC: United were understandably furious after six minutes when Cristiano Ronaldo was clearly bundled over by Distin as he raced into the area, but referee Martin Atkinson ignored the appeals, to the clear disgust of Ferguson.
The Guardian: To say Portsmouth rode their luck would be understating the case by the length of the Manchester Ship Canal. United were denied a clear penalty in the first half, saw two certain goals blocked by astonishing interventions from defenders on the line, not to mention the Patrice Evra shot that David James touched on to a post, and had enough close-range opportunities to win a dozen cup ties.
However, some things aren’t meant to be, so I suppose we’ll have to settle with just the league title and European Cup. Regardless, I’d enjoy a victory over Portsmouth today, to settle the score a little. Of course it won’t make up for missing out on the FA Cup last season, but I wouldn’t mind seeing the likes of Jermaine Defoe, David James, Peter Crouch, Sol Campbell, Kanu and Lauren on the losing team today!
How interested are you in today’s match?
To mark the anniversary of United winning the Treble with a team that had academy products at the core, Made in Manchester is available for just £3 for today only. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.