Sir Alex Ferguson has suggested that his Manchester United team won’t be treating Sunday’s Community Shield match as a friendly given that the other side on the Wembley pitch will be Manchester City.
Ferguson has famously declared City to be ‘noisy neighbours’ and the fact that Roberto Mancini’s team can genuinely be considered as Premier League title contenders this season means that United will want to lay down a marker.
“It won’t be a normal Community Shield for Manchester United,” Ferguson admitted. “It’s about addressing our noisy neighbours again. It will be an interesting match.”
There is also the small matter of revenge for that FA Cup semi-final defeat last season when Yaya Toure scored the winning goal before Mario Balotelli incurred the wrath of the United supporters and Rio Ferdinand with some ill-advised taunts at the final whistle.
Unsurprisingly, the English champions are favourites at odds of 7/5 (William Hill – £25 free bet) and we should expect a strong team to line up ahead of United’s first Premier League game at West Brom the following weekend.
Javier Hernandez will be missing from the team after sustaining mild concussion during the New Jersey part of United’s pre-season tour, while Michael Carrick and Rafael are also set to miss out, although it might be the first chance for supporters to see David de Gea in action.
However, Wayne Rooney will spearhead the United attack and the England forward is 11/2 (bet365 – £200 free betting) to score the first goal of the game. Rooney has been flying in pre-season and could be partnered by either Dimitar Berbatov (17/2 Victor Chandler) or Michael Owen (8/1 bet365).
Meanwhile, there are some notable absentees for Manchester City, with Carlos Tevez not reporting back for duty until Monday which means the wantaway Argentine will not have the chance to torment his former employers.
However, compatriot Sergio Aguero looks set to make his first appearance in City colours, albeit from the sub’s bench and he can be backed at 8/1 (Blue Square) to open the scoring, with Mario Balotelli available at 17/2 (Victor Chandler).
If you fancy the blue half of Manchester to be celebrating at Wembley once again on Sunday, Mancini’s men can be backed at 11/5 with bet365 and it is a big price considering that they won the FA Cup here in May.
However, there will be several United players making a debut of sorts and that includes Ashley Young, who recently shone at Wembley in an England shirt. The winger can be backed at 12/1 (Blue Square) to score the first goal and 3/1 (Skybet) to score at any stage.