The wait is over. By 2pm this Sunday, players of Manchester United and Wigan Athletic file out to the Wembley pitch, to contest the Community Shield game, the annual curtain raiser for the English Premiership.
It has not been an easy transition for David Moyes. He is used to watching the Community Shield from home, while putting finishing touches to Everton’s preparation for the new season. However, he was Sir Alex Ferguson’s choice, as soon as the older Scot decided to resign at the end of last season. which means he has had to deal with constant barging from journalists about the Wayne Rooney situation, take United on a pre-season tour of Asia, etc. And to many neutrals, he has not handled it excellently. One by one, his transfer targets have slipped through his fingers and the only arrival this summer has been Varela, who is not going to appear regularly in first team matches. That essentially means Robin van Persie and his supporting cast, will start the game and perhaps the season.
Wigan ended last season with the FA Cup and the last relegation ticket. They have started life in the Championship well. The Latics currently top the division, after whitewashing Barnsley 4-0. Although they have lost Kone, Robles and Alcaraz to Everton, as former manager Roberto Martinez returned for some players, they have brought in Sunderland winger McClean and still look a compact unit.
It will be a proper game of football. Wigan were written off when they had to face Manchester City in the FA Cup final, but they pulled off a result that shocked the world of football. This fixture traditionally sets the tone and raises the hype for every new season, but it is not a definitive marker for how the teams will fare in the next nine months.
Having said so, I expect both teams to fully have a go. It’s their chance to make a statement of intent – a first impression that will send an emphatic message to other teams.