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United 0 Portsmouth 0 - Community Shield

This, as one text to me said today, is the perfect fixture to take wives, kids and girlfriends to. No hostility, a great stadium, and the summer sunshine were the reasons I chose to take my girlfriend to this, and it seemed like everyone else had made the same decision. It certainly was not the usual crowd and it lacked any form of tension or passion, but nevertheless it is always good to see United win silverware and of course doing it on pens brought back wonderful memories of Moscow.

Usually the trip to Wembley is packed full of colour and busy crowds, yet at 1.45pm one stop away from Wembley we boarded a half empty tube train exempt from any hint of singing or atmosphere. Wembley Way at 2pm was also strangely quiet and I started to wonder if we might be entering a half empty ground. As it happened, the attendance was well over 80k and this was only due to Portsmouth not selling out their end. But where did all these United fans come from? they certainly are not the ones at Old Trafford week in week out, let alone the ones who made the trip to Russia. It seems money has taken its toll and the Moscow trip, along with season ticket prices, left many missing the trip to Wembley. Instead it was the popcorn and replica shirt crowd, asking people to sit down who attempted to sing ’stand up for the Champions’ and not really getting what was going on. Most were asking where Rooney and Ronaldo were- you’d surely have to be on Mars to not know Ronaldo was on  crutches- and some looked on in horror as others tried to get songs with ‘naughty words’ in going. It had the makings for a frustrating afternoon, and that was before kick off had even come. Did they even know it was Gary Neville’s real return to the side as club captain or that Ryan Giggs had just broken every record known in club football?

The first half was pretty poor. There was hardly a shot on goal for over 20 minutes and Portsmouth seemed happy to sit back and defend. United started to ask questions and could have snug in a goal or two, especially when Fletcher missed an open goal and when Nani had a wonderful chip cleared off the line. Tevez was pulling all the strings and turning on the style, and this carried on in the second half. How United did not score is still beyond me. I have not seen any replays but as far as I remember Tevez and Nani were skipping past defenders to the byline, James made an incredible diving save off Tevez, Fletcher had a shot come off the crossbar and a blatant penalty was not given.

The final whistle sounded and those of us in Moscow smiled, remembering the last time we had watched Edwin between the sticks. And sure enough he did it again. Admittedly it was not as dramatic, of course it did not really matter and sure the celebrations were not on the same scale, but it was still great to get our hands on yet another trophy to get the season underway. The Pompey players and fans did not seem to upset at losing it either, and many stayed behind to applaud their players off as they collected their losers medals. Gary Neville then collected the shield to a big cheer from the red end- the first time the volume had really got going all afternoon- and the usual tacky celebrations ensued. Staged photographs, golden tape, the tannoy system blasting at full volume and pictures on the big screens of face painted kids waving flags. We stayed and applauded as the team made their way around with the shield and then dashed off as soon as we could. Me because I was still cringing at the lack of atmopshere and corny occassion, Chloe because she had wasted enough of her day indulging me by coming to a football match. Still, she should just be glad I did not wait to take her to Leeds away instead!

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