Manchester City obviously confused the Community Shield with the X-Factor auditions taking place alongside Wembley Stadium.
The slapstick defending by the Champions of England would have earned four big fat Xs from Simon Cowell and his fellow judges…sending Manuel Pellegrini’s team on their way as chronic under achievers, who should never have been allowed up on the stage.
But as always, perspective is required when analysing what is widely regarded as a ‘warm up’ game, albeit one with a trophy, prestige and early season bragging rights at stake.
Amid Arsene Wenger’s perpetual whinging about everything and anything associated with Manchester City, you could never call this fixture a friendly.
That said, City could hardly have been more accommodating to an accomplished and polished Arsenal.
With more than eight first teamers missing from City’s starting XI, Pellegrini had more excuses than there were giddy Gooners in the 71,523 crowd, who celebrated as if the North Londoners had won the World Cup, Champions League and Premier League, all at the same time.
Sarcasm aside, Arsenal were by far the better side on the day and thoroughly deserving of the win. The Gunners were as brilliant as City were abject.
If a City team and subs bench stacked with the likes of Hart, Zabaleta, Kompany, Demichelis, Fernandinho, Silva, Lampard, Aguero, Sagna and new signing Eliaquim Mangala, start their Premier League defence with wins over Newcastle, Liverpool and Stoke, these Wembley woes will soon be forgotten.
Solace was sought by the 20,000+ travelling City fans in the fact that the winners of the Community Shield invariably fail to go on to lift the Premier League title in the same season.
Despite the world, his wife and their dog (no disrespect cat lovers) knowing that the Community Shield matters not a jot in the grand scheme of English football, it was City’s pathetic capitulation on the day that had the hackles rising.
Chronic travel difficulties caused by severe rail disruption from Manchester to London, were compounded by the tail end of Hurricane Bertha wagging its way across the country.
It undoubtedly contributed to a below par turnout from the travelling City support. For those who took to coaches and cars, slushed through driving rain and appalling motorway monsoons there was to be no pot of gold at the end of the Wembley Arch rainbow.
The sun shone brightly for the majority of the 90 minutes, but beneath the bright blue August skies all the City fans had to focus on was a right old shower.
Nobody, but nobody, has been or is a bigger advocate of Manuel Pellegrini than I. He will become City’s most successful ever manager during the next two years of his contract and possibly beyond, but both he and the players let the fans down with this farcical showing.
If the Community Shield is truly an irrelevance then why not say so and save thousands of loyal supporters the time, effort and expense of going to watch?
It isn’t sour grapes, it’s just bloody irritating.
If the players, who are being paid to turn out, can’t be arsed, who in their right minds should expect the paying supporters to give a flying wotsit?
To quote one of Manchester City’s finest – none other than Noel Gallagher – it was one of those occasions when Yaya Toure turned out, set up his deck chair in the centre circle and mucked around on his iPad. He may as well have done, such was his contribution.
He couldn’t even conjure up a consolation goal so the witty travelling fans could serenade him with a sarcastic chorus of ‘Happy Birthday to you…’
There’s no point in dissecting each and every individual performance but City’s ramshackle defence warrants a special mention. My sage like Dad – God rest him – had a very apt turn of phrase that would apply to Messrs Caballero, Clichy, Kolarov, Boyata and Nastasic: ‘They’re like my backside…best kept out of sight!’
Is that overly harsh? Maybe. There’ll be howls of dismissive derision about the display and 3-0 defeat, but equally, a vociferous lobby pointing out that the real business starts on Tyneside.
Whilst undeniably true, it shouldn’t prevent the disdain for City’s shortcomings being expressed. City’s gravy train riders need to be disembarking before September 1.
Boyata and Nastasic are easy targets such was their chronic ineptitude, and yet it is the woeful young Belgian who has a new two year contract while Nasty heads for the Etihad exit.
Young Dedryk displayed great promise when Roberto Mancini thrust him into the red hot cauldron of League Cup semi finals against Manchester United in 2010/11.
He looked a real prospect, but sadly Boyata has gone backwards in his levels of performance. The same applies to ‘Nasty’ the 20-year old Serbian who joined from Fiorentina in 2011.
He could still have what it takes, but a £15m move back to Serie A looks increasingly likely this summer.
Another fallen idol, Micah Richards is also odds on to go after one of the most promising City careers went into rapid reverse, following the 2012 title triumph.
A litany of injuries, disproportionate muscle bulk and a lack of mobility seem to have conspired to thwart the hugely likeable Micah, a product of City’ s much vaunted Academy.
It’s rumoured that Micah once said he wanted to be the best defender in England. The retort from one of the most decorated of players at City was: “If that’s the case why are you the last one on and first one off the training ground?”
At 3-0 down – when it could so easily have been six – Richards took on the Captain’s armband as a76th minute substitute, merely adding to the surreal experience.
It was suggested Micah had come on in case City could miraculously pull it back to 3-3 and take it to penalties. Rumour has it that the City right back’s last spot kick – against Olympiacos – is still being tracked by NASA satellites.
Undeniably a popular individual at the Etihad, Richards’ time is up. The arrival of Bacary Sagna confirmed as such.
Notwithstanding the need for a home-grown balance, City would do well to sell Micah, Scott Sinclair and John Guidetti this month, possibly pulling in £12m-£15m.
Coupled with Javi Garcia’s imminent £13m move to Zenit St Petersburg, Jack Rodwell’s £10m switch to Sunderland and Nastasic’s probable Italian return, it could mean City balancing this summer’s transfer budget with a zero net spend.
That’s one in the eye for UEFA’s Unfair Financial Fair Play and leaves City with £49m to spend, although that seems unlikely in light of City CEO Ferran Soriano’s recent comments…but never say never.
City had an encouraging tour of the USA with Stevan Jovetic looking a real prospect for 2014/15. He and City’s strike force will only be as good as their supply lines and there remains a feeling that an Isco or DiMaria would reinforce the creativity of the side.
Such a signing is improbable, but financially it could still be possible if the deadwood is chopped out of the squad.
Arsenal’s two first half goals owed much to the zip of their marauding midfield which scythed through City’s blancmange of a defence, Cazorla and Ramsey expertly finishing past an exposed Willy Caballero.
Giroud’s 25-yard dipping strike on the hour, found Caballero not really knowing if he was having a sh*t shave or a haircut (!)as the Argentine keeper was left flapping at thin air. Game over, 3-0 and City desperate to avoid further embarrassment.
A happy Whinger could lay claim to an FA Cup & Community Shield double, while Pellegrini sets out his stall out to retain the PL title, progress deep into the knockout stages of the Champions League and pick up one or two domestic cups.
City were outplayed on the day, but for all for the Gunner’s bluster and bravado I’d rather be an Etihad than an Emirates dweller for the seasons that lie ahead.
The final note has to go to an Arsenal boy band from ‘Norf Larndan’ who, spotting yours truly in a Man City ‘Champions 14’ shirt at Wembley Central decided to ‘harmonise’ ‘You’re the Spurs of Manchester , you’re the Spurs of Manchester…’ repeat to fade. A puny attempt to insult the best team in all the land and all the world.
Singing in the key of ‘off major’, the four-strong troupe must have been told they’d go far by the X Factor judges…New Zealand perhaps!
For once I’d be in agreement with Simon Cowell. So much for Community spirit.
By David Walker
www.readbutneverred.com @ReadButNeverRed @djwskyblu