Football: 5 things learnt from Man United's Community Shield win over Leicester

Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates with the trophy after winning the FA Community Shield.
Manchester United's Wayne Rooney celebrates with the trophy after winning the FA Community Shield. PHOTO: REUTERS

LONDON (AFP) - Manchester United beat Leicester 2-1 in the Community Shield at Wembley on Sunday (Aug 7). Here AFP Sports looks at five things learnt from the annual curtain raiser to the English top-flight season:

1. Pogba deal essential for United


Paul Pogba at the the Euro 2016 quarter-final football match between France and Iceland at the Stade de France in Saint-Denis, near Paris, on July 3. PHOTO: AFP

 

United's lengthy courtship of Paul Pogba appears to be reaching a successful conclusion and the France star can't arrive soon enough on the evidence of the pedestrian efforts of Michael Carrick and Marouane Fellaini in central midfield.

United confirmed before kick-off that Pogba had been given permission to have a medical check-up ahead of a reported world record transfer from Juventus and it was easy to see why boss Jose Mourinho was willing to break the bank to bring the midfield dynamo back to Old Trafford four years after he moved to Italy.

Carrick was composed on the ball as ever, but had little real influence on proceedings, while Fellaini was totally miscast as a deep-lying midfielder, with his mistake for Leicester's equaliser typical of his star-crossed time with United.

2. Ibrahimovic steals the spotlight


Man Utd's Swedish striker Zlatan Ibrahimovic celebrates their second goal during the FA Community Shield football match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Wembley Stadium in London on August 7. PHOTO: AFP

Never shy of blowing his own trumpet, Zlatan Ibrahimovic claims winning silverware in his first season at United will be a piece of cake and the serial trophy collector produced an impressive statement of intent with his late winner.

At 34, the ex-Sweden forward is in the twilight of his glittering career, but he has always had a keen eye for the spotlight and, after a generally quiet competitive debut, the former Paris Saint-Germain star underlined his value to United in the 83rd minute when he towered above hulking defender Wes Morgan to guide a superb header into the far corner.

3. Vardy back in the groove


Leicester City's Jamie Vardy celebrates after scoring during the English FA Community Shield soccer match between Manchester United and Leicester City at Wembley stadium in London, Britain, August 7. PHOTO: EPA

Jamie Vardy says his life has been "carnage" since the end of last season as the Leicester striker comes to terms with his newfound celebrity and he looked relieved to be able to get back to focusing on football in a lively performance.

The 29-year-old carried a constant threat and equalised in typically predatory fashion in the 52nd minute when he pounced on Fellaini's woeful back pass, rounded David de Gea and slotted into the empty net.

Vardy's haul of 24 league goals last season fired Leicester to the title and the sight of the forward back scoring in a blue shirt following his close-season decision to snub a move to Arsenal suggests his meteoric rise isn't over yet.

4. Promising start for Bailly


Man Utd manager Jose Mourinho celebrates with his players after the team beat Leicester 2-1 during the FA Community Shield at Wembley Stadium in London, Britain, August 7. PHOTO: EPA

Determined to shore up United's sometimes error-prone defence, Mourinho turned to Ivory Coast centre-back Eric Bailly, a £30 million (S$53 million) signing from Villarreal, and the 22-year-old made a good first impression against Leicester's rugged forwards.

More mobile and aggressive than Chris Smalling and Daley Blind, United's first-choice centre-backs for much of last season, Bailly snuffed out a series of potentially dangerous situations in a no-nonsense manner that will have reassured Mourinho he has invested wisely.

5. Leicester clearly miss Kante


N'Golo Kante (left) and Albania's midfielder Amir Abrashi vie for the ball during the Euro 2016 group A football match at the Velodrome stadium in Marseille on June 15. PHOTO: AFP

While 10 of the 11 regulars who helped Leicester win the Premier League were in the starting line-up, the one who was missing - N'Golo Kante - already looks a significant loss.

He was the heart and soul of Leicester's shock title triumph with his one-man wrecking-ball displays in central midfield, a tour de force that convinced Chelsea to sign the France international for £30 million.

Andy King was Kante's replacement at Wembley and the Welshman's limitations were laid bare as Leicester were largely unable to recreate the relentless tempo that carried them to the title.