The rebirth of Manchester United?
The Community Shield was a lot more fun this year than last — higher-scoring, more wide open, and featuring the nifty moves of Javier Hernandez, Man U’s newest weapon up front.
In casual conversation, I’ve sometimes been one of the people poo-poing the Red Devils’ chances of mounting another title challenge this year because of their age. At some point, the Scholes/Giggs/Van Der Sar/etc crowd is going to lose enough steps that even guile won’t compensate. But really, arguing that Man U’s getting old is silly. Rooney and Valencia are 24, Nani’s 23, players like Rafael da Silva are coming up through the ranks, and United just added a genuine star in Hernandez.
His goal today was nothing special, and he actually missed a much better chance earlier on, but the kid’s full of tricks and looks like a born finisher. That rare formula of explosiveness + moves + lethality should cause fits for defenses that could focus primarily on Rooney last season. With Valencia and Nani blazing down the sidelines and Rooney and Hernandez up front, Manchester United could threaten 100 goals.
I don’t have to explain to anyone who watched the World Cup what a rare and special player Ozil is. As an attacking midfielder who could create for the afore-mentioned young stars already in place for United (and finish a few rockets himself), Ozil would cap off the start of a new era of offensive dominance for a team that struggled to score as easily last year as in glory days past.
Chelsea and Arsenal fancy their chances this year, but the more I look at United, the more I see a team whose young guns are ready to assume the mantle of Champions. Adding Ozil just might make them favorites.