Look, this is a post that almost no one is going to care about and I know that. I’m fine with it. But I came across this while researching a different post and we have to talk about it. Or I have to write about it so I can pretend someone else cares, because it damn near blew my mind.
Just for context: The 2007 Community Shield saw champions Manchester United face runners up and FA Cup winners Chelsea. It was the second to last time Jose Mourinho squared off against Sir Alex Ferguson in England.
That 2007/08 United team went on to win the Premier League and Champions League that season. They should have won their second treble in nine years if not for some horrible luck and David James standing on his head in the FA Cup.
That team was the best Premier League team ever until last year. Now they’re somewhere between the second best and the fourth best. (Editors note: It’s impossible to compare the team 10 years ago to Liverpool and City today. The game has changed so much. That United team accomplished more in a much more physical league. These City/Liverpool teams were way better in a much tougher league. I’m biased so I rank that double a tad higher – the reality is both City and Liverpool teams were probably better but I’d love to have actually seen them play each other).
The summer of 2007 was a big one for United. They had won the Premier League, went to the FA Cup final, and the semifinals of the Champions League. More importantly they had just finished their three year re-build. They were ready to take on the world.
Somehow… this is the team that Sir Alex Ferguson put on the field.
I mean, what the fuck is that? Thank god I was in summer camp when this happened because I’d have had a coronary if Fergie threw this team out there for a Saturday home game against Derby.
Four center backs, two full backs, one central midfielder, two wingers, and a forward! And look at that bench! Pique, Chris Eagels, Darren Fletcher, Nani, Lee Martin, and Phil Bardsley.
Some of this could be explained. Up until around 2007 John O’Shea was a defensive midfielder/utility player who played wherever Fergie told him to. But by now United had Carrick, Scholes, Fletcher, plus new signings Owen Hargreaves and Anderson so O’Shea never had to go near there again. Wes Brown ended up playing the entire season at right back because they had no one else (Gary Neville was hurt). Mikel Silvestre was on his way out so Fergie is trying to load up on that transfer value.
Starting Patrice Evra as a left wing? Umm ok, I guess? Still a little odd.
Nothing else about this makes sense. Where are all the players? Not even on the bench? In 2007 only South Americans who played in the Copa America would get a late start to the season. That didn’t effect anyone since Carlos Tevez wasn’t signed yet.
I get that it’s the Community Shield and it doesn’t really matter. Chelsea didn’t have all their players either. Well, they were missing Didier Drogba. But their shape and players still actually resembled what their team would look like that year.
Of course the craziest thing. United won. Dominated even.
Going back through title winning seasons and finding the ridiculous XI’s Sir Alex used to throw out there in some games will never stop being amazing.