Football / Charity Shield: United learning to live with their riches: Ferguson says he would have happily shared the spoils at Wembley

Arsenal. . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

Manchester United. . . . . . . . . . . . . . .1

(United win 5-4 on pens)

MANCHESTER UNITED on a lap of honour, Arsenal bellyaching about an unsympathetic press. 'Ere we go, 'ere we go. It was as if football had never been away.

If there was an inevitable familiarity about the two most successful teams in the country barely three months after their clean sweep of the domestic honours, the support they command is such that no match between them will ever be treated with contempt, and a respectable 66,000 were at Wembley on Saturday for the overblown friendly that is the Charity Shield.

That the Football Association has come to regard the fixture with rather more seriousness than the public was evident in the groans which greeted the realisation that a winner was to be found by penalty shoot-out. This tie- breaking lottery is a contentious device at the best of times. In the context of a charity game it has all the relevance of Vinnie's video nasties.

Both sides would have preferred to share the shield but, not for the first time, no one at Lancaster Gate had bothered to consult the people who play the game. As a result, a decent 1-1 draw, with which everyone was happy, became an ersatz 5-4 win for United when Peter Schmeichel saved the most casual of penalties from his opposite number, David Seaman.

Such a tame ending was an affront to a good, competitive match, illuminated by authentic goals of the highest class.

Alex Ferguson summed it up best. 'This is not a game that is meant to prove anything,' the United manager said. 'Both clubs did that last season. The Charity Shield should be a celebration of success. We would gladly have shared it.'

It was Ferguson who felt he had learned most from the match proper, although that worry-lined face collapsed into its customary hangdog mien when he was quizzed about his best starting line-up.

Splashing out pounds 3.75 million on Roy Keane must give him an embarrassment of riches in midfield. In time. The Irishman's below-par condition and consequent lack of stamina can only be temporary, and will presumably be remedied by extra training but, pending his return to optimum fitness, there is an obvious temptation to promote Brian McClair in his place.

A fixture for so long, it seems strange to find anyone but McClair wearing No 9, and it would be a surprise if he again took no part when United begin the defence of their title, at Norwich on Sunday.

For the moment, with Keane still trying to find his feet beneath some surplus avoirdupois, only Paul Ince is assured of his midfield place at Carrow Road. England's most recent captain resumed on Saturday where he had left off last season - as the most dynamic engine-room artificer in the country.

After paying a fortune for Keane, it raised a few eyebrows when Ferguson admitted on Saturday that he was not sure how effectively he and Ince could operate in tandem. On the face of it, the two grafters are a little 'samey', and the manager said: 'I had to play Roy from the start to see how he and Paul shaped together.'

For the first 25 minutes, when Keane was full of running, he had been satisfied. After that? Judgement had to be reserved. Hmmm. At pounds 3.75m, it had better work.

Ferguson's concern at the way Arsenal were able to turn the tide saw Bryan Robson introduced as a stabilising influence, midway through the second half. The old warrior is 36 now, and destined to keep the No 12 shirt for what could be his last season, but if the legs are slowing the spirit is undimmed, and as galvanizing substitutes go, he takes some beating.

United, who preferred the head- down pace of Andrei Kanchelskis to the more composed wing play of Lee Sharpe, were always the better side, but will have to train on, in racing parlance, if they are to emulate Liverpool and translate fleeting success into enduring domination.

Favourites they are, and properly so, but all last May's heady talk of a new golden era is giving way to a gathering suspicion that their campaign at home could be undermined by the opening of a second front, abroad. The glittering distraction of the European Cup could let in Aston Villa, Blackburn, or perhaps a resurgent Liverpool.

Arsenal, too, nurture title aspirations, of course, and in their case the diversion of the Cup-Winners' Cup is offset by the presence of nine Englishmen in their team to United's four. While the champions will have to chop and change for Europe, the Cup holders will preserve the precious continuity beloved of managers everywhere.

Arsenal's old strengths, and Achilles' heel, are immediately in evidence. They are impressively solid, if a little short on craft, in all departments, but their pressing need is to find a productive striker to share the goalscoring burden with Ian Wright. Paul Merson, a reluctant winger, is probably a better bet than Kevin Campbell.

On Saturday, as throughout last season, it was a case of: 'If Wright doesn't score, Arsenal won't' To the surprise of no one, bar poor Schmeichel, he did, staggering probably the best goalkeeper in the world with a volley hooked in out of nothing, from 20 yards.

A delightful goal, it was, only a shade better than the one with which Mark Hughes had given United an eighth-minute lead. After a summer of Sumo Merv, here was Sado Mark, Manchester's Macho Man harrassing defenders and embarrassing them with a typical tumbling volley to do full justice to an ooh-aah of a chip from the endlessly inventive Eric Cantona.

The issue should have been settled by a bona fide penalty, when Ince was tripped by John Jensen. Instead, we were condemned to a shoot-out as tedious as any Eastwood epic. Wright got it wrong, Seaman was anything but able, and suddenly everyone was shaking hands, wreathed in who- cares-who-wins smiles.

Enough charity. Our faith and hope is in the real thing.

Goals: Hughes (8) 1-0, Wright (40) 1-1. Penalty shoot-out (Man Utd score given first): Ince 1-0, Winterburn 1-1, Bruce 2-1, Jensen 2-2, Irwin 2-2, Campbell 2-3, Keane 3-3, Merson 3-4, Cantona 4-4, Wright 4-4, Robson 5-4, Seaman 5-4.

Arsenal: Seaman; Dixon (Keown, 45), Winterburn, Davis, Linighan, Adams, Campbell, Wright, Merson, Limpar (McGoldrick, 74), Jensen.

Manchester United: Schmeichel; Parker, Irwin, Bruce, Kanchelskis, Pallister, Keane, Ince, Cantona, Hughes, Giggs (Robson, 68).

Referee: G Ashby (Worcester).

Wolves have made an improved offer of pounds 1.5m for Darren Peacock, the QPR centre-back. Keith Burkinshaw has completed his first signing since succeeding Ossie Ardiles as West Brom manager, paying pounds 225,000 for the Preston winger Lee Ashcroft.

(Photograph omitted)

News
peopleHowards' Way actress, and former mistress of Jeffrey Archer, was 60
News
Robyn Lawley
people
News
people
Life and Style
lifeDon't get caught up on climaxing
PROMOTED VIDEO
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Sport
Usain Bolt confirms he will run in both the heats and the finals of the men's relay at the Commonwealth Games
commonwealth games
Life and Style
Troy Baker and Ashley Johnson voice the show’s heroes
gamingOnce stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover
Voices
voices In defence of the charcoal-furred feline, by Felicity Morse
Arts and Entertainment
Unhappy days: Resistance spy turned Nobel prize winner Samuel Beckett
books
Arts and Entertainment
High-flyer: Chris Pratt in 'Guardians of the Galaxy'
filmThe film is surprisingly witty, but could do with taking itself more seriously, says Geoffrey Macnab
News
people
News
A speech made by the Turkish Deputy Prime Minister urging women not to laugh in public in order to preserve morality has sparked a backlash on social media from women posting defiant selfies of themselves laughing at his remarks.
GALLERYWhy are Turkish women having a chuckle at the government's expense?
News
i100
Life and Style
Phones will be able to monitor your health, from blood pressure to heart rate, and even book a doctor’s appointment for you
techCould our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?
News
people
Extras
indybest
Travel
Ryan taming: the Celtic Tiger carrier has been trying to improve its image
travelRyanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?
Life and Style
Slim pickings: Spanx premium denim collection
fashionBillionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers 'thigh-trimming construction'
Caption competition
Caption competition
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Career Services
iJobs Job Widget
iJobs General

Data Analyst

£30000 per annum: Ashdown Group: A highly reputable software house is looking ...

SAP PROJECT MANAGER

£60000 - £70000 per annum + Benefits: Progressive Recruitment: SAP PROJECT MAN...

Microsoft Dynamics AX Developer

£50000 per annum + benefits: Progressive Recruitment: A unique and rare opport...

Team Secretary - (Client Development/Sales Team) - Wimbledon

£28000 - £32000 per annum: Ashdown Group: Secretary (Sales Team Support) - Mat...

Day In a Page

Save the tiger: The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

The day America’s love of backyard tigers led to a horrific bloodbath

With only six per cent of the US population of these amazing big cats held in zoos, the Zanesville incident in 2011 was inevitable
Samuel Beckett's biographer reveals secrets of the writer's time as a French Resistance spy

How Samuel Beckett became a French Resistance spy

As this year's Samuel Beckett festival opens in Enniskillen, James Knowlson, recalls how the Irish writer risked his life for liberty and narrowly escaped capture by the Gestapo
We will remember them: relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War

We will remember them

Relatives still honour those who fought in the Great War
Star Wars Episode VII is being shot on film - and now Kodak is launching a last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Kodak's last-ditch bid to keep celluloid alive

Director J J Abrams and a few digital refuseniks shoot movies on film. Simon Usborne wonders what the fuss is about
Once stilted and melodramatic, Hollywood is giving acting in video games a makeover

Acting in video games gets a makeover

David Crookes meets two of the genre's most popular voices
Could our smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases via Health Kit and Google Fit?

Could smartphones soon be diagnosing diseases?

Health Kit and Google Fit have been described as "the beginning of a health revolution"
Ryanair has turned on the 'charm offensive' but can we learn to love the cut-price carrier again?

Can we learn to love Ryanair again?

Four recent travellers give their verdicts on the carrier's improved customer service
Billionaire founder of Spanx launches range of jeans that offers

Spanx launches range of jeans

The jeans come in two styles, multiple cuts and three washes and will go on sale in the UK in October
10 best over-ear headphones

Aural pleasure: 10 best over-ear headphones

Listen to your favourite tracks with this selection, offering everything from lambskin earmuffs to stainless steel
Commonwealth Games 2014: David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end

Commonwealth Games

David Millar ready to serve up gold for his beloved Scotland in the end
UCI Mountain Bike World Cup 2014: Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings

UCI Mountain Bike World Cup

Downhill all the way to the top for the Atherton siblings
Save the tiger: The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The animals bred for bones on China’s tiger farms

The big cats kept in captivity to perform for paying audiences and then, when dead, their bodies used to fortify wine
A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery all included in top 50 hidden spots in the UK

A former custard factory, a Midlands bog and a Leeds cemetery

Introducing the top 50 hidden spots in Britain
Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

Ebola epidemic: Plagued by fear

How a disease that has claimed fewer than 2,000 victims in its history has earned a place in the darkest corner of the public's imagination
Chris Pratt: From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

From 'Parks and Recreation' to 'Guardians of the Galaxy'

He was homeless in Hawaii when he got his big break. Now the comic actor Chris Pratt is Hollywood's new favourite action star