Manchester United battled back from a 0-2 deficit to beat Manchester City 3-2, claiming the 2011 Charity Shield at Wembley.
The ground was the the scene of the Red Devils' loss to their "noisy neighbors" in the F.A. Cup semifinal fixture last season, with Manchester City going on to claim the trophy; ending a 35 year trophy drought in the process. More than a month later, Barcelona taught United a footballing lesson, en route to a 3-1 victory in the Champions League final. Those results (the latter in particular) prompted Sir Alex Ferguson to reshuffle his squad, making a few splashes in the transfer market.
Out were long-serving defender Wes Brown, John O'Shea and Owen Hargreaves (even though his departure was mostly due to his injury woes), and in came Ashley Young and Phil Jones. Also as part of a plan to get more of his "up and coming" starlets some playing time, Fergie had players like Tom Cleverly, Danny Welbeck and Mame Biram Diouf feature a lot during their pre season tour.
Manchester United showed their class, potential and grit, grinding back from what would have a been a lost cause on other occasions. Despite dominating the game almost in it's entirety in the first half, it was City who enjoyed the look on the scoreboard thanks to a Joleon Lescott header, and a wonder strike by Edin Dzeko (reminiscent of Lionel Messi's strike in May).
United made a few changes and got back to dominating the game and it paid off through Chris Smalling (who latched onto an Ashley Young free kick to pull a goal back) and "Man of the Match" Nani; who equalized with a clever chip after some slick passing around the box, and netted the winner deep in injury time after a fatal defensive error by Gail Clichy and Vincent Kompany. Granted, Manchester City created a few chances and could have probably won this game, but United were the more deserving winners.
With their free-spending ways (Sergio Aguero the latest big name to join the club), Manchester City have been tabbed by pundits as strong contenders for the league title this season, so this win would have no doubt made a statement regarding their intentions on the field. Instead, it was their more accomplished neighbors who rose to the task, serving a reminder why their success is something that has been built and sustained over time, rather than a "fly by night" spending spree.
The questions facing United as they head into their season opener of course start with the goalkeeper. Anders Lindegaard seems to have settled into the team, but he's been with the club since January. David de Gea, tipped to replace Edwin van der Sar, struggled a little early with his decision making, leading to both goals by City. While the first one can't be pinned entirely on him, there is no reason he should have beaten on the second goal.
De Gea settled down and remained solid for the rest of the game, making a spectacular save from an Adam Johnson shot. De Gea has made some big strides in his career, but will clearly need more time to adjust to a faster and physical English style of play. Fans will need to be patient because it took a while before a steady replacement for Schmeichel was found.
Also more important will be the role of Tom Cleverly. He is a creative force, and his emergence could threaten Michael Carrick's position in the starting lineup. There is still the possibility of WesleySneijder joining the team before the close of the transfer market, but should that bid fail (City threw their hat in the ring, and probably offered more money), there is no reason why Cleverly can't move in to fill the void created by the retirement of Paul Scholes.
A lot of questions to be answered, but one thing we can be sure of is that United look a whole lot stronger and sharper than they did last season. In what is building up to be an exciting season, probably the best in recent years, United will definitely need to at least maintain this form if they are to not only retain their league title but bring in a few more trophies.