The 2019 Community Shield: A showpiece event or a glorified friendly?

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The 2019 Community Shield: A showpiece event or a glorified friendly?

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Siddhant Lazar

08/04/2019

It’s been a long time, too long, and yet will the Community Shield be enough to satisfy those football hungry fans before the Premier League starts? Will it survive the hordes of critics that walk about the internet? But more importantly, is it something more than just a glorified friendly?

It’s been missed, English football that is, with a 61-day break between the final game of the 2018/19 season and the Community Shield. While it’s not the most glamorous trophy, the Shield has been ever-present despite its importance reducing over the years. Once upon a time, the glorious looking Shield was once considered to be a very prestigious trophy and one that clubs would be proud to have in their trophy cabinet.

Because it is, after all, the one trophy that crowns England’s best, as it pits the winners of the FA Cup against the winners of the Premier League. Times have changed and now it’s used as just another pre-season friendly, with clubs often using it to show off their squad depth. It’s not the first time it has happened and it certainly won’t be the last time, given just how insignificant the Community Shield has become.

That should come as little surprise once again, given how insignificant the FA Cup has become. It may be the world’s oldest cup competition and yet no-one has really even tried to compete in it last season.  That is barring the teams that don't include the Premier League’s top six, who are the ones eventually lift it. Those are the teams that dominate support around the world and eventually, the teams that will lift the trophy, more often than not.

Last season it was Manchester City, before that it was Chelsea, Manchester United prior to them, and so on. The last time an “underdog” won was during the 2013 FA Cup final when Wigan Athletic pulled off a stunning win over Manchester City. But this is about the Community Shield, who, much like the FA Cup has lost its importance since the inception of the Premier League. That is despite being the one trophy that will decide the best team in England, which is quite shocking.

That should be the reason why it’s taken more seriously and yet, it’s more often than not considered as a glorified friendly. That is the way it’s gone over the 20 odd years or so, with its situation going from bad to worse over the last few years. Yet despite all the hardships it’s faced in the media, it’s still thrived, with Germany and France’s openers soon following suit. The Trophee des Champions, the Ligue 1’s version of the Community Shield, hasn’t been played in France since 2009.

Why? Monetary value or to spread the Ligue 1’s message, the answer varies depending on who you ask, with the final taking place in Tunisia, Morocco, USA, and even China (TWICE!). But that’s where the Community Shield defers, and it may just be down to the fact that Wembley holds close to 100,000 people, which does make for a rather fancy day out.

Then why did Mourinho chuck his medal into the crowd?

Then why did Kyle Walker say “Three trophies and the Community Shield”?

Then why Jurgen Klopp say in so many words, that it’s a waste of time and nobody cares if you win or lose?

Then why does nobody remember that David Moyes did end his time at Old Trafford with a trophy?

Times have very clearly changed, economic standing notwithstanding but maybe, just maybe, Liverpool and Manchester City can smash a hundred and eleven-year-old trophy back into relevance. They are after all the new Arsenal and Manchester United. The new Manchester United and Chelsea, the new Leeds United and Derby County, basically, everything points towards them being the new and hopefully the next great English rivalry.

Sure, they have miles to go before they truly reach their peak to honour that group of teams, but right now things look very very interesting. Because they’re at the stage where the two push each other to even greater things, which is what lead to the Invincibles. Which is what lead to Chelsea winning the 2012 and Liverpool winning the 1977 and the 1978 Champions League trophies.

It’s what changed English football for the better, two teams pushing each other beyond the limits and then some, to touch the sky. Two teams effectively changing the way the rest of the league played their football and on whole, affecting English football to it's very core. However, there is still so much to do and as much as we’d like to see it, the closest we’ll get to off-field drama are the interviews. Jurgen Klopp throwing smartly aimed jibs at Guardiola, Guardiola responding in like, mixing in his own spice to the argument.

It’s entertaining, but it’s certainly no Pizza-gate or the Battle of Old Trafford. Yet this modern gentlemanly battle between the two sides may just be the closest to replacing the great English rivalry. And maybe, that’s just what the Community Shield needs to revert it back into an era of relevance. Because while it may have survived in this tough environment, it needs to start thriving once again.

It needs to become relevant again, relevant to such a level that fans will be proud to say “We won the Community Shield. Relevant to such a level that Kyle Walker will never ever say “three trophies and the Community Shield.” Otherwise, what’s the use of fighting for a glorified friendly?

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