Not quite there, yet: United 3-1 Chelsea

This inclination of our beloved Chelsea Football Club is not quite there. Yet.

Little-Engine-that-Could-Dean-Lindsay-.com

We're climbing. But we're not at the top of the hill - i.e. peak form, fitness - at this stage of the game. The FA Community Shield was a prime example of just that.

The Shield came with pomp. And pageantry. Chelsea, meanwhile, didn't really show up. Sir Alex Ferguson's Manchester United were deserved winners on Sunday afternoon - albeit by a somewhat flattering scoreline.

The industrious Antonio Valencia opened the scoring when, shockingly, the pace of Rooney allowed the much-maligned England forward - at least this summer - to work England's Brave and Loyal John Terry into a position of bother. Valencia ghosted inside the oblivious Ashley Cole for an easy tap-in.

Terry has slowly been descending into a vortex of ordinariness over the past two seasons. I would gauge to say that if he did not hold such strong influence in the dressing room, he may well have been dropped by now. Then there was Ashley. He simply wasn't in the stadium on Sunday. It was as if he had somewhere to be (Real Madrid?). He continuously was caught out or late tracking back. It was appalling. I'll give him a pass this time - seeing as he is the finest left fullback in the world. But I hope not to see anymore of this.

Chicharito popped up with a second for United, late in the second half (76min). The kid has it, whatever it is, as well as some luck. Nothing like a trip and an involuntary header from three yards. Kalou responded - I half-wish he hadn't; it masks his inept display - before some more comical defending allowed Berbatov to seal it in stoppage time. Hilarious was some 15 yards off his line when the young Jeffrey Bruma was coaxed into a commitment from the Bulgarian vampire. Easy chip from there, then.

sturridge
Sturridge, impressive cameo

On to the conclusions:
• Fair play to United. They were deserved winners. But to regard this as anything more than an exhibition win is a gross overstatement. Do not get me wrong, I certainly would have rather won. But, too much has been made of this result over the past few days.

• United were that better than us? Yeah, right. Too many have described the winners as comfortable, even vastly superior. On what evidence? The famous CFC controlled possession - albeit playing at a droning tempo - created far more opportunities (opposition with the clearer of those, mind you) and, when they decided to actually turn it on, proved to have the opposition on the wane. Then there is the most crucial of points - we were generally less prepared, and less fit, than United. Ferguson's men succeeded at exploiting that, proving much more clinical and efficient. That comes game time. They've had more. Simple as.

• We're getting there. "You were getting there?" Wretched Dazed and Confused reference aside, we are still a few weeks from finding our feet. Drogba isn't close to fit. Lampard, neither. In fact, I would gauge most of our World Cup boys have yet to hit the mark. United did not have as many at the South African party as we did, remember. I don't think we'll be there for West Brom. Perhaps for Wigan, not quite sure.  But those are winnable fixtures even at less than 100. By then, we should be in rhythm - and ready to pillage.

• What was perhaps most troubling was the clear lack of a creative link to the forwards. Or, really, a creative link period. Sure, Lampard will provide his usual but I don't see him as a guy who has the ability to create out of nothing regularly. We certainly are in need of that kind of player. Deco did it sporadically, but who else in this team can provide that? Ozil, Miralem Pjanic, Neymar, this should be a priority. I hope we have something in the pipeline with respect to this conundrum.

• Yes, Paul Scholes enjoyed a superb afternoon at Wembley. A masterclass? Perhaps, with his passing. But Paul Scholes will produce brilliance regularly if you give him time on the ball. The Ginger Prince could have been 60 years young out there, and sprayed those passes around with the amount of time and space he enjoyed on the ball. Mikel, where were you? Egregious.

• Let's not get carried away. We're fine. It was an exhibition. A fairly weak one, but an exhibition nonetheless. Sure, there are deficiencies - as with all clubs - but, on the whole, we're an incredibly strong side and will no doubt find our way sooner rather than later.

• The season is only four days away. Four days. Wow. Who's ready? KTBFFH

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