Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shield Is Only for Starters - Ferguson

Newspaper article The Journal (Newcastle, England)

Shield Is Only for Starters - Ferguson

Article excerpt

SIR Alex Ferguson declared last week's Community Shield as the start of a phoney war for Premier League supremacy and warned his young troops the "real stuff" begins at the Hawthorns tomorrow. Manchester United sent out a real message of intent at Wembley.

Dominant in the first-half against Manchester City, they nevertheless found themselves two goals down.

It was not until the interval introductions of Tom Cleverley, Phil Jones and Jonny Evans the Red Devils really cut loose, scoring three times to win the trophy and confirm their status as title favourites. However, Ferguson is wary about the heightened expectations.

Firstly, there were no points at stake. The Scot is also aware City might be slightly behind in terms of preparation as opposite number Roberto Mancini still has two signings to make in addition to inserting Argentina duo Sergio Aguero and Carlos Tevez into his team.

With Chelsea leading the scrap from outside Manchester, Ferguson is preparing to face down as many as six challengers.

He said: "They all knew last week was the Community Shield.

"It was not the real stuff. That starts on Sunday. "Wembley was an occasion. There was rivalry and everyone was motivated. We have to show that in every game.

"It is going to be tough. It will be a hard campaign, it always is. We will waken up to the fact last week was a different game."

Ferguson is given greater confidence because, of the youngsters on display last weekend, only goalkeeper David de Gea lacks top-flight experience in England.

The value of loan spells for Danny Welbeck and Cleverley, both called into Fabio Capello's England squad for this week's postponed encounter with Holland, at Sunderland and Wigan respectively is now being shown.

Jones has been maturing at Blackburn, while Evans and Chris Smalling are already well used to high octane combat with the Red Devils. …

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