David Moyes is to take charge of his first competitive game as Manchester United manager today when his new club tackle FA Cup winners Wigan Athletic in the Community Shield.
Moyes succeeded Alex Ferguson on July 1 following the legendary Scot’s shock retirement and the 50-year-old has endured a challenging start to his Old Trafford tenure.
His chief transfer target, Barcelona midfielder Cesc Fabregas, has spurned United’s advances, while unsettled striker Wayne Rooney has been the subject of two unsuccessful bids from Chelsea.
The former Everton manager has also seen his side win just two of seven preseason games, but the English champions will start as strong favorites against a Wigan team who slipped into the Championship after stunning Manchester City in May’s FA Cup final.
Victory over Wigan would give United the first piece of silverware of the new season, but Moyes says the credit for a positive outcome beneath the Wembley arch would have to go to his illustrious predecessor.
“I will be trying to make this the first trophy of many, but, if we win, it’s really something that will have been earned by Sir Alex,” he told Inside United magazine.
“It’s because of his good work in the Premier League last season that we’re in the Community Shield. I’ll do my best to finish off the job, but it’s Sir Alex who will deserve a lot of the credit if we’re successful at Wembley,” Moyes said.
United have sold more than 47,000 tickets for the traditional curtain-raiser to the English season — a record for one club at the new Wembley, which opened in 2007.
The fans traveling to west London will be eager to discover how Moyes intends to set up his side for the new campaign, after he experimented with different lineups during the tours of Asia and Sweden.
Rooney has reportedly declared himself fit after missing United’s entire preseason program with hamstring and shoulder injuries, handing Moyes a selection dilemma.
Whether Rooney plays or not, Moyes needs his players to hit the ground running, with games against Chelsea, Liverpool and Manchester City arriving in close succession after their Premier League opener at Swansea City next Saturday.
Whereas United have made just one close-season signing to date, acquiring 20-year-old Uruguayan right-back Guillermo Varela from Penarol, Wigan have already attracted 10 new players.
Irish international winger James McClean arrived from Sunderland on Thursday, joining Grant Holt, James Perch and Scott Carson as players who have joined the club since Owen Coyle became coach.
Irrespective of the result, history will be made today as the game will represent the first time an official match has been played in England with goal-line technology in place.
The Hawk-Eye system uses 14 high-speed cameras to monitor the two goals and sends a signal to the referee within a second of the ball crossing the goal line.