The Premier League season is just six days away and Sunday provided an indication of what we can expect over the next nine months in an interesting encounter at the home of football.
Valencia and Hernandez put United in control with goals either side of half-time and although Salomon Kalou set up a nervy finish seven minutes from time, the Red Devils completed a deserved win through Berbatov’s fine goal in stoppage time.
The game was also notable in that it saw Wayne Rooney recapture some semblance of form in the wake of his woeful World Cup; the striker setting up Valencia’s opener with a fine cross he will no doubt claim he meant.
It is the 18th time United have collected the trophy – a record – and they will be hoping it leads to them recapturing the Premier League trophy too.
Together with Paul Scholes, Rooney terrorised the Chelsea defence at times during an entertaining opening period in which both sides could have claimed the lead before United eventually did.
Branislav Ivanovic came closest for Chelsea when he climbed above Nemanja Vidic to reach Florent Malouda’s free-kick and angled a header towards the corner that brought a fine save out of veteran United keeper Edwin van der Sar.
The Dutchman’s inability to hold a long-range Nicolas Anelka effort earlier in the contest had led to a clear sight of goal for Kalou.
But from an acute angle, the Ivorian turned the ball back into the six-yard box, which was vacant of both United defenders and his own attackers.
United took a bit longer to get going but it quickly became apparent Scholes was going to take some stopping and Fabio Capello must have been wondering what might have been whilst watching from the stands.
Scholes’ calmness in possession and the accuracy of his passing mean, even at 35, he is very hard to subdue.
One cleverly disguised pass set Rooney up for a shot that just evaded the far post and Scholes was also the inspiration behind a Michael Owen cross that forced Ivanovic into a hurried clearance.
But it was the brilliant crossfield ball for Rooney, delivered from inside his own half that did the real damage.
Sensing there was little danger as he jogged back, John Terry offered Rooney the room with which to execute a perfect first-time cross, drilled right into the heart of Chelsea’s penalty area.
Only Valencia read Rooney’s intentions and the Ecuador man gleefully tapped past Henrique Hilario.
It was the kind of moment that proved Rooney is right to be lauded, while at the same time leaving his World Cup performances, particularly the awful one against Algeria, totally inexplicable.
Rooney made way at half-time for Javier Hernandez and the new boy came so close to releasing fellow substitute Berbatov with a sublime reverse pass after initially being picked out by that man Scholes.
The Mexico international then scored his first competitive goal for United, but it was otherwise hardly memorable – a mis-hit shot that ricocheted into his own face and bounced into the Chelsea net following Valencia’s cross 14 minutes from time.
It was harsh on Chelsea, who had just gone close through Kalou, Michael Essien and Ashley Cole.
Kalou did eventually beat Van der Sar but a frenetic spell of attacking failed to bring further reward and Berbatov’s deft lob from Nani’s cross ended any hope of a comeback.