Manchester City won the Community Shield on Sunday, defeating Chelsea 2-0 at Wembley. It was a game which was played against a backdrop of missing players, after World Cup duty had both clubs short of their full complement.
It meant Chelsea fielded Ross Barkley, not a usual starter and City fielded 18-year-old talent, Phil Foden. This could have been a ceremonial passing of the torch between the pair, if Barkley’s time had not passed so long ago.
Foden was impressive throughout. Brilliant in possession and positive in his movement. It was like going back in time and looking at the Barkley that burst onto the Everton scene seven years ago.
Despite an impressive pre-season, he looked lost at times against Manchester City, as Foden continued to run the show.
It was certainly a perfect sign of how much Barkley has dropped off since leaving Everton in January for just £15 million.
Everton felt they had the next Paul Gascoigne in Barkley. However, injuries and form had left him a shadow of his best self toward the end of his time at Goodison Park.
But Barkley made the wrong move for his career. Chelsea will offer him few opportunities to impress next season. Barkley should either have stayed at Everton, or found himself a home at a similar level if things had become that unbearable at his childhood club.
Foden’s brilliance, compared to Barkley’s frustration, just highlighted that fact.
Everton will still feel they have lost an amazing talent. But Barkley’s decision to head to London continues to look a baffling one.