Man United set for a 'Brianstorm' start to the season

Posted by Musa Okwonga

So the start to Manchester United's title defence, and to David Moyes' tenure as their new manager, looks like a bracing one; it could be as ferocious as the opening of the Arctic Monkeys' second album with "Brianstorm."

In their first five matches the Red Devils will face Swansea away, then Chelsea at home, then Liverpool away, Crystal Palace at home and Manchester City away. Although this lineup might fill some United fans with trepidation, it would be important for them to remember that their team's strength traditionally lies in their form from Christmas onward.

If Manchester United are able to negotiate these tough opening rounds -- bearing in mind, for example, that they beat Liverpool and Manchester City away last season -- then this will stand them in excellent stead for the rest of the year.

Moreover, Jose Mourinho's second league title with Chelsea was built upon a fine start to the season, and this early tie against his team offers Moyes an opportunity to pre-empt such momentum.

As a result of this rousing beginning, there are other parts of Manchester United's season where the fixture list looks all the more manageable. For example, December, although containing six games, does not feature matches against any of the other teams that finished in the top five of the Premier League last season.

More pertinently, their final 10 games also do not feature a match against a team in that same top five. Of the teams that have recently struggled for league survival in that period, only two -- Newcastle, on April 5, and Southampton, on the last day -- are to be played away from home.

This is not to say, of course, that Manchester United will not drop points at unexpected moments throughout the season. But it does suggest that this timetable is not as severe as it may first appear.

The key question may be whether Moyes can mimic Sir Alex Ferguson's habit of mounting an irresistible charge from January onward, a pattern that can by no means be assumed. On first sight of these early games, though, he will probably want to hit the training ground as soon as possible.

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