Manchester United defender Chris Smalling is confident that the side can start the Premier League campaign positively despite having a tricky opening five matches.
David Moyes’ men have to travel to Capital One Cup winners Swansea City for their first competitive league game under their new manager, which is then followed up with games against Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City. The other fixture is against newly-promoted Crystal Palace.
The ex-Everton boss has already spoken out about the opening fixtures and has even revealed that he believes the fixtures are fixed because he doesn’t think you could randomly get drawn against three of the top seven in the first few weeks.
However, centre-back Chris Smalling believes the tough fixtures could play into their hands, especially if they get positive results.
“We’ve got some big fixtures at the start of the season but if we can put on some really good performances and pick up a few points it’s going to give us a big boost and set us apart from our rivals.
“In one sense, it is good to get them out of the way.
“The Swansea game has been in our minds for a while. Going into the season as champions brings an expectation.
“We’re seen as the best but we know we need to show it but we’re firing and ready to go. We can’t wait for that first whistle.”
Despite being ready for the season, Smalling admits that it’s going to be tough for him to get a first-team spot.
“It does make it tough,” he added. “When I first joined, there were a lot of centre-backs and it was the same last season.
“It makes it really competitive because everyone is looking for one of those two spots. It keeps us on our toes that’s for sure.
“I just want to stay injury free. Being out was so frustrating. I don’t think I played after Easter because of my foot.
“It makes such a difference when you get a proper pre-season under your belt. Without it, you are catching up a little bit. I feel good at the moment. I’m not far off (being 100% match fit) now. I feel confident and it is just about getting that sharpness back.”
Written by Alex Batt – @AlexBatt