Manchester United are 11/5 co-favourites with Manchester City and Chelsea to retain their Premier League title, but following Fergie’s departure and a disappointing pre-season on and off the pitch David Moyes’ new charges have something to prove.
United turned last season’s title race into a procession, winning with four games to spare by an eventual eleven points and with Wilfried Zaha coming in on the wing (where United have struggled of late) there is no reason to believe they won’t improve this term.
Manuel Pellegrini’s arrival at City and Jose Mourinho’ s Chelsea return means they will have to. City have spent £90 million on proven talent, and players like Vincent Kompany and Joe Hart will be desperate for more title success.
Chelsea’s squad is packed with guile and work ethic, and the return of the Special One will ensure the inconsistency of recent seasons is behind them.
As their rivals catch up, United have to spend well. Moyes failed to land top midfield target Thiago Alcantara, but even if Thiago’s former teammate Cesc Fabregas stays at Barcelona other options have been identified, including Real Madrid’s former Tottenham playmaker Luka Modric and Juventus’ Claudio Marchisio.
The midfield has been identified as an area of weakness while a new left back is also likely given Patrice Evra’s age, along with the perceived lack of faith in Fergie panic-buy Alexander Buttner.
Pre-season results have been unspectacular, but Moyes is experimenting with youth and both Jesse Lingard and Adnan Januzaj impressed on tour, as did Zaha.
Shinji Kagawa will be a force after a year adapting to the Premier League, and if United can avoid the injury problems that have plagued the backline in recent seasons then Moyes can hit the ground running despite a tricky opening featuring Chelsea, City and Liverpool in the first six games.