All set by spring 

"The inevitable tough spell, on paper, appears to be around mid-March to April with a run of fixtures against Tottenham, Liverpool, Aston Villa, City, Chelsea and Everton but the hope is, by then, van Gaal will have had time to work his magic and perfect his tactical masterplan."

- Adam Marshall,

18/06/2014 09:00, Report by Adam Marshall
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Blog: Deja vu for United

There is a sense of deja vu regarding some of the 2014/2015 fixtures, and the start of Louis van Gaal's reign at Manchester United feels a little closer this morning.

While we are all absorbed by the events at the World Cup in Brazil, the anticipation for the Dutchman to start his next job intensified following the release of the initial schedule (obviously subject to change due to television coverage).

David Moyes started the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era in the Barclays Premier League with a match against Swansea City and van Gaal will do the same, albeit at Old Trafford rather than the Liberty Stadium. A repeat of the 4-1 scoreline would be very welcome, but the Swans would knock United out of the FA Cup with a first-ever win at the Theatre of Dreams in January and that stung.

The second assignment is a visit to Sunderland, a familiar foe after four clashes last term. The record books will show two wins apiece but the Capital One Cup semi-final second leg obviously ended in elimination following a penalty shoot-out to forget. One side-note is Jozy Altidore, the Black Cats striker, played under van Gaal at AZ Alkmaar.  

After the second round of this year's Capital One Cup, the journey to Burnley evokes memories of the defeat at Turf Moor, at a similarly early stage of the season, the last time the Clarets were promoted in 2009. Robbie Blake hit a spectacular winner and Michael Carrick missed a penalty so the Reds will be wary of the East Lancashire outfit causing another shock.

The first encounter with one of last term's top four is not until 25 October when Jose Mourinho comes to Manchester to pit his wits against the coach he worked under at Barcelona. A short drive across the city to face the champions at Etihad Stadium follows at the start of November. A Boxing Day meeting with Newcastle will hopefully be as exciting as the recent 4-3 festive win at Old Trafford when Javier Hernandez netted a dramatic late winner.

The inevitable tough spell, on paper, appears to be around mid-March to April with a run of fixtures against Tottenham,

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