The Reds lost the first away match of the season in the Barclays Premier League and the most recent one, the 1-0 reverse at Carrow Road, and even though each road trip in between yielded three points, only the victory at Newcastle was anything like comprehensive. United had to come from behind at Southampton, Liverpool and Aston Villa and were, as expected, pushed all the way by Chelsea at the end of October.
“I think away games are getting more difficult in the Premier League,” said Sir Alex on Friday morning. “Our game at Norwich is a good example of that. Norwich fought like tigers. They were really organised and motivated and made it a difficult day for us and I think we can expect the same at Reading.”
This Saturday’s hosts are in the relegation zone, only four points above last Saturday’s rock-bottom opponents QPR. But Sir Alex has seen enough in the Berkshire club to make him caution his men against complacency.
“When Brian McDermott became manager at Reading, it took him a little bit of time to get his ideas across but look at the second half of last season in the Championship – they came from nowhere to win the league. They’re definitely a club that are improving and although they’ve not had a lot of wins, they’re always hard games against them. I expect what we got at Norwich – a really difficult game.”
Whatever happens at Reading and elsewhere this weekend, the boss isn’t yet buying into the notion that only United or local rivals Manchester City can win the title in 2013.