Sir Alex Ferguson is hoping his players can learn from November’s trip to Norwich City as Manchester United look to open December with a win at Reading.
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.
“I don’t think you could be certain of saying it’s going to be a two-horse race at this stage," mused Sir Alex. "Over the years we’ve said that the top five or six are all capable of winning the league but eventually it ends up a two-horse race. Year after year it’s been like that – there was again space between the top two teams [United and City] and the others last year. The important thing to do is just look at yourselves – we want to be up there all the time and we need to stay up