FOOTBALL NEWS

"There's no easing our way into the league this year. We've got to be ready to go from the off."

- Rio Ferdinand

17/07/2013 15:08, Report by A Marshall & P Davies

Rio: Toughest-ever start

Rio Ferdinand believes the fixtures computer has dealt Manchester United the toughest-ever start to a Barclays Premier League season.

The champions begin the defence of the title with a visit to Swansea City's Liberty Stadium, scene of a 1-1 draw last year, on Saturday 17 August.

Chelsea and Liverpool are next in line with the Manchester derby taking place on 22 September after new boys Crystal Palace have made the trip to Old Trafford.

When asked about the early fixtures, which follow his Testimonial against Sevilla on 9 August, Ferdinand told ManUtd.com: "It focuses us, definitely. There’s no easing our way into the league this year. We’ve got to be ready to go from the off. 

"We’ve got some big games in there but Swansea away is a really tough place to start. We’ve got to make sure we’re ready for the start of the season because our first five games are probably the toughest that I’ve ever seen. 

"With a new manager coming in, we’re going to be focused anyway, with people looking to prove themselves and places up for grabs. There’s an excitement in the squad and that will build as the start of the season gets closer."

More: Buy Testimonial tickets | Singha All Star XI match report 

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