Jun 22

Difficult Opening Stretch Highlights United’s 2011/12 Premier League Slate

The Premier League season came to a conclusion only a month ago today, but in case you were already going through severe withdrawals, you can already officially start to look ahead to next season.

We still don’t know fully what new summer transfers will be taking the pitch for United when the new campaign kicks off in August, but what we do know for certain is who we’ll be facing, as the complete 2011/12 Premier League season fixtures list was released bright and early last Friday.

We’ll be starting our quest for a 20th title at West Brom on August 13, and given how the two meetings this past season went, this could be one of the trickiest season openers United have had in recent seasons.

Speaking of openings, the fixture gods certainly aren’t sparing United for the first couple of months of the season. Following the visit to the Hawthorns, United will face Tottenham and Arsenal at Old Trafford prior to the international break, and after returning to action with a trip to Bolton, we’ll be hosting Chelsea and their new ‘Special One’. Then, after the international break in October, we have trips to Merseyside with a home Manchester derby sandwiched in between. So, the only potential breather in the first 10 league matches of the season comes at home against Norwich City on October 1.

There may be some conspiracy theorists out there who might think that there’s some agenda behind the tough scheduling, but I happen to like it the schedule as it is, from top to bottom. Sure, we do have a penchant for starting slow, and that can be a concern when multiple new faces will still be getting acclimated into the side. However, if ever there’s a good way for a new-look team to gel, this is it. By the end of that stretch, we’ll know what this team is made of; we’ll know if not only is there a step up in quality and performance, but if the new faces have that United mentality and if the side still has that same steely resilience that was a mark of this past season’s team.

If we can make it through the first couple of months with our heads well above water, the next few months are far more favorable. That might well be the true test, because it could be easy to have a dropoff in performances against the lesser sides after having so many tough games early on. That’s a test that I think we’ll pass, because this isn’t Fergie’s first or twenty-first rodeo, but it’s something that must be said nonetheless.

Then, after facing Arsenal, Chelsea, Liverpool, and Tottenham over a span of several weeks from late January to early March, the home stretch is also very favorable, with a trip to Eastlands at the end of April representing the toughest match in an otherwise very navigable run. If we’re locked in a tight title race, having a favorable slate only helps our cause. Not to disparage any of the other top teams, but my expectation at this point is that if United are battling anyone out for the title down the stretch, it’ll be Chelsea again, and their stretch run is a mite tougher than ours, so that’s a paper feather in our cap.

If the title happens to come down to the final day of the season, which it more often does not, it’d be ideal to have the season finale at home, but that’s not the case, as we’ll be visiting Steve Bruce (presuming he’s still in charge) and Sunderland. By contrast, Chelsea are home to Blackburn, City are at home to Q.P.R., and Liverpool are away to Swansea, though Arsenal have a tricky one away to West Brom, who took four of six points against them last season.

Of course, we can’t get too far ahead of ourselves right now, since there’s two months of summer transfer madness to wade through, and the season is always full of surprises (but hopefully no weather-related ones this time), but the way the schedule shapes up, we’ll have every opportunity to nail down #20, if we want to take it.

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  • Johnsom really? For me we are weaker at best no stronger. De Gea maybe a future great keeper but currently he is a gamble and no better than VDS, who was arguably the best keeper in the World. Jones again is a good prospect but probably won’t get much first team football, Young is a decent signing but is he better than what we already have?
    We have lost Scholes who at times ran games, VDS as I said last season was fantastic.
    For us to be better than last season our achilles heal was the midfield, Fletch, Anderson, Giggs and Carrick are hardly World class. We need to bring in a top CM and that is a priority. This is the only area we should have been concentrating on this Summer as everywhere else bar the keeper we were fine.

  • Yeah, remember that I’m a Anderson believr. I think ando will-flourish when fergie has no option but to play him for extended games. I also think young is a major addition. I’ve been a big fan of his for a long time and I can’t for the life o me figure out why English fans ate so skeptical about him. He is going to be fantastic for us mark my words. And on top of that our squad was already good, I don’t prescribe to the nonsense that our team is rubbish.

  • Moscow is my heaven

    Johnsom

    Gambling a whole season on a midfielder who has scored 5 goals in his 4 year United career is a risk which a club like ours should not have to take. With lack of competition from retired Scholesy, I expect him to fail miserably next season. I do not like him running about like a headless chicken with his puffy cheeks, I don’t like his rushed and inaccurate passing, and I also cannot comprehend the shitness of his shooting if one also considers him to be an attack minded midfielder.

    I expect Giggs to pick up the pieces for him again in midfield. How embarassing to be outclassed and outperformed by a 37 year old winger in a role where there is little competition.

  • That’s just where you and I disagree. Is passing isn’t inaccurate and he finally added goalsto his game this season which was supposed to be the big knock against him. When played last season in a midfield tandem with Carrick he flourished. When asked to play as a DM or as part of a 3 man midfield he struggled. I know you hate our current midfield, so o understand your hesitation to stand pat. I want us to strengthen as well, but if our big 3 targets are out of reach then o think we can get by with what we already have.

  • This site is in serious need of maintenance!!
    I now can’t reply to anyone, and that is in addition to the fact that I can’t get access emoticons or the full editing functions.
    Eddie, do you want to sell the site? You seem unable to make it vital!!

    You have my Email, contact me if you’re interested.

  • RedRich:

    The site is currently getting a makeover. The emoticons will be reinstalled if possible. There’s a few changes planned so please bear with us for a little while longer. There will be new writers, new areas and a general updating of the site.

    Thanks for your patience, and everyone else.

    Ian

  • Anderson is not the answer. He has had four years at the club and despite our acknowledged central midfield weakness he still hasn’t broken into the first team. And personally I’ve seen little improvement in the standard of his game despite the benefits he should have received from training at a top club. Really he has been a huge disappointment.

    Stephen, we do have deadwood to sell so I hope we can scrape enough together for a central midfielder. If need be I would even sacrifice Berbatov because of the 15 million his sale would raise. But hopefully it won’t come down to that. Anderson I’d sell for 10 million in a heartbeat.

    For me the transfer window will be an abject failure unless we sign a quality central midfielder who can compensate for the departure of Scholes and keep Anderson and Fletcher on the bench where they belong

  • Check these out RedRich :roll: :lol: :-P :-o 8) :-D :)

    Crack on :-x

  • @ colver
    spot on about anderson. He has been four years at this club, he has shown occasional glimpses of his talent. still a lot of people have faith in him and are willing to give one more season and i agree with a lot of them. but the main thing that worries me about him is his physical attributes. he has been the fattest player :) in the team or even the league in the last four years.
    as fergie has young, nani and valencia it is almost certain that two of the three will start every game. i dont see any reason why fergie would break rooney chicharito partnership. So if anderson needs one of the slots in the midfield he has to improve his work rate a lot. knowing fergie he might prefer park to anderson for the midfield role :)

  • @rimmerstweets
    what about the reply option, it was working fine until today.

  • Like this you mean? :-P

  • Good changes but I find the comments thread not so readable.

  • You can’t please all the people all the time. :roll:

    The changes are good for interaction so hopefully you’ll get used to the aesthetics. If it’s unpopular though…..we’ll find another way :)

  • Despite the changes there’s one thing I really can’t suss out. How do I add an avatar image to my profile????? lol Seriously, I can’t work out how, any idea?

    :oops: :?:

  • Go to gravatar.com

    Register with the email you use to post here.

    Choose an avtar on gravatar.com only.

    All done. It will magically appear here. Might take some time though.

  • Thanks, I’ll give it a go.

  • Done, let’s see if it’s worked >>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>>

  • We can see your avatar now :-P

  • How do you register? What log in? Jesus!!

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