Manchester United’s title chances in 2013-14

The Premier League champions will look to defend their crown with new manager David Moyes at the helm – but how will they fare?

It is fair to say that Manchester United have had a frustrating transfer window so far, with the club struggling to add quality to their squad before the start of the new campaign. With Wayne Rooney’s future also up in the air as Chelsea lie in wait, the going has been tough for David Moyes to date.

United will still enter the season as the team to beat, but the chances are that the 11-point gap between first and second will be shortened significantly this term. With Chelsea and Manchester City strengthening, there are a number of areas that are critical if United are to retain their title.

United conceded 43 goals last season in the Premier League, and although it was not telling, Moyes will look to reduce the number of goals his side ship in 2013-14. Having Nemanja Vidic on the brink of a return to fitness will be a big boost for the club. The captain not only will shore up the rearguard, but he brings with him the authority and commanding presence to improve those around him.

With Rio Ferdinand getting older, the former Leeds man may well not play as many games this season, and the likes of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones should get more time on the pitch.

United’s transfer focus this summer has surrounded signing a creative central midfielder, which to date has proved fruitless. It is likely that the Old Trafford outfit will bring someone in before the window closes, but it won’t be their first choice after Cesc Fabregas’ decision to stay at Barcelona.

Regardless of whether United sign anyone or not, it is a big year for Tom Cleverley. He will look to stay injury free after a frustrating season just gone, and start to live up to his billing. Michael Carrick’s influence is there for all to see – the England international is a crucial player for the Red Devils.

Moyes will hope that the addition of Wilfried Zaha will motivate United’s other wingers to raise the bar. Last season Antonio Valencia, Nani and Ashley Young failed to deliver consistently, and it will be interesting to see who gets the nod to start by the Scottish boss.

In attack, much depends on Robin van Persie, but the Netherlands international needs the likes of Danny Welbeck to increase the number of goals he scores, after a lean campaign in 2012-13. Shinji Kagawa will look to build on a solid start to life in England – the Japan international has the potential to be a key player for the Reds this term if played through the middle.

United have a tough opening fixture list with trips to Swansea and Liverpool in their first three games, and a home clash with title rivals Chelsea. Moyes will hope to get through these games unbeaten, but it is something of a baptism of fire for the new man.

United are still the team to beat, and if they can sign a central midfielder of quality they have every chance of retaining their title.

image: © eirikref

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