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Tuesday, August 14, 2012

United avoid Shield distraction

Manchester United fans should be rightly pleased that they took no part in the Community Shield last weekend, with Sir Alex Fergusson able to focus solely on the new season.

Although not participating in the Shield means United were unsuccessful in claiming either the FA Cup or Premier League title last term, their absence should prove productive in the opening stages of the new season.

For while Man City and Chelsea both proved their squads are somewhat under-strength, exposing weaknesses that can be capitalised upon by opponents early in the season, United remain an enigma going into a new campaign - something punters betting on the Champions League or Premier League have found frustrating.

However, for Sir Alex it is a blessing that he has had the opportunity to hold his cards close to his chest. The fitness of Jonny Evans and Nemanja Vidic won’t be strained for another week, and it gives new boys Nick Powell and Shinji Kagawa more time to settle down - see Eden Hazard’s performance on Sunday for an example of a player trying to do too much, too soon.

Last season United beat a City side buoyant off the back of their FA Cup win and hurting from seeing the Reds win a record 19th league title. City looked as much a mess as Chelsea did this time around, and were it not for a swerving Edin Dzeko shot that caught David de Gea off-guard on his debut United would have run out clear winners that day.

Granted, United used their Shield win as a springboard to five Premier League wins on the trot and 12 games without defeat, but this season is different in that Sir Alex has a settled squad focussed on the task in hand; Kagawa and Powell enter a team rather than a bunch of new faces.

The Premier League is our number one priority this season, and the sooner we get stuck into the action the better.

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