- Premier League
Ferdinand bemoans 'toughest ever' start
Rio Ferdinand has declared Manchester United have been given the hardest start to a Premier League season he has ever seen at the beginning of David Moyes' reign.
United kick off the defence of their title away at Capital One Cup winners Swansea before hosting Jose Mourinho's Chelsea for Moyes' first match at Old Trafford.
Then follow trips to major rivals Liverpool and Manchester City, separated only by a seemingly easier home game against newly-promoted Crystal Palace.
"There's no easing our way into the league this year.," Ferdinand said on United's pre-season tour of Australia. "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 fellow defenders Nemanja Vidic and Chris Smalling absent from United's pre-season tour, Ferdinand has the chance to stake a claim for a place and he believes Moyes' appointment will have the United squad ready for competitive football as they battle for places in the team.
"With a new manager coming in, we're going to be focused anyway, with people looking to prove themselves and places up for grabs," Ferdinand added. "There's an excitement in the squad and that will build as the start of the season gets closer."