It's tough, but United eyeing a flying start
CHRIS Smalling is targeting a flying start to Manchester United's season — starting with three points at the Liberty Stadium.
And the defender believes United's tough start to the Premier League campaign could ultimately work to their advantage.
United's opening five games send them to Swansea this evening before matches against Chelsea, Liverpool, Crystal Palace and Manchester City.
"We've got some big fixtures at the start of the season but if we can put on some really good performances and pick up a few points it's going to give us a big boost and set us apart from our rivals," said Smalling.
"In one sense it is good to get them out of the way.
"The Swansea game has been in our minds for a while," Smalling told manutd.com
"Going into the season as champions brings an expectation. We're seen as the best but we know we need to show it, but we're firing and ready to go. We can't wait for that first whistle."
United have been given two tough examinations at the Liberty since Swansea City returned to the top flight in 2011.
But new boss David Moyes (left) has a good record at the ground, with former club Everton, scoring five times and keeping clean sheets on their visits in the last two seasons.
Smalling has a battle just trying to get into Moyes's starting line-up.
He is facing competition from skipper Nemanja Vidic and long-time central defensive partner Rio Ferdinand, and if they do not get in then Moyes also has Jonny Evans to fall back on.
Rafael's absence with a hamstring injury means the right-back spot is available, which both Smalling and Phil Jones could fill.
But Londoner Smalling accepts the challenge for starting berths is intense.
"It does make it tough," he said. "When I first joined there were a lot of centre- backs and it was the same last season. It makes it really competitive because everyone is looking for one of those two spots."