David Moyes faces early test against Chelsea, says Graeme Souness
It's crucial David Moyes wins his first home game against Chelsea, says Graeme Souness.
Last Updated: 20/06/13 6:39am
The former Everton boss switched Goodison Park for Old Trafford this summer following Sir Alex Ferguson's retirement and will be aiming to defend United's Premier League crown and, at the same time, win his first piece of silverware as a manger since leaving Preston North End in 2002.
However, with Jose Mourinho returning to Chelsea, Manuel Pellegrini arriving at Manchester City and North London rivals Arsenal and Tottenham plotting summer signings, the race for the championship is set to be a hotly contested affair.
And Souness says Moyes must lay down a marker when the Blues visit Manchester on August 24.
"As a manager, when you get the fixtures, you want to win your first game and get off to a good start. But the second game they play, Chelsea at home, that's the one he knows he must win," former Liverpool boss Souness told Sky Sports News.
"If Moyes can put a marker down early against what will be one of his biggest rivals for the Premier League then he will have made a statement. But that will be a very hard game because Chelsea will be particularly strong next year."
Souness believes any manager given the task of succeeding Ferguson, who won 38 trophies during his remarkable 27 year tenure at United, would have been under pressure but reckons, given the current condition of the club, everything is in place for Moyes to enjoy a successful transition in his first season at the helm.
"For David Moyes the pressure is on even before they kick a ball - but whoever was going to follow Fergie was going to be under enormous pressure," says Souness.
"In many respects, though, it will be a hard job to fail in. Fergie had his fingers in every department of that football club and made sure everything was run properly. Everything's right about Man United at the moment.
"I expect Moyes to strengthen the squad next season but he's inherited a very good group and one that's the right age as well. Yes, there'll be changes he wants to make - changes to training and daft things like what hotels he wants to stay in - but fundamentally he has a very strong group of players and the club has been run properly in recent history."
However, Souness says, unlike the 2012/13 season, when Ferguson's United cruised to the title, if Moyes is to retain the Premier League trophy he will have to fight off fierce competition from a number of quarters.
The former Liverpool ace lists Chelsea, Manchester City and Arsenal - depending on their activity in the transfer window - as genuine challengers for the crown.
"There is so much goodwill with Jose Mourinho going back to Chelsea and they have got some great players, won a trophy last year [the Europa League] and finished the season strongly after a fair bit of upheaval when Rafa Benitez went in as manager," he said.
"Jose has taken over at a good time, they have a strong group of players, the manager knows about English football and I'd make them one of the favourites.
"Manuel Pellegrini at Man City is finding out about English football and he will have to learn quickly. It's important he has someone with him who knows all about the English game but they also have really good players and I'm sure they'll add to their squad, too.
"And I think you have to add Arsenal into that group as well. They finished the season strongly; the result at Bayern Munich in the second leg of their Champions League tie kicked them on and I'd expect them to strengthen.
"However, it depends which players they go out and buy; if [they sign] not top players for not big money but just good players hoping to become great it may be more of the same for Arsenal. But if they were to go out and spend big they could be challengers this year."
Check out the video above to see Graeme Souness have his say on the promoted teams, Liverpool's aspirations and Gareth Bale's future.