New manager David Moyes has criticised the series of fixtures Manchester United have been handed at the start of the season, hinting it is a deliberate ploy by the Premier League to give them a tough opening.
The champions travel to Swansea City on Saturday for their first match of the new campaign but among their next four games the champions host Chelsea and travel to Manchester City and Liverpool.
"I think it's the hardest start for 20 years that Manchester United have had," said Moyes who took over in the close season following Alex Ferguson's retirement.
"I hope it's not because Manchester United won the league quite comfortably last year that the fixtures have been made much more difficult," Moyes told the BBC on Thursday.
"I find it hard to believe that's the way the balls came out of the bag, that's for sure."
Moyes added that no decision had been made on whether unsettled striker Wayne Rooney, who has missed most of pre-season but played over an hour for England in their 3-2 win over Scotland in a friendly on Wednesday, would take part in Saturday's match.
Both sides have had competitive action in recent weeks. United beat Wigan Athletic 2-0 in the Community Shield on Sunday while Swansea defeated Swedish club Malmo in a two-legged Europa League qualifier.
Tottenham Hotspur winger Gareth Bale, who is wanted by Real Madrid, will not play at promoted Crystal Palace on Sunday after suffering a series of niggling injuries that have prevented him taking a full part in pre-season.