Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand is in bullish mood ahead of the start of the 2013/14 campaign, and has called on his team-mates to hit the ground running as they begin the defence of their Premier League title in a little over two weeks time.

After touching down in Manchester last night, bringing an end to the club's pre-season tour of Australia and Asia, the 34-year-old spoke positively about the squad's preparations, and paid tribute to the overwhelming support received from fans.

"Yes! Finally home. Can't believe it. It feels like I've been away for six months," Ferdinand told Bubbly. "It's been a great tour, I've really enjoyed it. 

"Seeing the fans from all over the world. All over Asia, [and] Australia is great. It was great to meet you guys, and hopefully we'll be coming back soon.

"Now we're getting down to the nitty gritty. Couple of days off, and then bang - back into it, to get ourselves right and ready and tuned in for the start of the season."

The Premier League champions will start this season under a new manager for the first time in more than 25 years, following the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson and appointment of former Everton boss David Moyes.

And Ferdinand - who has been at the club for 11 years, making 432 appearances and winning the title six times - is already looking ahead to the difficult season-opener, which sees Manchester United travel to the Liberty Stadium to face Swansea City.

"Big games coming up. Swansea will be a tough first game away, so we've got to hit the ground running," he added. "Then we've got five other games against big competition and we've got to be ready.

"We're looking forward to it, and we'll be looking to do you guys proud so keep supporting us and watching us wherever you are in the world and thanks again for your support."

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