Louis van Gaal the new Manchester United manager, enjoying his second day in charge of the club, should take some time to reflect on how the scheduling of their fixtures, and lack of European football, could work in United's favour.
Many have observed the relative ease of Manchester United's first six fixtures, but look further ahead to the peak period of the Champions League in October and November, and there is more good news.
In the four weeks between the end of October and November, United play Chelsea at home and Manchester City and Arsenal away. This will be the best time to play these clubs as they will be into the log-jam of fixtures caused by the Champions League and Capital One Cup.
Manchester United, on the other hand, will be able focus on the weekends and Premier League games, where they will be fresh and, injuries willing, at full strength.
There is more good news in March and April when the big European competitions resume, as they are due to play Liverpool, Chelsea and Manchester City at that critical part of the season.
The performance of Liverpool last season showed how significant this can be for a side chasing domestic honours.
Liverpool possessed a limited squad, but a very good first-choice midfield and attack. This was also helped by a relatively injury free season for Steven Gerrard and, of course, the brilliant performances of Luis Suarez and Daniel Sturridge. United, even now, have a stronger squad in depth and, with four or five top-class signings, will be able to put out a formidable first eleven.
The lack of European fixtures will also enable Van Gaal to trim his squad for the new season and move on some of last season's underachievers. The revenues raised in terms of transfers and wages will help to fund big-name signings.
This will mean the squad can be reconfigured in stages, in a way that would not have been possible if United needed to navigate a congested fixture list. It will also enable Van Gaal to play a relatively settled eleven in the Premier League, a luxury David Moyes rarely had last season.
Napoleon saw luck as the most important quality in his generals. It is possible that in the scheduling of the fixture list and the absence of European football, Van Gaal has been handed a big dose of luck without his side kicking a ball.
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