Manchester United Can Close the Gap on Their City Rivals This Season

Stephen FennellCorrespondent IJune 18, 2012

AMSTERDAM, NETHERLANDS - FEBRUARY 15:  Sir Alex Ferguson (R) manager of Manchester United speaks to the media next to Wayne Rooney during a press conference on the eve of the Europa League match between Ajax and Manchester United at Amsterdam Arena on February 15, 2012 in Amsterdam, Netherlands.  (Photo by Jasper Juinen/Getty Images)
Jasper Juinen/Getty Images

The general footballing public are in the midst of a sporadically engrossing Euro 2012, so the release of the Premier League fixtures for the coming season is a welcoming distraction.

Manchester United open their campaign against a resurgent and battle-hardened Everton team at Goodison Park on August 18th. 

The last time these two teams came head-to-head was in an eight-goal thriller at Old Trafford, which ultimately resulted in the Premier League crown making its way across Manchester to the Etihad Stadium.

David Moyes was at the helm for Everton that day, but come August, there is a strong possibility he will be in the away dugout at St James' Park as manager of Tottenham Hotspur.

One thing that's for certain is that Sir Alex Ferguson will be at Goodison Park, hungry and re-invigorated from the summer break, ready to capture the Premier League title for a 13th time.

Last season Manchester City triumphed on goal difference on the final day, after a stuttering finish to an initially imperious title charge.

If City are to capture back-to-back titles, they are going to need more consistency and surprisingly, an addition or two to an already star-studded squad.

Manchester United on the other hand have already added what could be a decisive piece to their offensive lineup.

The signing of Shinji Kagawa will ease a reliance on Paul Scholes and add a creative spark that neither Michael Carrick, Anderson nor Ryan Giggs seemed capable of providing in 2011-12.

Defensively last year, United were uncharacteristically poor at times.

Under Ferguson, their success has been synonymous with a formidable back line, but the defensive line was hit hard by the absence of club captain Nemanja Vidic.

With his return, the maturity of Chris Smalling and the familiarity of Phil Jones in his second season, the United defence will have a far more dependable look about it.

Rafael has a tendency to lose concentration at crucial moments, and as a result, not a lot of Manchester United fans are fully sold on his worth to the club.

They will need to add a defender to replace the increasingly injury-prone Rio Ferdinand and Patrice Evra's consistency will begin to wane at some point.

With a new defender, the addition of Kagawa and the possibility of two or three more quality attacking option such as Lewandowski, Modrić or perhaps Sneijder, the future is looking good.

Ferguson has seen challenges before such as Blackburn, Arsenal, and Chelsea whom he successfully disposed of.

The big question now is if he can he close the gap on the richest club in the history of the Premier League?

The last 26 years would suggest there is no better man in football to do it.