Published August 17, 2013
LONDON, England (AFP) – The opening day of the 2013-14 Premier League season dawned on Saturday with David Moyes admitting he is still adjusting to the novelty of being Manchester United's new manager.
Moyes takes United to Swansea City later on Saturday, where the champions will play a league game with a manager other than Alex Ferguson in the dug-out for the first time since November 1, 1986.
Ahead of the game, Moyes admitted he made sure he was alone when he slipped into his illustrious predecessor's seat at the club's Carrington training complex for the first time.
"Sitting in the chair for the first time felt odd," Moyes said.
"I did it myself with nobody looking. I thought I would have to see how it feels in case anybody thought I looked stupid.
"He will be a great mentor for me. I want him around. He is recovering from his hip operation, but I went to see him the other day and he was great."
The former Everton manager already has several thorny issues to address; chiefly the decision over whether to bring unsettled striker Wayne Rooney in from the cold.
Rooney missed United's entire pre-season programme with hamstring and shoulder problems, prompting media speculation that he had been frozen out by Moyes after the club rejected two offers for him from Chelsea.
The 27-year-old striker returned to action in England's 3-2 friendly win over Scotland on Wednesday, however, and he travelled to Swansea with the rest of the United squad on Friday.
New arrivals will be everywhere on the opening weekend of the new campaign, with United's two closest rivals from last season also under new management after Manchester City appointed Manuel Pellegrini and Jose Mourinho returned to Chelsea.
City, who have spent an estimated ??90 million ($139 million, 105 million euros) on new players, do not begin their season until Monday, when they host Newcastle United, with Chelsea in action a day earlier when promoted Hull City are the visitors to Stamford Bridge.
Mourinho has wasted no time in making his presence felt, having reacted tartly to Moyes' claims that United have been unfairly treated by the fixture computer due to their difficult run of opening games.
"If I say that, I'm in big trouble," said Mourinho, who led Chelsea to back-to-back league titles during his first spell at the club.
Arsenal, fourth last season, open their campaign at home to Aston Villa later on Saturday, and manager Arsene Wenger already has injury concerns.
Santi Cazorla is likely to be short of fitness after turning out for Spain against Ecuador in mid-week, while Mikel Arteta is sidelined with a thigh problem and Thomas Vermaelen has a stress fracture in his back.
Tottenham Hotspur, who narrowly lost out on a Champions League place last season, open their campaign with a trip from north to south London to take on promoted Crystal Palace on Sunday.
Like City, Spurs have also spent heavily in the close season, with Thursday's acquisition of France midfielder Etienne Capoue from Toulouse nudging their total outlay towards the ??60 million mark.
It is Gareth Bale's mooted move to Real Madrid that has most occupied manager Andre Villas-Boas' thoughts this summer, however, although the Welshman will be absent at Selhurst Park with a foot injury.
The new season kicks off at Anfield, where Liverpool come up against a Stoke City side with a new manager in Mark Hughes.
Controversial striker Luis Suarez is absent as he continues his 10-game ban for biting Chelsea's Branislav Ivanovic last season, but Liverpool manager Brendan Rodgers hopes to be able to call upon Daniel Sturridge after he overcame an ankle problem.
Former Wigan Athletic manager Roberto Martinez takes his new club Everton to Norwich City on Saturday, while Cardiff City, promoted as winners of the second-tier Championship, visit West Ham United for their first top-level match since 1962.
Paolo Di Canio's Sunderland, and their 10 new signings, begin the campaign at home to Fulham, while Southampton will have club-record ??12.5 million signing Victor Wanyama on board for their trip to West Bromwich Albion.
Opening Premier League fixtures
Saturday (1400GMT unless otherwise stated):
Liverpool v Stoke City (1145GMT), Arsenal v Aston Villa, Norwich City v Everton, Sunderland v Fulham, West Bromwich Albion v Southampton, West Ham United v Cardiff City, Swansea City v Manchester United (1630MT)
Crystal Palace v Tottenham Hotspur (1230GMT), Chelsea v Hull City (1500GMT)
Manchester City v Newcastle United