Manchester United hope for seventh win on the trot

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The Independent Football

Manchester United go for a magnificent seven wins on the trot tomorrow at Stoke with Gary Neville believing the August international was to blame for their early-season malaise.

United certainly began their quest for an unprecedented fourth successive Premier League title in sluggish fashion, scraping an opening-day win over newly-promoted Birmingham before going down to a shock defeat at Burnley.

Since then though, it has been victories all the way for Sir Alex Ferguson's men, starting with a five-goal hammering of Wigan and including successes against Arsenal, Tottenham and Manchester City.

In addition, the Red Devils recorded a precious away win over Besiktas at the start of their Champions League campaign, with Ferguson's youngsters continuing the run by dumping Wolves out of the Carling Cup on Wednesday despite being forced to play the final hour with only 10 men.

It is amazing how quickly fortunes have changed. But Neville thinks he has an answer.

"Momentum in football is very important," said the veteran defender.

"Maybe the reason we started the first week so sluggishly was because we weren't quite at the right fitness levels.

"A lot of the lads had not played a lot of games. Some lads went away for internationals, others stayed back and trained.

"But once some of them had two more internationals under their belt they came back in a lot better shape and since early September we have done pretty well.

"Everyone seems to be fit and we have players desperate to be involved."

Neville would count himself among that number after another solid performance against Wolves.

Michael Carrick, Michael Owen and Nani provided additional experience which ultimately proved invaluable following Fabio's unscheduled exit.

Yet the man who might have gained most was Tomasz Kuszczak.

The Poland international has lost his position as Edwin van der Sar's deputy to Ben Foster.

However, Ferguson still has plenty of faith in the former West Brom star and must have been impressed by his performance on his first appearance of the season.

Given Stoke are capable of exploiting any defensive frailty, Ferguson might be concerned at Foster's mental state as well as his form following that poor performance against Manchester City.

And that might provide Kuszczak with the chance to retain his place.