Lawro: Signings give United edge in title race

Manchester United's summer transfer activity will give them an early advantage in the Premier League title race, according to pundit and former Liverpool defender Mark Lawrenson.

The Old Trafford side have moved swiftly in the summer market, signing Atletico Madrid goalkeeper David de Gea, Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones and Aston Villa star Ashley Young, with their total outlay believed to be in the region of £48 million.

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And Lawrenson has exclusively told that having their new signings bedded in long before the start of the new season will enable the Premier League champions to make a stronger start to the coming campaign.

“Sir Alex has made his signings early, so they’ve been able to integrate into the squad and adapt to the coaching methods and the atmosphere," Lawrenson explained. "They’ve played in the pre-season matches, all those kind of things.

“He’s struck early and he’s probably thinking they'll really have to start quickly.

"He’s probably thinking Arsenal and Manchester City will still be looking for players, while Liverpool are still in a bit in transition and Chelsea have a new manager, so if they can start really well – and United play a lot of the top teams in their early fixtures – they might steal a few points over the rest very early."

United will be looking to clinch a record 20th league title in 2011/12, but will know they cannot afford to struggle as badly away from home as they did last term.

Sir Alex Ferguson's team picked up just 25 points on the road last season - fewer than any of the other sides to finish the season in the top five.

And Lawrenson has identified England international Young as the man to help improve the Red Devils' fortunes on their travels.

“I think they’ve looked at Ashley Young and seen a player who can play left-hand side, right-hand side, through the middle, or even up there on his own - and very much a counter-attacking player, which they've missed away from home."

Yet despite his praise for Ferguson's transfer activity , Lawrenson believes the Scot still needs to fill the void left by the recently retired Paul Scholes, and has cited Germany international Bastian Schweinsteiger as the man for the job.

The Bayern Munich star has been linked with a move to Old Trafford on several occasions in recent years, with rumours re-surfacing as recently as Tuesday, when Bayern manager Jupp Heynckes was forced to categorically state the 26-year-old was not for sale.

But the Liverpool old-boy believes United should test the waters with a bid for the midfielder, should their widely-reported chase for Inter's Wesley Sneijder fail to bear fruit.

“I can’t work out why none of the top four teams have gone for Bastian Schweinsteiger," the BBC pundit said. "I know he’s at Munich and I know he gets really good money, but you might just be able to entice him, it might just be time for him to leave.

“I just think he's a top, top player. I mean, he played against England at the World Cup in his slippers, he was that good.

“If I were Man United, if the Sneijder thing was just not do-able, I’d just ask Schweinsteiger to come and play at Old Trafford. He might just think I want to play in the Premier League."

Pundit Mark Lawrenson was talking about the forthcoming season at t