United begin the defence of the title with a visit to Swansea City's Liberty Stadium, scene of a 1-1 draw last year, on Saturday 17 August.
Ferdinand told ManUtd.com: "It focuses us, definitely. There's no easing our way into the league this year. We've got to be ready to go from the off.
"We've got some big games in there but Swansea away is a really tough place to start. We've got to make sure we're ready for the start of the season because our first five games are probably the toughest that I've ever seen.
"With a new manager coming in, we're going to be focused anyway, with people looking to prove themselves and places up for grabs. There's an excitement in the squad and that will build as the start of the season gets closer."