Belfast Telegraph

Evans: United must stay at the top

Jonny Evans does not see the point in worrying about the lack of transfer activity at Manchester United this summer because he knows the Red Devils will be expected to compete for all the major prizes anyway.

After the first friendly, the first tour and the first match at Old Trafford, new boss David Moyes takes charge of his first showpiece occasion on Sunday when United take on FA Cup winners Wigan in the Community Shield at Wembley.

Surprisingly, they will do so having made just a single addition to the squad which secured a record 20th title last term, and Uruguay Under-20 international defender Guillermo Varela is hardly the big name most Red Devils fans expected.

Much energy and debate was expended in the doomed pursuit of Cesc Fabregas of course, while interest in another Barcelona midfielder, Thiago Alcantara, petered out as he opted to join Bayern Munich.

It has now been suggested Moyes will attempt to lure Luka Modric away from Real Madrid, while also stepping up efforts to sign Marouane Fellaini from Everton.

Yet it is hardly the ideal situation given major title rivals Manchester City and Chelsea have both strengthened and, in the latter case, also want to take Wayne Rooney away from Old Trafford.

Evans though, remains unperturbed.

"I am not one for bothering about other teams," the Northern Ireland international told MUTV.

"You go out on a weekend and just try to beat the team that is in front of you.

"I am not saying I don't see the headlines but I don't worry about them too much, or worry about us not signing players or that other clubs are signing them.

"That is always the challenge at Manchester United. You have to be at the top, no matter what team is put in front of you."

Results have not been the best either.

Friday night's 3-1 defeat to Sevilla means United have won just twice in seven matches ahead of the Wigan encounter, when they will surely need to find some kind of form given preparations for next Saturday's opener away to Swansea will be shortened considerably by the midweek international programme.

Swansea are also further ahead in their fitness work due to participation in the Europa League qualifiers.

Yet Evans feels progress has been made at United, with a particular step forward being taken on the pre-season tour, particularly in Japan, where matches against J League duo Yokohama F Marinos and Cezero Osaka turned out to be genuine tests in searing temperatures.

"We have had quite tough games," said Evans.

"We did quite a lot of work fitness-wise and going into that first match in Thailand, so we were a bit tired and jet-lagged and it took us a while to get settled.

"Coming back from Sydney we had two very tough games against Japanese opposition who were really fit.

"They were excellent games for us because that was the level we had to get up to in terms of sharpness.

"Given their level of fitness and the way they run and turn, you are not going to get much harder than that."

Of the players who missed Friday night's game, Robin van Persie, Nemanja Vidic, Patrice Evra and Rafael all did strenuous pre-match workouts with fitness expert Tony Strudwick and look certain to start on Sunday.

Evans is among a group who will have their fitness checked before they can be certain of involvement given he aggravated an ankle injury during Tuesday's draw against AIK Solna.

"I missed a bit more game time than I would have liked with my injury," Evans said.

"I did feel a bit rusty in the games I played in pre-season but that is why you play them, to see where you are at. Hopefully you can push on."

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