We're looking after No 1! Vidic insists United are strong enough to see off rivals
The threat from Manchester City and gulf in class with Barcelona would appear to be growing, but Nemanja Vidic has warned that Manchester United will not allow themselves to become obsessed with their rivals as they look to challenge at home and abroad again this season.
City look increasingly likely to beat their neighbours to the signing of Arsenal’s Samir Nasri as part of a recruitment drive that could well eclipse United’s £50million outlay this summer, while that painful Champions League Final defeat to Barca seven weeks ago is still fresh in the memory for Sir Alex Ferguson and his players almost 5,000 miles away on the north-west coast of the United States.
There are also concerns that a summer of change at Old Trafford could leave the Barclays Premier League champions weaker in the short-term, but Vidic is confident that United will once again find the strength from within to succeed.
Captain fantastic: Nemanja Vidic leads Manchester United out for their match against New England Revolution
The United captain said: ‘I see headlines that a player has signed for City, then a second, then a third. It is clear they have the money and they will sign new players. But we have to focus on ourselves. We have to think about what happens behind our doors not our neighbours.
‘They will definitely be in position to fight for the league but I think we have enough good players and a good team to challenge for the trophy.’
United face Barcelona again in the last game of their US tour in Washington DC later this month. Asked about the gap between the two clubs that was highlighted by a second Champions League Final defeat in three years, Vidic added: ‘I have to say, I don’t think so much about the gap between ourselves and Barcelona. I am thinking I have to win the Premier League and the Champions League.
‘Who knows whether Barcelona will go to the final? We can speak like they are already in the final and they will win the Champions League. It’s a new season. We are looking to win the Premier League. We are looking to win the Champions League. Who is going to be our opponents, we are not thinking about at this time. We are thinking about ourselves.
The team to beat: Barcelona celebrate beating United to win the Champions League at Wembley
‘We don’t have any problem with the Barcelona players. We respect them but we are not scared to play against them.
‘I agree Barcelona are playing great football. It is hard to take. They beat us in the final twice. It is always in your mind, but hopefully we can make it to a third one and that will be lucky for us. We have to forget what happened, take some points from that game and improve.
‘From the first day I came to this club, the players and the coaches push you forward to improve.
‘That is the great thing about this club. I think over the years we have improved every year. This is why we are in this position to win the title four times and play in the final three times.’
Rivals: Manchester City look set to be among the challengers for the Premier League title
United may have signed goalkeeper David De Gea, winger Ashley Young and centre-back Phil Jones this summer, but no area of the pitch emphasises the current gap between the English and Spanish champions quite like central midfield where United have lost Paul Scholes and Barca continue to draw on the genius of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.
United still hope that Inter Milan and Wesley Sneijder will compromise on their demands to enable the Dutchman to join them, and there could yet be a twist in the Nasri tale. But Vidic remains confident there is already enough talent at Old Trafford to compensate for Scholes’s retirement.
He said: ‘We have a lot of quality players who can play that role. We have Anderson, Fletcher, Giggs, Carrick. Tom Cleverley can play there.
‘If you look at what we did over the last years and how many trophies we have won, a lot of players have played in that position.
In: David De Gea
In: Phil Jones
In: Ashley Young
‘It is the gaffer’s judgement about who we need and what we need. I believe we have a good team.
‘The most important thing for a club like Manchester United is to have new players to bring new energy and hunger, to fight for positions. We have really healthy competition in the team.
‘I am looking forward to this season. We have a hunger. We have some new players, new blood. That always brings new energy, which is very important.’
Curiously for the captain of arguably the world’s biggest sports team, and an international with more than 50 caps for Serbia, this is Vidic’s first visit to the United States at the age of 29.
Repeat performance: Vidic is confident United can win the Premier League for a 20th time
He was speaking at a Nike store in downtown Seattle where United were joined at their team hotel by De Gea.
Vidic admitted that the Spain Under 21 goalkeeper is under ‘big pressure’ to follow in the footsteps of Edwin van der Sar, with communication at the back a particular concern due to De Gea’s lack of English.
‘It is important for the communication to be good,’ said Vidic. ‘And it is important when new players come to adapt, to feel the team, not just on the pitch but outside it.
‘He is young but he definitely has talent and he definitely has big ambitions. There will be big pressure on him obviously because Edwin left, but I’m very confident he will do well.’