Manchester United defender Jonny Evans is relishing the prospect of additional competition for a first-team spot.The arrival of Phil Jones from Blackburn and last season’s form of Chris Smalling means the 23-year-old Northern Ireland international faces increased pressure to prove he can replace Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
However, Evans is not fazed by the challenge.
“I have always thought that being at a club like Manchester United, if you can’t accept a challenge of someone wanting your spot, you don’t deserve to be here,” Evans told the Manchester Evening News ahead of United’s US tour opener against the New England Revolution in Boston.
“That is what Manchester United is all about. You are constantly being tested.”
“It is down to you, whether you are good enough, or whether you are putting the effort in to play for the first team.”
Evans was speaking at a Special Olympics event in Boston, the first in a series of initiatives during the course of United’s three-week tour aimed at offering sporting activities to those suffering from learning disabilities.
But his thoughts never strayed too far from the new season, and the opportunity to wipe out memories of the 3-1 Champions League final defeat to Barcelona.
“That defeat will stick in the lads’ heads,” Evans said.
“These lads have been so successful throughout their careers but they still remember defeats.”
“I am sure they will have that at the back of their minds coming into the new season.”
“Barcelona have set the standard. They have gone to another level.”
“Maybe 10 years ago, when Manchester United went into Europe, there was a gap to bridge and we managed to do it.”
“The challenge is there for us again. Hopefully we can get closer to them.”
Defensive team-mate Ferdinand has, meanwhile, hailed Sir Alex Ferguson’s dip into the transfer market.
Jones, England forward Ashley Young and Spain Under-21 keeper David de Gea have all completed their moves to Old Trafford.
“It is just what the club needs,” Ferdinand said.
“Three of our most experienced players have retired, so the manager has reinforced certain positions on the field.”
“This club is always evolving. That is what has happened since I have been here. I was part of it.”
“That is what you aim to do. It is not about your personal feelings.”
“It is about the club becoming better and more stable and continuing the success we have had over the years.”
“We have some very young players coming through the youth team already, so when the manager adds players of quality like Phil Jones, Ashley Young and David de Gea, it can only improve the squad, increase our longevity and continue our success.”