Manchester United's Patrice Evra has said that his team-mates have stopped talking about Manchester City – a habit he believes damaged the club's psychological focus and contributed to the sacrifice of the Premier League title last season.
After Sunday's 2-1 win over Liverpool at Old Trafford kept United seven points clear at the top of the table, Evra said the renewed accent on their own performances made a repeat of the 1999 Treble achievable.
"I think we had a lot of respect for City and just didn't focus on our job [last season]. We are Manchester United, you know, and it's not normal when you are focused on another team," he said. "It's not arrogant saying that. It's because I've played for Manchester United for seven years now and it's always been like this but I think last year we were the team looking at another team and that is no good – this is not Manchester United.
"I remember last year some players and a lot of people at the club were talking about who City are going to play in the next game; who are City going to do this or that against. A lot of players, of course, yes – I'm honest about that. But this year we are just focusing on ourselves because we know if we play well, we are Manchester United and we have to show that every time in every game."
Evra was wary of pronouncements about a Treble, even while aspiring to take the Champions League, Premier League and FA Cup. "Yeah, everything is possible. But I don't want to start to talk about targets."
Sir Alex Ferguson has spoken of this United squad being one of his best, though Evra drew short of making comparisons with the 2008 side that won the Champions League after defeating Chelsea in the final.
"I think in 2008 that team was unbelievable," he said. "When I went back to France and people were asking what has happened to your team – you're running everywhere, you're scoring a lot of goals, you have players like [Carlos] Tevez and [Cristiano] Ronaldo. It was a strong team so it's difficult to compare. But if we win the Champions League and League we can compare the teams but in the end we have to win something."
The resolution of Wilfried Zaha's future may be concluded within the next few days, with United and Arsenal in contention for the Crystal Palace winger and terms agreed between the player's representatives and one of those clubs, possibly United. Sources suggested yesterday that Zaha has no preference and it may come down to which deal is the best.
- More about:
- Chris Smalling
- Manchester United
- Nemanja Vidic
- Premier League
- Robin Van Persie
- Sir Alex Ferguson