ESPN FC: Mou wants Roo
Manchester United defender Jonny Evans insists he and his team-mates have taken Chelsea’s public pursuit of Wayne Rooney with a pinch of salt and warned Jose Mourinho that any attempts to unsettle the Premier League champions will fail.
Mourinho has repeatedly stated his desire to sign Rooney this summer, with ESPN sources stating that the Blues boss is the driving force behind the overtures despite some doubts behind the scenes at Stamford Bridge regarding the heavy cost of a potential deal.
United are still standing firm in their attempts to keep the England international, with the player’s camp not confident that a deal will be done in this summer’s transfer window.
The needle between the two clubs has also been ratcheted up in recent days ahead of their Premier League meeting at Old Trafford on Monday, with Mourinho claiming that neither United nor Manchester City have been “terrific” champions in the past two years.
But Evans claimed that the Red Devils pay no attention to psychological warfare and also said judgement should be reserved on Mourinho’s impact at Chelsea until later in the season.
“It’s all just mind games, really,” Evans told the Mirror. “It’s maybe his way of trying to unsettle us, but we don’t read too much into that kind of thing and, as players, we laugh at that kind of thing.
“Everyone’s been saying that he will make a big difference to Chelsea but we’ll have to wait and see if that will be the case.
“Mourinho’s a good manager and I am sure he’ll make a big impact on them. But it’s maybe going to be over the next month or two before we realise who’s going to be challenging for the league.
"Managers have a big influence and that’s why they are in such high demand. That’s why Mourinho is in high demand - because he’s been so successful. Obviously they have a big impact on the team with the way they set them up. I think a lot of the time it’s all about spurring the team and trusting the players.
“I think Mourinho had that spell at Chelsea where he gave them a lot of confidence and they were successful at that time. But it remains to be seen if he can have that impact again.”
Evans admitted he was impressed with what he saw of the Blues in their first game of the season but is confident that United have what it takes to see off their rivals.
“I thought Chelsea played well in their opening game,” Evans said. “It took Hull quite a while to get settled into it, as it was their first game back in the Premier League. Chelsea were impressive and they closed down well. It was probably similar to the way Real Madrid played against us last season at their place.
“It was a very high tempo game and I am sure he’ll be wanting Chelsea to play the same. You don’t expect to come up against your big rivals as soon as this but it’s at home and is the manager’s first game so I am sure everyone at Old Trafford will be up for it.”
Evans does not expect it to be a three-horse race for the title this season, with the Northern Ireland defender tipping Tottenham to join the party and compete with United, Chelsea and Manchester City.
“It’s not just us three,” he said. “There are other teams around who can have a big impact on the league and, you never know, another team could surprise us.
“There’s a lot of competition out there and every team has a lot of quality. Spurs have spent a lot of money, so it’s going to be a good, open season.”