Rio fired up by competition
Rio Ferdinand has warned the young challengers to his defensive throne that he has no intention of being eased out of Manchester United. Earlier this week, Ferdinand spoke enthusiastically about the abilities of Jonny Evans, Chris Smalling and £17million new boy Phil Jones. Having arrived on tour late due to their participation in the European Under-21 Championship with England, the latter pair are expected to make their first pre-season appearances in Saturday night's encounter with the Chicago Fire. Ferdinand is keen to see what they can do. The 32-year-old remembers exactly how he felt at the same stage of his career. He realises the talent is there, but merely stepping aside to let them in is a different proposition completely. "I remember what I was like when I was young," he said. "I remember looking up at Slaven Bilic, Marc Rieper, Alvin Martin and Steve Potts at West Ham. "I was only a kid but I used to sit on the bench and think I should be playing. I am sure these guys think the same thing. "If they have got anything about them they should. "They are all talented footballers and, I believe, Manchester United players. At some point I am sure they will take over the reins. "But I am competitive and I don't want to be giving up my position to anybody. My task is to prove I am hungrier than them." Ferdinand's fun-loving outlook on life will ensure Jones in particular is not in awe of him. After all, Evans and Smalling have already been exposed to the Londoner's brand of humour, and celebrated a Premier League title with him. In any case, Ferdinand is adamant Sir Alex Ferguson would soon be aware if anyone was unable to do themselves justice because they were being intimidated by reputations. "They can't be in awe of me," he said. "If they are, they will get shipped out. That is the way it is. "Your desire has to be to play. I understand and respect that. That is why they are here." Ferguson has already made the point to Jones that Ferdinand has missed matches during the previous three seasons, heightening his chances of getting games. Ferdinand has to live with that knowledge, knowing any problem will be seized upon with suspicion and worry, even when he only gets a tap on the ankle, as was the case in the final seconds of Wednesday's 7-0 rout of the Seattle Sounders. In fact, the defender is feeling better than he has done for some time and insists there are no fitness concerns blighting his pre-season campaign. "My fitness is OK," he said. "I am nowhere near where I want to be yet but we have three weeks left. "Last season, I had no problems with my back, which was a good thing, but I did pull my calf which kept me out for a chunk of the year. "Hopefully this time around I won't have anything like that and I can continue to play a consistent amount of games." New goalkeeper David De Gea is also set for his debut at Soldier Field, with many fans anxious to see whether the 20-year-old can match the heady expectations that have brought comparisons to Petr Cech from Ferguson himself. The exit of Edwin van der Sar has brought an obvious pressure to perform, whilst Anders Lindegaard and Ben Amos clearly have a vested interest in trying to make life as difficult as possible for De Gea. Not that Ferdinand believes that should be an issue. As he comes up to his 10th season at Old Trafford, he knows handling pressure is merely an extension of the job his team-mates have to perform. "Over the years this club has been very successful," he said. "In the last couple of years we have won trophies as well. It is great to see. But it does bring pressure. "It is not overwhelming though. It is part of being a Manchester United player. You have to deal with all that stuff. "It separates you from being a Manchester United player and not."
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