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Sep 17, 2009

Evra: City aren't the kings of Manchester yet

Manchester City may have been grabbing the headlines with their succession of star signings and 100% start to the season but Patrice Evra is determined to show Mark Hughes' side that United are still the "kings of the city" ahead of Sunday's highly-anticipated Manchester derby.

United have enjoyed decades of superiority over their near neighbours but the vast financial resources of City's owners, Abu Dhabi United Group, means the side decked out in sky blue are perhaps closer than ever to the high standards set by their opponents in red in recent times.

City even secured the notable coup of snatching Carlos Tevez from under the nose of Sir Alex Ferguson over the summer and a run of four straight victories has led to speculation that Hughes and his men could well challenge for a Champions League place, and even challenge United's hegemony of the Premier League in coming seasons.

But having won three consecutive titles, Evra believes United will be keen to demonstrate that City have a long way to go before they can encroach on Ferguson's dominance, despite the very evident ambition on show at Eastlands.

"They want to show people that they are the kings of the city but they aren't yet," Evra told the Guardian. "This is a new Manchester City. They are going for the Champions League and it will be a difficult game for us because they haven't lost yet this season.

"They are ambitious, they want to stay in the top four, they have bought a lot of players and they have already beaten Arsenal 4-2 so they will be going into the game with a lot of confidence. But we are confident because we are Manchester United.

"We need to show that we are Manchester United, that over the years we have won a lot more than City, and we need to make sure we do that again. We have a lot of respect for City but we are Manchester United and every time we play City we really have to show that. They want to be kings of the city. Well, we have to make sure that doesn't happen."

City's capture of Tevez, despite United making an attempt to sign the Argentine on a permanent deal, was a real statement of intent from City but the forward is likely to be denied a return to Old Trafford on Sunday as he is suffering from a knee injury sustained on international duty.

Evra admits to being "angry" at seeing his good friend leave United and has warned the former Old Trafford favourite that if he makes a miracle recovery, there may not be a warm reception awaiting him following his decision to turn his back on Ferguson and the club.

"We have been joking a bit on the texts," Evra said. "He told me they were coming here to win. I'll wait for the reception he gets from the United fans but I think Carlito will do a great job for Manchester City. He is a good professional and he respected the United shirt a lot.

"The fans loved him. I don't know if they will boo him or clap him but I said to him, 'If they boo you, I will boo as well'.

"I think he might make it because he is a warrior and he wants to play against us. I was surprised he left and a little bit angry. I kept talking to him, telling him to stay. I tried to persuade him because I didn't want to lose my friend but he made a choice and I respect the choice.

"He had some good reasons and I just told him 'good luck'. It's not about one player or two players at Manchester United [though]. The team is more important than any one player."

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