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Dec 4, 2009

Brown: We won't be distracted by City threat

Wes Brown insists Manchester United will not be distracted from their relentless hunt for silverware despite the emergence of Manchester City as wealthy new challengers.

According to one club president in Europe, United are a club in "financial crisis", a concept that would position United as the paupers to City's princes. But Brown believes United's intention to challenge for titles year after year won't be derailed by increased competition from their bitter rivals.

United head to West Ham on Saturday looking to close the gap on Premier League leaders Chelsea to a couple of points before Carlo Ancelotti's men tackle City at Eastlands half an hour later. Yet it is the Carling Cup that remains the talk of the city, as it pits United against City in a two-legged semi-final where the prize is a place at Wembley.

While United have been there on numerous occasions in recent years, for City it would represent their first major final since 1981 and confirmation the multi-million pound investment of Sheikh Mansour may eventually change the landscape of the English game. But the Red Devils have no intention of simply standing aside.

"You are aware of the shifts in power but we have always been up there, which is a good achievement,'' Brown told Inside United. "We set out to challenge for the title at the start of every season and to continue doing that we have to keep working hard.

"City have got a lot of money to spend and have therefore bought good players and will probably continue to do so. That means they are going to be challenging - they have to be with the players they have. We have just got to keep doing what we are doing, continue improving and hopefully we can keep on doing as well as we have over the last few years.''

Having placed his trust in youth to get United past Tottenham in midweek, Ferguson will bring back all his big names at the weekend, although there is still a question mark over Edwin van der Sar, who missed the win at Portsmouth last weekend after suffering a bang on the knee in a collision with Everton's Tim Cahill the week before.

However, it is the decision not to pursue a stated interest in Partizan Belgrade youngster Adem Ljajic that has vexed many United fans. Old Trafford sources insist there is no truth in the claim by Partizan president Dragan Djuric that United - who have confirmed debts of £790million - are in the midst of a "financial crisis''.

That has not stopped questions being raised by the Manchester United Supporters' Trust, who have been fiercely opposed to the Glazer family since they completed their controversial takeover in 2005.

"The true picture will not be clear until after the January transfer window but with the £80m Ronaldo transfer fee plus the supposed £25-30m annual transfer kitty a spend of £100m would effectively be break-even and supporters will rightly be asking where has the money gone when they've been forced to pay more and more through the huge ticket price rises in recent years,'' said MUST chairman Duncan Drasdo.

"If that money is not reinvested in the club, many will see it as little better than theft and feel entitled to demand ticket prices are slashed to pre-takeover levels.''

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