Serbia defender Nemanja Vidic has admitted that Manchester United must raise their game if they are to retain the Premiership title this season as they prepare for today's big kick-off against Reading at Old Trafford.
Sir Alex Ferguson's men start the new campaign as favorites to win the league again having spent in excess of ?50 million (US$101 million) on new signings Owen Hargreaves, Anderson, Nani and Carlos Tevez.
The nine-times Premiership kings denied Chelsea a hat-trick of titles by claiming their first championship in four years last term, but Vidic, who formed a crucial defensive partnership with Rio Ferdinand in United's back four, insists that it will take a big improvement if they are to thwart Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool again this season.
"We need to improve everywhere. If you want to win the Premier League and get to the Champions League final, everyone has to take one step up," Vidic said. "We have to be better this season. If we play at the same standard as last season, we will not be good enough to win the league."
"This season the Premiership will be a lot stronger than it was last season because clubs are buying more quality players and we know we'll need to work even harder than we did last season if we're going to win the title again. That is the key for us," he said. "Every game against the likes of Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal is hard, but all we can do is focus on ourselves and what we can do as a squad together. But it's true that, while we have strengthened this summer, other clubs have done the same."