Sir Alex Ferguson has reminded his senior players they are all under threat with Alexander Buttner's signing providing competition for Patrice Evra as the manager looks to "protect the future".
Asked if it was important to maintain pressure on established stars, Ferguson said: "That's sensible. Evra has been an absolute soldier. Nobody has played more games than him over the last five years. He has played with injuries. He has guts. He has been up and down that touchline for five years. But he's 31 and we have to protect the future."
Of the 23-year-old Buttner, whose signing caused some surprise in his native Netherlands, Ferguson said: "We've been monitoring him for a while. He's a straight forward attacking, quick full-back, he will be a terrific addition to us. Evra for the last five years has played an average of 48 games a season. It's an incredible statistic and Alex comes now to challenge that position. Patrice is in his 30s and, although he is a fit lad, it gives us a good challenge in that position. Buttner will be involved [against Fulham on Saturday]."
Ferguson has so far bought Buttner, Nick Powell, Shinji Kagawa, Robin van Persie and Angelo Henríquez this summer. "I definitely won't be buying anyone else, that's for sure," he said. "There's no movement I can tell you about."
Andrés Fassi, the Pachuca sporting director, claimed that there had been an "official inquiry" for their midfielder Héctor Herrera. "I don't know where that came from," Ferguson said. "Nothing's happening. We have done our buying."
The manager also stated that Dimitar Berbatov may not leave: "Nothing's happening. If he stays that's fine."
Van Persie could make his full debut against Fulham on Saturday, after making a second-half substitute appearance in Monday's 1-0 defeat at Everton. "Robin has had a few days training since. In an ideal world, he would be better if he had two or three games under his belt but he's not got that," the manager said. "It's a home game and there's every chance he could start. I'm excited myself. I am looking forward to starting him – when he starts."
Following the Everton defeat Ferguson stated his players had not used Van Persie enough. "To be fair to Everton they just forced us wide and made us cross the ball rather than play through him as we would have liked," he said. "There was a temptation – because we had so much easy possession – to go out wide and we are usually quite good from there, no question about that. But on this occasion we never got a cross in that really mattered."
Wayne Rooney produced an uneven performance at Goodison Park. Ferguson said it was important that Van Persie draws more from the striker. "It's important that he brings something to the team. His goals record last year was fantastic. I hope he can do this for us and give us more of an edge. Wayne got 30-something last season and has been improving on his scoring for the last two or three years. We need a contribution from all the strikers."
Of Rooney's form, Ferguson added: "Games do help players. I have already said that with Robin van Persie. Myself I always needed half a dozen games. Everyone is different."
Ferguson's defensive crisis continues with Jonny Evans and Rio Ferdinand out for a further week, at least, while Phil Jones and Chris Smalling are longer-term absentees. "We will go ahead with the same squad as Monday," said Ferguson, who added he would start Rafael da Silva at right-back, with Antonio Valencia potentially moving forward to his usual attacking wide berth.
Fulham won their opening match 5-0 over Norwich City. "I went to see Fulham on Saturday, they played very well. The club has grown tremendously since Roy [Hodgson] got them to the Europa League final. The place is buzzing, full house every week, good atmosphere, their home record is terrific and they've got a lot of experienced players – six players over 30. It won't be an easy game, we're at home, we have to make an impact quickly after losing Monday night and we expect that."