Evra: Unique spirit will help us win League
Wednesday 28 December 2011
When Patrice Evra starts talking about Manchester United's "team spirit", he is usually up to something. Last season he ramped up the pressure on the pretenders to their title, Manchester City, and with Boxing Day's 5-0 dismantling of Wigan evidence that United have turned the corner of an underwhelming season, he did it again, claiming United will finish top of the pile come May.
A year ago, the French defender provoked City with the statement that "they always say they are a bigger club and they never beat us... We keep winning because we are confident. That's the Manchester United spirit. We just know when we play with that spirit we can beat anyone."
On Boxing Day, Evra was part of a makeshift back four – owing to an injury list that would break lesser clubs – that placed him as a 5ft 8in central defender alongside Michael Carrick, with midfielder Antonio Valencia at right-back, and 19-year-old Ezekiel Fryers at left-back. They still managed to keep a clean sheet. Evra said: "We're going to win because it's the team effort and team spirit. This is the United spirit: you can play everywhere [in any position] – if you want to win you have to accept it. The team is the star, not one player."
If that was a barb directed at the blue half of Manchester, it is unlikely to affect City's manager, Roberto Mancini, who has coped with training-ground scuffles and Carlos Tevez's pitchside mutiny by taking the club to the top of the league at Christmas.
But if Evra, like United, has suffered a traumatic season so far, including that 6-1 thrashing at Old Trafford, things are looking up. The Luis Suarez case is resolved in his favour and the squad have got over their early European ejection with five league wins on the bounce. They are level on points with City, and with their rivals stuttering – a draw against West Bromwich Albion and defeat at Chelsea of late – Evra feels momentum is with the champions.
"If we win and score goals and keep many clean sheets, like we did against Wigan, we're going to be top at the end of the season," he said.
As the race for the title narrows into what looks a two-horse contest, and City's goalkeeper Joe Hart admitted to "feeling the pressure" at The Hawthorns, Evra has carefully chosen his moment to go on the offensive.
"The Man United spirit," he said. "No one team has got that spirit. This is United. This is why I'm so proud to play here." There is that word "spirit" again. It means United, and Evra, are back in the mood.
Latest in Sport
Sky Sports and BT Sport announce Premier League live matches for 2015/16 with Man United, Chelsea, Arsenal and Liverpool in action
Football kits 2015/16: The good, the bad and the downright worst new shirts from around the world for next season
Chelsea 2015/16 home shirt leaked again as new picture appears online
Wimbledon 2015: 'Heather Watson deserved to win the match,' concedes world No 1 Serena Williams after gruelling contest
Dustin Brown: Who is the world number 102 who knocked Rafael Nadal out of Wimbledon?
- 1 Michelle Watt's father says TV presenter killed herself because she was in constant pain
- 2 Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
- 3 Greek debt crisis: The photograph that conveys the despair of Greece's elderly
- 4 Miami defendant sobs in court as he realises he and the judge attended the same school
- 5 Chinese stock market has lost £1.5 trillion in the last three weeks
Nathan Collier: Montana man inspired by same-sex marriage ruling requests right to wed two wives
Greece crisis: IMF was pushed around by Angela Merkel and Nicholas Sarkozy – and now it is being humiliated
Forget little green men – aliens will look like humans, says Cambridge University evolution expert
'I wish the BBC would stop calling it Islamic State' – David Cameron unleashes frustration at broadcaster
Greece crisis: The wider lesson is that it’s time to abandon this failed experiment in currencies
Girl, 7, stares down hate preacher at Ohio festival with pro-LGBT rainbow flag gesture