Evra: We missed chance to boost goal difference

Patrice Evra is unhappy that Manchester United did not inflict even more damage on Wolverhampton Wanderers on Tuesday night.

Wolves' manager Mick McCarthy has faced huge criticism following his decision to make 10 changes at Old Trafford. A 3-0 defeat has been viewed by some as suitable punishment for what the Premier League may yet decide is bringing the competitive integrity of the title race into question.

But Evra does not think so. With a goal difference gap to make up on Chelsea, despite recent handsome wins at West Ham and Portsmouth, the France full-back feels United should have capitalised on their weakened opponents and registered their second five-goal haul of the campaign.

"I was not happy to only score three," said Evra. "We respect Wolves but should have done better. The goal difference is important and, in a game like that, we should have won by five or six." Had Wayne Rooney snaffled a clear chance in the opening minutes, United might well have doubled their winning margin, which really would have increased the heat on McCarthy. Instead, they had to settle for a treble for the sixth time in eight games, taking their overall Premier League tally for the season to 37.

Although that figure is still behind Chelsea and Arsenal, it is over halfway to last year's tally of 68, which Ferguson does not believe was good enough, especially as Cristiano Ronaldo was responsible for 18 of them.

It was a situation that Ferguson demanded should be addressed and, so far, he is delighted with the response. "Our scoring rate last season was good enough to win the title but it hardly blew anyone out of the water," said Ferguson. "A few weeks ago I asked the players to be more decisive with their chances, especially in the early part of a match, instead of appearing to take the relaxed view that there will be another in a minute. It seems they took my plea on board."

None more so than Antonio Valencia, whose six-goal haul is just one short of his tally in three seasons at Wigan. The Ecuador winger has settled well into life at United. And, while any comparisons with Ronaldo would be totally unfair, he is starting to make an impact on a regular basis.

His latest effort was one of his best too, the 23-year-old reading Dimitar Berbatov's intentions as the Bulgarian launched an overhead kick into his path. The crisp first-time finish that crashed into the roof of the net looked easy, but that was more to do with the ability of the man concerned.

"Antonio is improving," said Ferguson. "When he came he was a quiet young man. Now he is expansive in his game and he is expressing himself. We like to see all young players develop when they come here. He is capable of scoring goals and we are pleased with that." At the other end, Ferguson does have issues. Having already ruled John O'Shea and Jonny Evans out until January, and Gary Neville joining Rio Ferdinand on the injured list with no time specified for his return, United were desperately hoping Nemanja Vidic and Wes Brown would stay fit to see them through the festive period.

Instead, Brown is out for a fortnight with a hamstring strain, while stand-in skipper Vidic is doubtful for Saturday's trip to Fulham after limping off last night with a sore calf.

If Vidic does not make it, young Belgium international Ritchie De Laet will partner Michael Carrick in central defence. As the only fit defender left, Evra cannot believe how many team-mates have been ruled out.

And, following Jamie Carragher's comments earlier this week, the former Monaco star thinks it is time United were asking for some help from above as well.

"The injuries are getting worse," he said. "I have told everyone they need to go to church every day and pray. It is a difficult time that's for sure. But the squad is strong enough and thankfully, we have some players like Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher who can play at the back."

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