Jump on Sir Alex Ferguson to celebrate a goal? He might sack me, says Manchester United defender Patrice Evra

Robin van Persie celebrated at the weekend by leaping on the United manager

Patrice Evra has no intention of following Robin van Persie's example by leaping into Sir Alex Ferguson when he scores his next Manchester United goal.

Van Persie's instinctive reaction to ending a 10-game goal drought at Stoke on Sunday was to race to the away dugout and jump into the arms of the man who paid Arsenal £24million to bring him to Old Trafford in the summer.

A clearly delighted Ferguson was left spluttering: "He nearly killed me, he forgets that I'm 71."

The Dutchman's reaction has created a great deal of hilarity in the United dressing room too, where it has been one of the chief topics of conversation.

Not that Evra dare a repeat.

"No chance. Never," said the France defender.

"Maybe I will do it with my team-mates. But not with the gaffer. He is older.

"Imagine I go in too strong against him. He could fall, then he might sack me. I will never do that."

Evra could barely keep a straight face as he delivered his assessment of Van Persie's reaction.

"Robin has had a lot of stick from us," said Evra.

"It was nice. I could see a lot of love and emotion.

"It is the first time we saw that. Robin can tell you, for two or three days we have been getting at him. It is good to see love like that on the pitch sometimes."

The banter, even at the expense of such a high-profile personality, underlines the spirit within the United squad presently driving them towards a record 20th league title.

"I always say the atmosphere at this club is great," said Evra.

"That is a big strength for Manchester United. To be fair, Robin told us he was really emotional. He had not scored for 10 games.

"He just showed the passion and the way he wanted to win. He just said 'hands up guys, it was an emotional game. I did it, it is OK, we can move on now'."

United have now moved on from Stoke to West Ham, where they play tomorrow searching for the first three of the seven points still needed to grab the Premier League trophy back from Manchester City.

Outside their Carrington training complex, most assume the task has already been completed. Even up the road at City the towel has been hurled in.

Ferguson refuses to think like that until the job is finished, though, and evidently none of his players are thinking that way either after their manager urged them to realign their sights after three big defeats to Real Madrid, Chelsea and City in the space of a month.

"The boss is a winner," he said.

"He said before the Stoke game that the season starts now. He has just told us to win the seven games that are left. That shows you the way he wants to win this 20th title. He told us not to think about the title, just think about winning these seven games.

"We can still break the (points) record so the challenge for us is to win the seven games we have left.

"It won't be easy but that is the way the boss wants us to play."

Ferguson has confirmed there are no fresh injury concerns for the West Ham trip, with Ashley Young and Paul Scholes still ruled out by ankle and knee problems respectively.

Ryan Giggs and Tom Cleverley will both hope for a recall to the midfield berth occupied by Wayne Rooney at Stoke, whilst Rafael, Danny Welbeck and Nani are amongst those eager to play some part.

"We have a good, strong squad," Ferguson told MUTV.

"We took 20 players with us to Stoke and those 20 players will go with us again tomorrow."

PA

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