Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 17 September 2014

Evans satisfied with solid start

Jonny Evans

Jonny Evans does not believe the obvious failures of a derby disaster and Champions League humiliation should be allowed to obscure what has been an otherwise effective first half of the Premier League season by Manchester United.

Barring an unexpected setback against Blackburn at Old Trafford on New Year's Eve, United will begin 2012 on top of the table, with Manchester City not in action at Sunderland for another 24 hours.

Aside from the 6-1 loss at home to City, United have dropped points in just three other fixtures, allowing them to close in on their neighbours. And for that, Evans feels United deserve credit, saying: "Compared to last year, the start we've had has been a lot better."

He added: "We've picked up more wins already away from home than we did last year. Obviously the difference between us and Manchester City so far comes down to the game we played against them. Other than that, we've done really well.

"The teams we dropped points against last season away from home we've managed to beat this season, picking up points at places where we've previously found it really difficult."

Yet, amidst a run of eight wins from nine since the City debacle, United have also suffered the calamitous Champions League defeat in Basle that sent them plunging into the Europa League.

And Evans is honest in his assessment of the failed campaign, adding: "The Champions League exit added to the criticism. We'd have liked to have had that group wrapped up at an early stage and maybe we took it for granted a little."

Evans was speaking before he joined Sir Alex Ferguson's long casualty list by picking up a calf strain in the Boxing Day triumph over Wigan at Old Trafford.

The injury means a frustrating spell on the sidelines for a player who has just passed a century of appearances and felt he had returned to form after last season's disappointing performances.

"When I came back from pre-season I felt I hit the ground running," said Evans. "I was happy with my start to the season but obviously people will remember the Manchester City game, when I was sent off. But I have been happy with my performances."

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