Belfast Telegraph

Friday 22 August 2014

Jonny Evans: Manchester United had to shine against Liverpool after City woe

Chest right: Jonny Evans challenges Luis Suarez during Manchester United's 1-0 victory over Liverpool at Old Trafford on Wednesday night

Nobody shirked the issue. The blame game did not begin. The Manchester United players simply got down to business again on the training pitch knowing that their performance against Manchester City had not been up to scratch. It didn't even come close.

Northern Ireland defender Jonny Evans did not play in last Sunday's 4-1 mauling at the Etihad stadium, but he felt the pain.

They all did.

That's what has made Manchester United players so successful for the last two decades.

Being in it together was crucial to Sir Alex Ferguson bringing so many trophies to Old Trafford.

And clearly that all for one, one for all attitude still exists, even with the knight of the realm no longer managing the football club.

David Moyes is the main man now and after the crushing derby defeat, he needed his new players to rally round, which is exactly what they did for Wednesday's Capital One Cup tie 1-0 victory against Liverpool.

And none more so than Evans who had a solid game in his side's important win.

What made the performance from Evans all the more impressive was that it was his first appearance for United this season, his first with Moyes in charge and he was up against the twin threat of Liverpool's in form Daniel Sturridge and Luis Suarez, who had hoped to return from his 10 match ban with a bang.

After the pitiful defending from experienced duo Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic against City, it was satisfying for Moyes to see the younger pair of Evans and Chris Smalling shine at the heart of the back four when faced with such dangerous opponents.

Surely Moyes will feel, like Ferguson before him, that he can now trust Evans for the big challenges ahead domestically and in Europe.

Evans himself was delighted to have got his first club fixture of the season under his belt, helping to erase the sour taste in his mouth from the last game he played in – Northern Ireland's embarrassing and shameful World Cup qualifying defeat to Luxembourg earlier this month.

After the slender win over Liverpool, the 25-year-old Ulsterman gave an interesting insight into the atmosphere at United's Carrington training complex following that walloping by their Manchester rivals.

He admitted that everyone in red knew that the derby defeat was unacceptable and that the only way to make things right was to look forward, react positively and beat Liverpool.

He also revealed that during Ferguson's reign there had been occasions when the mood had been a lot bleaker.

"I have been on the training ground where the atmosphere has been worse than it was when we came in the day after the City game," said Evans, who has won three Premier League titles, the same number as Chelsea greats John Terry and Frank Lampard.

"We had no complaints at the weekend.

"Everyone was honest in their assessment that we didn't apply ourselves the way we should have.

"It is hard for the fans, the players and the manager as well. We just had to move on from it quickly."

That they did.

For the home match with the Anfield men, Moyes made eight changes from the team that started against City and right from the off there was more energy and focus throughout his side.

It wasn't just Evans who put his hand up for a regular place in the starting XI. Surely matchwinner Javier Hernandez must play more, although he won't always be helped the way he was by Liverpool's dreadful defending from an early second half corner on Wednesday night.

Rather than focus on Jose Enrique's inability to track his man, Evans preferred to praise his team-mate, saying: "Chicharito scored a brilliant goal. His movement was unbelievable to get away from his marker. We know what he's like day in, day out in training.

"You've always got to be aware of him, he only needs a yard to get a goal. It was a fantastic finish."

As for an appraisal on his own performance, Evans remarked: "It was my first start of the season and it was a tough game to come into because if you look at their forward line they've got a lot of pace and trickery.

"You know when you're playing against Sturridge and Suarez you're never going to have an easy evening, but as a team we defended every set-piece well and that's what you need in games like this.

"We defended every set piece well and were blocking shots. We dug in. We didn't play as well as we might have wanted to, but it can be like that against Liverpool, it's more blood and thunder."

Moyes will demand the same desire and determination against West Brom tomorrow at Old Trafford in the Premier League. He could do a lot worse than sticking with Evans in central defence.

It would be a big call to drop Ferdinand or Vidic for the visit of the Baggies, but isn't that what being Manchester United boss is all about?

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