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Sports Johnny Evans blames defensive opponents for Manchester United's win-ugly style

It is going to be a tough run-in but I think we have got a bit of form and if we can carry that on it will keep us in the top four.”Evans was speaking at the launch of Manchester United Social Media, powered by KamaGames, available to download www.manutdsocialcasino.com.'. Once we get the ball down and show our composure I think the football will be attractive.“You can see there is progress from the results.

Despite a run of only one defeat in 19 games, United have received criticism for their lack of style and panache under Louis Van Gaal but Evans claims it is partly down to the fact that teams are simply setting out to stop them playing.

Northern Ireland international defender Evans says United are taking satisfaction from their ability to ‘grind out’ results and insists that was often the case in Sir Alex Ferguson's 27-year reign, despite the popular perception that they always played free-flowing football. He aso believes the entertainment value will improve as the squad adapts and evolves under Van Gaal’s management.

“As players we know that we could perform better,” he said. “The manager wants us to play more attractive football but teams have pressed from the front and made a lot of the games scrappy.

“Whether it's the FA Cup ties or Premier League games, teams are putting us under a lot of pressure. Some of the games have been scrappy but that has been dictated by our opponents as well.

“Everyone likes to grind them [results] out and I think that has been my experience over the years - there have been times when we have not played well or played nice football and we have ground out results.

“Our record of one defeat in 19 games is a good one. We have drawn quite a few of those games and we would have liked to have turned some of them into wins but we are not losing games, we are defending well and long may that continue.

“As players we are always analysing performances and everyone wants to play nice attractive football. Once we get the ball down and show our composure I think the football will be attractive.

“You can see there is progress from the results. At the start of season we were not playing well and we were not getting results but the manager has got us organised and everyone knows their jobs. Once we get that cemented then we can go and start entertaining again.”

United have received flak in some quarters for having to resort to using Marouane Fellaini as a battering ram centre forward in order to make the breakthrough in certain games but Evans says the former eVerton midfielder's aerial power and physicality is a useful weapon to unsettle defences.

And he was not surprised the former Everton midfielder scored the crucial second goal in the 3-1 FA Cup fifth round win at Preston last night.

“Having played against him, especially at Everton, he always gave you a hard afternoon,” he added. “The goal he scored last night was typical - Antonio Valencia has taken the full back on and as soon as he lifted the ball in the air, I didn't have to see Fellaini at the back post. I knew he would be there and knew it would be goal before it went in. That is strength he possesses.”

Evans says it is vital United maintain their improved run of results to ensure they finish in the top four because the chase for Champions League qualifying positions is intensifying with Southampton, Arsenal, Tottenham and Liverpool all breathing down their necks.

He said: “If you look at the teams round us, they are all good sides and ones that at the start of the season you would be predicted to be there. It is going to be a tough run-in but I think we have got a bit of form and if we can carry that on it will keep us in the top four.”

Evans was speaking at the launch of Manchester United Social Media, powered by KamaGames, available to download www.manutdsocialcasino.com.'

Express
18/02
2 Points
1

Sports Jonny Evans: Man Utd players are FINALLY getting to grips with Louis van Gaal's philosophy

Different players in different parts of the pitch, from centre forwards to midfielders, are all playing an important in that.”Evans emphasised United’s determination to end their 11-year wait to win the FA Cup.“Our record in the Cup hasn’t been good over the last few years,” he said.“It’s an old cliché that you want to win everything but it is such a historic trophy, especially for Manchester United.

Van Gaal announced on arrival at Old Trafford last summer that he intended to “train brains” as much as the bodies and he has been as good as his word.

The demanding Dutchman has constantly shifted players around in a bid to find the right balance and formula and has switched between 3-5-2, 3-4-1-2 and 4-4-2 formations.

But Evans says that a run of 16 games with only one defeat shows his methods are beginning to bear fruit.

He said: “The lads have had to take a lot on board. At times, you know, it has been tough and it takes time.

"We’ve been used to playing a certain way for a number of years then the change happens and the new manager wants us to play a certain way.

"It takes time for those things to become second nature but I think you are starting to see that now.

“The fact that the formation has changed a lot has taught the lads an awful lot. Using three at the back against Spurs and Liverpool for instance really suited us because of the way those teams play.

"The experience of using different formations can only benefit us in the long run."

Evans refutes suggestions that Van Gaal’s passion for possession has blunted United’s traditional attacking flair but praised the way he has turned them into the third meanest defence in the Premier League - behind Southampton and Chelsea - after an unconvincing start to the season.

He added: “I think when you get as many attacking players on the pitch as we’ve got you are always going to entertain.

“But the manager has done a lot of work in trying to steady the team and making sure everyone knows their jobs. Once we get that nailed on, and everyone knows their defensive jobs, then I think we’ll be able to push on from that and be really entertaining again.

“You can look at the formation and the personnel changes, plus the fact that there’s a lot of players who haven’t played together before, and the manager] is doing very well in getting us organised. And as players we’re really benefitting from that.

“Going back to the start of the season, it was a bit mixed. But if you take the Leicester away game when we conceded five out of the equation and our defensive record is good.

“I think we’ve produced some good defensive displays. Different players in different parts of the pitch, from centre forwards to midfielders, are all playing an important in that.”

Evans emphasised United’s determination to end their 11-year wait to win the FA Cup.

“Our record in the Cup hasn’t been good over the last few years,” he said.

“It’s an old cliché that you want to win everything but it is such a historic trophy, especially for Manchester United. The League title has not gone but it is not looking likely so the FA Cup looks our best chance of a trophy this season, especially when you look at the teams who have gone out and the fact we’re the highest ranked team left in the competition now.”

United face another lower division team in the fifth round ? League One promotion chasers Preston ? after ties against League One Yeovil and League two Cambridge.

“It may look easy on paper but if you look at the games we’ve had ? the first halves at both Yeovil and Cambridge especially - it can be a bit of an onslaught so they are tough games. You have got to respect these teams. And I think one thing we have done is prepare really well. We haven’t taken them lightly.”

Express
05/02
16 Points
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