Evra: We must handle home tests
Patrice Evra has called on Manchester United to shed the Old Trafford fear factor ahead of a crucial festive programme.
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United's strange season took another upturn on Wednesday as they booked a Capital One Cup semi-final date with rock-bottom Sunderland.
Things have gone smoothly for them in the League Cup but in the Champions League and Premier League the Red Devils have been frustratingly inconsistent.
Despite Sunday's win at Aston Villa they remain eighth in the table, trailing Everton and Newcastle among others, seven points behind fourth-placed Manchester City and 10 adrift of leaders Arsenal.
Approaching the halfway point of the season it is an unusual situation for United to be in, not made any easier by those back-to-back home defeats to Everton and Newcastle last month in which they subsided so meekly.
With West Ham due to visit Old Trafford on Saturday, Evra understands any lingering subconscious negativity about United's home form must be dispelled otherwise the situation will not improve.
"After we lost against Everton, it was obvious we looked a little bit worried during the game against Newcastle," said the France defender.
"The crowd were not happy sometimes and that is not easy for anyone. But we play for Manchester United. We have to deal with it because we need the supporters.
"If they want to criticise us, we deserve that because when you play for Manchester United, you have to play with pressure."
Never one to hide his emotions, Evra has a simple of way of dealing with his obvious disappointment at how the campaign has panned out. He is refusing to look.
It is not just the league table he prefers not to analyse. Neither is he thinking about the Champions League. And, even as the dust was settling on a favourable Capital One Cup semi-final draw with Sunderland, Evra was not interested in that either.
"I am not looking at the table and I don't want to look at the future," said the 32-year-old.
"I want to look at the present; West Ham at home.
"Last year we won that kind of game. This season we have more trouble at Old Trafford.
"That is why we have to show our character and personality and play with the Manchester United spirit.
"We have to respect the shirt.
"The conditions at Stoke were not easy but you could feel the Manchester United spirit coming back.
"Now I want to get another unbeaten run going. We have to make sure we keep winning games but we must not slip again because we have already done that too many times and it is too painful."
Manager David Moyes is wrestling with a lengthy injury list.
Robin van Persie and Michael Carrick remain sidelined, while skipper Nemanja Vidic has now missed three successive games and featured just three times since November 10.
In addition, Wayne Rooney has a groin strain which Moyes insists is not serious but he will not wish to risk making it worse at such a congested point of the season.
The good news is that others are starting to assume responsibility.
Ashley Young scored his first goal in over 19 months at the Britannia Stadium, then set up Evra for the Frenchman's startling effort with a right foot which "I only usually use to climb steps".
Young's exuberant reaction to scoring was a sure sign of tension being released from a player whose only headlines in recent times have centred around diving.
"It is a long time since I scored," he said.
"You saw how much it meant to me from my celebrations. I want to get back on the scoresheet and I want to get back to playing.
"I am like everyone else in the squad. I want to play every week. Hopefully I have given the manager some more food for thought.
"He hasn't got an easy job to pick the team with the squad we have got. I wouldn't like to be doing it."