Evra not expecting credit
Patrice Evra is not expecting Manchester United to receive much credit for one of the cornerstones of their Premier League title bid - a refusal to give in.
Once again United were staring at defeat against West Ham on Wednesday night. Twice they battled back from behind to secure a precious point that leaves them needing just six from five matches in order to clinch their 20th championship.
It was a throwback to the early weeks of the campaign, when United repeatedly fought their way back from tricky positions. Evra has noticed the Red Devils' comeback story is so old, it rarely generates a flicker of interest any more. "Because it is Manchester United people don't give us a lot of credit," he said.
"They just say 'Oh, okay, they escaped, they came back'. If it is another team they say what great character they have, what a great team they are. But we have not escaped. This is character. This is personality. It is the reason we are in the position we are. I don't see anyone with more character than this team."
Yet, after six-and-half seasons, Evra has become accustomed to the lack of credit. He knows the main prize only gets handed out once. And no amount of sniping could take the gloss off that. "You have to accept the criticism," he said. "But in France we say we pay the musician at the end of the show. I hope we are going to be paying this year."
David de Gea and Nemanja Vidic were paying the price for a bruising encounter with Andy Carroll at Upton Park on Wednesday night.
While manager Sir Alex Ferguson was furious over the challenge on De Gea he believed should have got Carroll sent off just before half-time, Vidic was distinctly unimpressed by the elbow that left him nursing a nasty bruise at the final whistle.
Yet the kind of robust confrontation was exactly what United had been planning for, and Phil Jones feels Vidic and central defensive partner Rio Ferdinand handled it brilliantly. "We knew we were going to be put under pressure with a lot of high balls," said Jones. "Rio and Vida dealt with it well."
Confidence has not been dented by a tally of just four points from United's last three games. Six more are required, and even without taking into account fixtures against Arsenal and Chelsea, home games against Villa and Swansea offer the chance to seal the title before a nervy last game without hoping for a favour off City.
"We've been confident throughout the season and nothing is going to change now," said Jones. "We've got a big game against Aston Villa on Monday night and I'm sure, if we can pick up three points there, it will stand us in great stead for Arsenal [the following Sunday]."