Patrice Evra believes Manchester United’s self-destructive streak has caused the Premier League champions too much pain this season.
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The left-back said another slump would be hard to bear for everyone at Old Trafford and has urged his teammates to show “the Manchester United spirit” and put their present problems behind them.
United have suffered back-to-back league defeats twice this season, to Manchester City and West Bromwich Albion in September and then to Everton and Newcastle in December, and though they have won their last three games in all competitions, Evra is wary of another relapse.
He said: “I want to get another unbeaten run going, but this time we do not want to slip back again. It is too painful. It is too painful for us, for the staff, for the fans. We have to make sure we keep winning games. We must not slip again because we have already done that too many times.”
United face West Ham at Old Trafford on Saturday but have an unusually poor home record, after losing three of their opening eight league games and only scoring eight times.
And while the United crowd have not been impressed with some of United’s home performances, Evra said it is up to the players and to cope with the expectations and to lift the spectators.
He said: “We have to show them first on the pitch by playing well. If they want to criticise us, we deserve that because when you play for Manchester United, you have to play with the pressure.”
The defending champions have set themselves up for a battle to retain their trophy, sitting 10 points behind league leaders Arsenal in eighth spot.
But the 32-year-old insisted: “I am not looking at the table. I look at the next game which is West Ham at home. Last year we won that kind of game. We have more trouble at Old Trafford. That is where we have to show our character and our personality and play with the Manchester United spirit.
“Of course we need points. I wouldn't lie and say anything else. What counts is how you act on the pitch. We have to make sure we play with the Manchester United spirit and give everything you have got when you are on the pitch. We have to respect the shirt.
“I think everything is going to be OK. I don't want to think about the past. The past is gone. I don't want to think about the future because I might get worried. I want to think about the present. The present is about winning games.”