Manchester United’s defence has been leaking chances and goals this season at an alarming rate. Prior to kick off against Newcastle, we had failed to keep a clean sheet in our last four games.
“I think the main thing was that we defended and attacked as a team. We were a real unit out there and we made it hard for a good Newcastle side.” Jonny Evans
It was extremely worrying as it wasn’t solely the fault of the defence, but of a general lack of defending in the team as a whole – and Sir Alex knew it.
Jonny Evans revealed that in training ahead of the Newcastle game, it was something that was quietly address during the week and it obviously paid dividends .
He said: “We got back to basics and that was a big thing for us.
“It was just a little reminder for people in their minds that the basic things are the things you need in football if you want to get results.
“It was just common sense, really. There is a lot of experience in the team and we’ve had a little word amongst each other and said let’s get back to basics. That is basically all it has been.”
“We defended from the front at Newcastle. If you are so open it gives opponents chances and that is hard on a defender.
“If teams are having that many attacks they are going to score goals and so you have to limit it and defend as a unit. That’s what we did.
“We are capable of keeping clean sheets and it is important to do that and continue that because we have great players who can score goals. If we keep clean sheets then we will win games.
“You could see by the way that we started up there that we wanted to come out and put on a good performance.”
It was the best team performance that Manchester United have put in this season. Michael Carrick sitting in front of the defence as a holding midfielder gave us fantastic protection through the middle and the energy of Wayne Rooney and Tom Cleverley, who constantly tracked back, gave us serious presence and limited Newcastle’s space on the ball.
Even more impressive was the fact it was away at Newcastle against an extremely physical side, but we always looked in control of the game from the first whistle.
Jonny Evans continued: “They had big powerful lads with good goal-scoring records, especially up at the Sports Direct Arena. We knew we were in for a hard game but we were up for the challenge and, thankfully, we were able to keep a clean sheet.
“I wouldn’t say it was a rough patch we’ve had. We obviously lost to a very good Spurs side and it was probably just a little blip from us defensively.
“It is hard to say we have got over it yet but we have had a good result at Newcastle and it is up to us now to maintain it. We will certainly gain confidence from it.
“We were seven points behind Chelsea (before the game) so it was a big gap and if we had dropped points it would have been a big task. Although it is still early on in the season, you don’t want to give a team that kind of advantage so early on.”
The international break will break up the momentum gained from this game but with two home games against Stoke and Braga after it, let’s hope we will kick straight back into gear.