Patrice Evra’s move to dismiss speculation he might be leaving Manchester United could give the Old Trafford side a timely boost ahead of Saturday’s home clash against Stoke City.
The United vice-captain told MUTV on Friday that he had been misrepresented in a recent interview with French newspaper Telefoot, where it was suggested he could leave Old Trafford next summer.
David Moyes’ side are enduring their worst start to a season for over two decades and face the possibility of not winning three home games in a row for the first time since 2007.
“I love this club so much,” said Evra when clarifying comments in his native French to United.
“I had a French interview and I said: ‘It’s personal’ meaning ‘I don’t want to talk about it’,” he added.
“The only thing I can say is it was a big misunderstanding . Maybe some people [outside United] want me to leave the club but that’s not the case. I will answer if somebody wants to talk about my contract”.
Moyes says his side cannot afford many more slip-ups and in United’s favour is the fact they haven’t lost to the Potters in the league since 1983.
Having only collected 11 points from a possible 24 and with Manchester City meeting Chelsea on Sunday, Moyes will be eager for tomorrow’s game to provide a springboard for the rest of the season.
“There’s only two months of the season gone and there will be a lot of slip-ups by teams between now and the end of the season. We don’t want to lose many more if we can help it,” Moyes told a news conference on Friday.
The United manager could benefit from the return of Robin van Persie – who has scored eight goals in seven games against Stoke – after the Dutch international missed the mid-week Champions League win over Real Sociedad.
“Robin has a good chance. He had a problem with his toes and a little bit with his groin. But he has had a little bit of training as well and he should be OK,” said Moyes.
However, there is uncertainty over five first team players, including stalwart centre-back pairing Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.
Danny Welbeck and Tom Cleverley are still recovering from knee and calf problems respectively, while Vidic also looks doubtful, but Ferdinand tweeted his excitement at re-joining training yesterday.
“The feeling when you get back into training is unreal…the competitiveness, the banter comes back, even the smell of the freshly cut grass!”
Marouane Fellaini could also be available having ‘got used’ to wearing a cast on his wrist.
Although Stoke don’t have a prolific history against United – they won a League Cup first leg tie 2-1 in 1993, but lost 3-2 on aggregate – Mark Hughes believes that the title-holders are ripe for the picking.
“There are only a certain amount of games you can lose,” said the former Manchester City boss.
“They’ve lost three and maybe they are a little bit vulnerable at the moment.West Brom have won there so it’s more than possible that we can get a positive result. You can’t go to Old Trafford and be apprehensive.
“The expectation from ourselves and our fans is high.”
Moyes gave his counterpart’s comments short shrift.
“That might be Mark’s opinion,” he said.
“He’s entitled to that but we’ll wait and see.”
Image courtesy of MUTV via YouTube, with thanks.