Manchester United defender Jonny Evans has admitted there is currently a crisis of confidence at Old Trafford.
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Saturday’s shattering 1-0 home defeat by Newcastle condemned United to successive Old Trafford reverses in the Premier League for the first time since 2002.
David Moyes’ side have now taken just two points from their last four games, remain in ninth spot in the table and ended Saturday seven points off the Champions League places.
Startlingly, they are only nine above the drop zone, even if a repeat of their relegation in 1974 is impossible to imagine, no matter how dark the present situation appears to be.
Yet Evans concedes confidence has been affected by the recent downturn in fortunes, which is hampering how the United players go about their business.
"Obviously the lads have lost a bit of confidence in their play," said Evans.
"You can tell that with the possession and creativity. Players maybe are not playing how they naturally would. That happens when your confidence drops."
Evans is finding it difficult to explain precisely what is going wrong.
Small details, such as a handball on the line by Vurnon Anita that was not spotted by referee Andre Marriner when the scores were still level, are evidently going against the Red Devils.
However, there was none of the anticipated urgency in the hunt for an equalizer that supporters have come to expect.
Indeed, following Yohan Cabaye’s second-half winner, after which there was still half an hour left, it is hard to recall any concerted pressure on the visitors’ goal.
"Usually whenever we’re chasing a goal at Old Trafford, especially at the Stretford End, we put teams under an enormous amount of pressure," said Evans. "But with the lack of confidence and creativity we didn’t produce that. It is hard to put your finger on it.
"If you look back at the game, we lacked a bit of sharpness in our passing. We were sloppy in possession which allowed Newcastle to get control of the game.
"When we were going forward, the lack of sharpness in our passing stopped us from creating much up front."
It leaves many United fans wondering whether their team are capable of qualifying for next season’s Champions League, let alone retaining their Premier League title.
However, Evans has vowed the fight will go on.
"It’s difficult (to win the league) in any season," he said.
"The fact we’ve lost five games already makes it harder. But we won’t give up. We are professionals. We want to keep going until the end. The most important thing is when we put the Manchester United shirt on and go out at Old Trafford or away from home, we make sure we give everything."