Evra calls for United focus

BY foxsports • April 5, 2011

Evra is among the majority of United players who head into the Champions League quarter-final first-leg clash having never beaten the Londoners on their own ground. Sir Alex Ferguson's men have come close on numerous occasions and in recent times have headed north nursing a major sense of frustration. Last year, a controversial John Terry effort settled the Premier League encounter in the hosts' favour and only five weeks ago, Ferguson was fuming at the performance of referee Martin Atkinson as Chelsea came from behind to claim maximum points. Evra cannot explain how such results have occurred. However, he does feel the solution is straightforward. "It is something very strange," he said. "Always we have the sensation we have played very well against Chelsea. In the end, at Stamford Bridge we always lose. "Five weeks ago, there was only one team on the pitch. One year ago, we lost to a strange decision. "The key is our concentration. We can play better than them but we must concentrate until the last minute." In a game that has been overshadowed by Wayne Rooney's disciplinary problems, Evra is returning to the scene of his own troubles. Three years ago the France international was banned for four matches by the FA following a post-match altercation with Chelsea groundsman Sam Bethell. At the time Evra expressed his displeasure in no uncertain manner. But, proving time is a healer, he insists revenge has no bearing on his own preparation. "It is many years ago now," he said. "It is nothing special. I don't think about it. "I want to win against Chelsea because I have a lot of respect for that team not because of what has happened to me personally." Equally, Ferguson is not convinced United's opponents will be motivated by that rainy night in Moscow's Luzhniki Stadium when the Champions League final turned on a missed Terry effort in a penalty shoot-out eventually won when Edwin van der Sar denied Nicolas Anelka. "I don't believe players think about revenge," said Ferguson. "Something that happened three years ago goes out of your mind quite quickly. "The main ambition for any team is to win the cup. The motivation is greater to the match than to think about what happened in the past." For the first time in a while, Ferguson is having to give some thought to the defensive make-up of his team. Jonny Evans' availability after a domestic suspension offers an instant enhancing of his squad strength but it is the knowledge that Rafael and Rio Ferdinand made the trip south this afternoon which is just as important. Both would be part of Ferguson's first-choice back four, although for Ferdinand in particular, the dilemma over whether to pick him is great thanks to a combination of the 32-year-old's own rustiness after two months on the sidelines with a calf strain and Chris Smalling's outstanding form alongside Nemanja Vidic. "I don't know about Rio," said Ferguson. "He had 10 days physical work and has been training with us on the football side for seven. "He does have experience and is a fantastic footballer." Although Ferguson has spent the season defending his troops against the charge of being an underwhelming representation of United by recent standards, the Scot himself came up with one immediate difference between tomorrow's eagerly-anticipated clash and that final in Moscow. "There is one major difference - there is no Ronaldo," said Ferguson. "He was a fantastic player." Nevertheless, it is conceivable that seven of United's starting line-up from that night will retain their places tomorrow, with Nani and Antonio Valencia amongst those set to join them. That number could be matched by Chelsea. They have also gone through three coaches though, with Roman Abramovich splashing out £50million on Fernando Torres during the January transfer window too in what Ferguson feels is a clear indication about the Russian's priorities. "There is no question it is Abramovich's driving force," said Ferguson. "He wants it the most. That is why he has paid £50million for Torres. "They will be desperate to win the European Cup. But no more desperate than we are."


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