Erik ten Hag lauded “massively important” Jonny Evans after the veteran helped Manchester United earn a much-needed 1-0 victory against Burnley.
The 35-year-old made his first start for Man Utd since 2015 on Saturday afternoon. He helped to secure a much-needed clean sheet and set up Bruno Fernandes for the only goal after his earlier header was ruled out.
Evans re-joined for the club earlier this month following his release by relegated Leicester City, and boss Ten Hag said: “We have problems and in this moment a lot is against us: injuries, decisions and we have all seen the examples.
“We are very happy to have a player like Jonny Evans in the squad. He comes in and he is calm, composed, he has character and a good skill-set. Even when you have things against you, you can bounce back and then you have the character in the team to do that.
“In the summer, I heard he was in to train with the under-23s, I said ‘Fletch (technical director Darren Fletcher), come bring him in with the first team. Maybe he can help us’.
“I already saw in pre-season with the schedule, the problems with the numbers in the squad. We decided to sign him because I think he can really contribute to the squad and today you have seen how massively important he can be.”
Fernandes’ first-time volley from Evans’ ball over the top was a moment of real quality in a game where Ten Hag knew United could not afford another slip-up after three losses in a row.
“This was a must-win and we knew that,” said the Dutchman, who had no complaints about the disallowed goal with Rasmus Hojland deemed to be offside and interfering in front of goalkeeper James Trafford.
“The team responded on the pitch. You could see the togetherness in the dressing room. It was a squad performance.”
Burnley are still looking for their first win following promotion back to the Premier League and have picked up only one point from their first five games.
But manager Vincent Kompany was pleased with the performance of his side, who hit the post in the first half through Zeki Amdouni and had several other good opportunities.
“We had two or three massive chances, really big,” said the Clarets’ boss. “The one from Jay Rod (Rodriguez) where he is controlling the ball in front of the keeper and then slices it, the one from (Jacob) Bruun Larsen, one-on-one with the keeper, just takes his touch a little bit too far.
“Then obviously the one from Zeki Amdouni that hits the post and rolls out. I don’t think you get many more big chances against a team like United. We have to take the positives from it and learn from the things we could do better.
“I am a rational mind, I thought 14 new players, and you see City, United, Chelsea, Newcastle, Aston Villa, Tottenham all within the first 10 games and you know this might be a difficult start but, if I look at the performance today, our moment will come.”