Flair of the dog as Ched justifies fee

Settled: Ched Evans looks a different player after setting up home with his girlfiend and his pet dogs
Settled: Ched Evans looks a different player after setting up home with his girlfiend and his pet dogs

“YOU can hunt with dogs,” Jose Mourinho opined recently. “And you can hunt with cats. But not to the same effect.”

Even Micky Adams, who described the Sheffield United job as “the best in the world” soon after his appointment, would concede the Bernabéu inhabits a different footballing universe to Bramall Lane. But, when it comes to the influence strikers can exert over a team’s fortunes, the principle remains the same.

Despite failing to win a game since taking charge of the club he has supported since childhood last month, Adams reports “encouraging signs” when assessing their battle for Championship survival.

One of those is the form of Ched Evans who, having initially failed to justify his £ 3million price tag, has spent the past few weeks producing the type of performances which a year and a half ago persuaded United to spend big when prising him away from Manchester City. According to the player himself, a change of approach off the pitch has helped improve his fortunes on it.

“Things are a lot more settled at home now,” Evans told The Star. “I’ve moved out of my flat in the city centre and now I’m living out at Penistone. It’s much better there.

“At my old place, it was too busy - students coming back from bars and waking me up at all hours. I don’t get that now.

“My girlfriend has moved in and I just feel a lot more settled. I think that’s definitely helped my game.”

Returning to the canine theme, Evans is not the only one reaping the benefits of his move to the country. While Adams will be heartened by the Wales international’s return in front of goal - five in the last eight games - the family pets are enjoying a new lease of life too.

“I love dogs,” said Evans. “Ever since I was a kid we’ve had them around.

“The ones I’ve got are hunting ones - whippets, Patterdales and terriers. I can take them for long walks now if I’ve got nothing on. That’s good for them and it’s good for me too. Rather than just sitting on my backside, bored on the sofa, I’m getting out and about and doing something active.”

Barring injury or illness, Evans is expected to spearhead United’s attack when Leicester City head north on Tuesday. Despite refusing to make light of their predicament towards the bottom of the table - “We’re in a fight” - Evans echoes Adams’ sentiments about United’s future prospects.

“We know we need to get some results,” he said. “I’m not going to deny the situation we’re in but there are plenty of games left and so we’re not going to panic either.

“That wouldn’t be the right thing to do.”