Manchester United were eliminated from the Europa League at the hands of Athletic Bilbao on Thursday night, and some of the players issued a rally cry in the press following that disappointing exit.
Patrice Evra and David de Gea both claimed after the match that the club must win the Premier League following their exit from the Europa League. De Gea simply said that the league is a must now, while Evra issued the warning that it would be "a really bad season" if they fail to win this final piece of potential silverware.
Given the lofty expectations for a club like United, he is probably correct. However, all this talk means nothing if the players do not back it up with their performances.
Evra in particular has been one of the club's primary underachievers this season. Having been handed the captain's armband with Nemanja Vidic injured, it is good to see Evra try to inspire with his words, but he should be leading by example as well.
This is Evra's biggest shortcoming as captain. How can he expect his teammates to make the final push from the Premier League title when he is one of the weak links in the squad? He cannot. Statements about the necessity of winning the Premier League are simply not enough at this point.
Enough talk. Now is the time to perform. Let contributions on the pitch do the talking.
Complacency has plagued the club throughout the season. Talking does not magically make that problem disappear. Following other disappointing results this season, the players issued similar encouraging statements acknowledging their poor performance and the need to improve.
The performances have improved for a few games after such interviews, only for another disappointing performance to occur just a few weeks later.
Have Manchester United backed up their talk on the pitch this season?
Disappointing results will happen. It is to be expected, even at a club like United. The supporters can cope with losing, but if the players promise to improve, they need to fulfill that vow. Too often these poor performances involve the same sloppy mistakes.
Complacency and lack of concentration are reoccurring themes. If they acknowledge the problem, as they have, then they need to find a solution.
This group of players has the ability to improve, but do they have the determination to follow through and achieve Premier League glory this season? That is the worrisome issue here—that the players are talking, but not putting in the required effort to take the squad to the next level.
These PR-friendly statements may keep some fans happy, but they want to see them follow through on the pitch. No more talk. Enough empty promises. All talking from this point on need be done only on the pitch.
There is a Premier League title to be won. Now is the time to follow through on all that talk.