Sheffield United: Midfielder vows never to pull out of a tackle despite fears the game is going soft

Lee Evans believes tackling should be treated as an art-form: Simon Bellis/Sportimage
Lee Evans believes tackling should be treated as an art-form: Simon Bellis/Sportimage

Lee Evans has vowed not to curb his competitive instincts despite bemoaning the fact that tackling is no longer regarded as an art-form in the English game.

Technically proficient and possessing excellent positional sense, the Sheffield United midfielder has nevertheless impressed with a series of bone-crunching challenges since completing a January transfer from Wolverhampton Wanderers.

Although Evans’ determination to seize possession means he frequently walks a disciplinary tightrope during matches, the Wales international said: “Tackling has gone out of the game, it’s about staying on your feet. People are more worried about the technical side, passing and moving, rather than the big hits which we used to have.

“If the ball is there to be won, I will try and win it. There’s nothing wrong, in my mind at least, with doing that.”

The late Gary Speed, Evans compatriot and former United manager, frequently complained that youngsters are no longer taught how to seize possession correctly; insisting the majority of poor fouls stemmed from the fact tackling is no longer a subject in itself on academy programmes.

Evans, who has been selected for Wales’ forthcoming friendlies against China and Mexico, agreed when Speed’s comments were relayed to him earlier this month.

“I do think it’s something we should look at,” he continued. “After all, no matter what people believe, it’s still an important part of what we do. The trouble, I suppose, is that it’s not seen as fashionable. But there’s nothing wrong with a good challenge. I am six foot odd, a big lad, so I shouldn’t lose many tackles.”

Evans, aged 23, has quickly established himself as a key figure in a squad which, despite last weekend’s goalless draw with Nottingham Forest, is chasing Championship play-off qualification.

Insisting United’s approach suits his own style perfectly, he said: “The way we press high, we like to get in people’s faces, but then when we get the ball we like to pass

“We have the right mix here. Sometimes you make late tackles, misplace passes, but it’s about trying to mix them both together. That’s what we try and do and as far as I’m concerned, it’s the right thing to do as well.”