Sunday, 1 April 2012

Evans Gives Up On Being A Manchester United Hardman

Jonny Evans is winning the battle to be Manchester United's number one defender after giving up the fight to be a Premier League hard man.

The Belfast born star is finally fulfilling his massive potential after two years of bouncing in and out of the Reds line-up.

And Evans puts that down to the day he sat down, analysed his game and worked out exactly where was going wrong.

He said: ``Over the past couple of years I was trying to do things on the pitch that wasn't me.

``I was getting into physical battles when I'm not one of the strongest defenders around.

``I've always been more of a reader of the game and I think I let that slip out of my own game.

``So basically I just went back and looked at what I was good at, and concentrated on the things that come naturally to me.''

The decision to take a critical approach to his game has paid off with boss Alex Ferguson recently going public with his praise for the defender.

More importantly to Evans is Fergie's continual use of his skills ahead of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones - players many felt were brought in to replace him.

It is his ability to bring the ball out of defence that has so impressed the Scot and made him a crucial part of the Reds title challenging team.

Evans added: ``I think it has always been a big strength of my game, right from when I was a kid.

``I always felt it was a good attribute I could bring to the team but when I first broke in to the team the main thing I wanted to concentrate on was my defending.

``I thought that if I did that well for a couple of years then the other parts of my game would come and this season I think I have managed to combine both.''

But despite starting 22 of United's 30 Premier League games this season - and scoring his first goal for the Reds - Evans is still looking over his shoulder.

He has been here before, four seasons ago, when he returned from a loan stint at Sunderland and became a regular fixture at the back, filling in for Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic.

His top class performances in the Premier League and Europe suggested he was set to dominate the defence at Old Trafford for a decade.

But dips in form saw Fergie lose faith in him and Evans has been fighting his way back into the Scot's good books ever since.

He said: ``If you let your standards drop you won't be here for long because the standards set by the manager, coaches, players and fans are so high.

``Everyone has periods in their career when they have dips in form and I'm no different.

``It's just about accepting that and trying to do something about it. That is what I have done.''

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