• Premier League

Evans admits he feared for United future

ESPN staff
March 27, 2012 « Carroll wanted to be like Gerrard | Chartbeat test »
Jonny Evans recently scored his first goal for Manchester United in the 5-0 thrashing of Wolves © PA Photos
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Manchester United's Jonny Evans has revealed a slump in form led to him adapting his game, with the defender admitting "if you let your standards drop you won't be here for long".

Evans has looked back to his best in recent months, standing out at the back as the Premier League leaders have contended with a string of defensive casualties, including losing captain Nemanja Vidic for the season in December.

Evans made his league debut for United in 2008 and did a commendable job when deputising for either Vidic or Rio Ferdinand. A dip in form followed, with many questioning his abilities as a top-level central defender.

However, the Northern Irishman, who has been a mainstay in United's back four for large parts of the season, said a change in his approach has been central to the upturn in his performances.

"I think I've just concentrated on playing football the way I know how," he told the club's official website. "Over the last couple of years I was trying to do things on the pitch that weren't me, like getting into physical battles when I'm not really one of the strongest defenders physically.

"I've always been more of a reader of the game and I think I maybe let that slip out of my own game. So I basically just went back and looked at what I was good at and concentrated on the things that came naturally to me."

One of Evans' best qualities is his ability to bring the ball out of defence, something that has been highlighted by manager Sir Alex Ferguson in recent weeks.

"I think it's always been a big strength of my game right from when I was a kid," Evans said. "I always thought it was a good attribute I could bring to the team but when I first broke in the main thing I wanted to do was concentrate on my defending. I thought if I did that well for a couple of years then the other things [like distribution] would come and this season I think I've managed to combine both."

With Chris Smalling's emergence and the arrival of highly-rated youngster Phil Jones, the competition for places at Old Trafford is fierce - not that Evans needs any reminding.

"Every season here is important. If you let your standards drop you won't be here for long because the standards set by the manager, the coaches, the players and the 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's what I've done."

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