Date: 22nd October 2011 at 11:50am
Written by:
Jonny Evans

Another whipping boy for many Reds

Jonny Evans has come in for some stick from a small section of United fans this season- mainly via the interweb rather than at matches.

Despite some Reds misgivings many United fans realise that Evans, on his day, is a world-class defender who could have a long future at the heart of our back four.

The Northern Irish defender has enjoyed a somewhat indifferent campaign last season, but his recent performances have been among some of his best in a Red shirt.

What’s refreshing is that Evans is willing to admit his faults and knows what he needs to be aiming for.

The Manchester Evening News notes: Jonny Evans was enduring a Premier League exile this time 12 months ago but now he is seriously contesting a place in Sunday’s derby against Manchester City.

The Northern Ireland international defender suffered a traumatic slump in form last ­season.

A poor display at Bolton first cost him his place in Sir Alex Ferguson’s side. Then last November’s Carling Cup shocker at West Ham knocked him back once again.

His opportunities were then few and between and a subsequent red card against Bolton at Old Trafford only further added to his campaign of misery.

After two seasons when the young Irishman was hailed by Fergie as Rio Ferdinand’s long term successor, Evans’ football world was suddenly turned upside down.

But now the 23-year-old is fighting back. He’s made seven starts this term and could have been a permanent fixture but for an injury.

Evans admits his first two seasons in the Reds’ first team possibly affected his focus.

“If you looked over the years, a lot of youngsters have come into the team and had a good season or two, then take a little dip. Sometimes you do think you are immune from it,” said Evans.

“Maybe I took my eye off the ball a little bit. Maybe I relaxed a bit too much and thought it was going to come as easily as the previous two seasons.

“All of a sudden it hits you. You have to regroup and have a word with yourself. I have enough people around me who are happy to bring me down to earth. My family and friends do that.

“I have friends who would say: ‘You didn’t play too well today’. I might have thought they were being cheeky at the time but they are right. They will tell you.

“Sometimes you have to take on board what the people closest to you say. You have to be honest with yourself as well.

“I feel more assured now. When you go through a stage of not playing well, there is a bit of pressure on you and you can feel sometimes the crowd are maybe getting on your back – you think: ‘Stuff it, what have I got to lose?’ You go out there relax, play your football and go home.

“A lot of players coming to  United can struggle. I have never been one to shirk a challenge. Whenever things are tough, I always feel as though I can respond and not hide away.”

Some of the criticism levelled at Evans by Reds beggars belief at times, far from being a ‘liability’ the former academy player is a class act and has taken his first team chances well this season.


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