Evans welcomes return to form
Evans at least provided himself with a platform to build on with an effective display in Wednesdaynight's 1-0 win over Rangers at Ibrox. United have still to concede a goal in the competition this term and will hope to complete a defensive clean sheet when they tackle Valencia at Old Trafford on December 7, knowing achieving that aim in itself will seal their status as Group C winners. For Evans, it was the first step towards recapturing the form that had him installed as an automatic choice to replace Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic, whenever Sir Alex Ferguson was without one of his star central defensive duo. "I don't know why I wasn't performing well earlier in the season," admitted the Northern Ireland international. "Last year I had a stop-start time and got one or two injuries when I was in the side. "I wasn't at my best for about six months. I was making decisions and thinking 'I would never have done that in the past'. "I have tried not to worry about it too much. I just got on with it and hoped everything would come back." Crucially, Evans retained the full support of Sir Alex Ferguson. Although the 22-year-old had to endure what was for him, the unique experience of being left out of the United line-up purely on form grounds, and was overtaken by new arrival Chris Smalling in the first-team pecking order, Evans knew Ferguson had faith the performance dip was temporary. "I haven't been thinking of it as a chance to re-establish myself because the manager has always had faith in me, which is important," he said. "It is just a case of getting my own personal confidence back." Some valuable lessons have been learned along the way. Educated and intelligent, Evans was happy to fuel his knowledge by digesting stories written about him. It seems that is no longer the case. "I don't read any articles about myself now and I do feel a lot more comfortable," he said. "At the start of the season, we were conceding a lot of goals. "People like to point a finger and being a young lad, it sometimes comes down to you. "I tried not to let it affect me but there were one or two instances, such as when I gave away a penalty against Liverpool, that were highlighted." It is a reminder to Evans of the interest that surrounds United and how every facet of the club is examined in minute detail. As a leading figure for his country, any news about Evans is magnified in Northern Ireland. Yet the Belfast-born player recognises what he goes through is only a fraction of the intrigue Wayne Rooney must cope with on a daily basis. "When you see what has happened to Wayne, it does remind you how intense the spotlight at Manchester United is," he said. "Everyone's eyes are on you, no matter what. "It is something that comes with being at a club like this. "You can't afford to let it get to you and in fairness, I don't think I have. "I haven't moaned about not being in the team. I have just worked as hard as always to get back in. In fact I have probably worked harder. "Hopefully I will get the rewards for that in future." In all likelihood, the next opportunity Evans might get is in Tuesday's Carling Cup quarter-final at West Ham, and after that, against Valencia. Vidic and Ferdinand are set to return when United tackle Blackburn at Old Trafford on Saturday looking for a victory that would allow them to leapfrog above Chelsea, who are not in action for another 24 hours. In fact, it could be a completely different defence as Patrice Evra only made the substitutes' bench last night, whilst Ferguson will also hope to have Darren Fletcher available after a minor injury prevented him making a rare appearance on Scottish soil.