Evra: I have always fought for my spot

Patrice Evra believes his critics who feel he has had an easy ride as Manchester United's left-back have very short memories.

Riether too slow....

Evra's form over the past 12 months has been the subject of intense debate.

Once regarded as the equal of Ashley Cole, the former Monaco man is no longer guaranteed his place for France.

Had he taken notice of such things, Evra would have seen the intense speculation at the start of the summer linking United manager Sir Alex Ferguson with a move for Everton's Leighton Baines.

In the end, nothing came of it. Yet Ferguson still secured the services of Alexander Buttner, who made a decent debut against Wigan last weekend on his debut after a switch from Dutch outfit Vitesse Arnhem.

It has been suggested Buttner's presence will, at the very least, force Evra to buck up his ideas.

The slight is one Evra rejects completely.

"I am not the kind of guy who reads the papers or goes on to the internet," he said.

"When I am not playing I just stay with my family so I wasn't aware of personal criticism.

"It is the first time I have heard that and I don't like it.

"But when I hear people say Patrice never had someone to fight him for his place I think they have bad memories.

"They forget very quickly how I got to become Manchester United's left-back. I fought with two great players in Gabriel Heinze and Mikael Silvestre."

The intensity of Evra's words are matched by the fierceness of his stare.

Whilst it is dubious the 31-year-old could really be unaware of the criticisms that have dogged him since that controversial 2010 World Cup campaign, when he was blamed for taking a major role in the unrest that surrounded Raymond Domenech, Evra cannot be questioned when he confirms the greatest critic he will ever face is himself.

"Football is like a pyramid," he said.

"It is easy to reach the top of the pyramid but to stay there is the hardest part.

"It is too easy for people to say that now we have bought another left back Patrice Evra will have to fight for his place. Patrice Evra has always fought for his place.

"If someone is there or not I will fight because you have to respect the shirt. When you play for Manchester United that is the big challenge."

And the demands are even greater following a season of failure.

The margin between triumph and disaster last season might have been one stoppage-time goal by Sergio Aguero, but to Evra it could just as well be a chasm.

And he is acutely aware that under such circumstances, Ferguson will be keeping a very close eye on those whose standards may be slipping.

"When you play for Manchester United any year you don't win the title you feel like you haven't done your job," he said.

"I am not special. If I end up on the bench it will be because I didn't play well. I accept that. Even if we lose I will always blame myself.

"This year the boss will give no presents to anybody. It should be difficult for him to pick his 11 players.

"Maybe last year there wasn't enough competition on every part of the pitch."

Even Ferguson accepted his side were not at their best in their 2-1 win over Liverpool at Anfield.

But in the brutal world of Premier League football, points are everything.

And with Robin van Persie's late penalty securing all three United have managed to bounce back from that opening day loss at Everton by reeling off four straight wins.

The sequence has allowed them to nestle in just behind leaders Chelsea, and open up a three-point gap on champions Manchester City.

"That result was a big statement from us," said Evra.

"The boss pointed out it had been four years since we won at Anfield and that we must win.

"I have been at Old Trafford six years and won the title four times. But to lose it in that manner last year was very painful.

"We don't want that to happen again this year."

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