Patrice Evra grateful for arrival of Alexander Buttner at Manchester United

Left-back thankful for competition

Patrice Evra owes a debt of gratitude to Alexander Buttner for restoring him back to top form.

For the majority of last summer, Manchester United were heavily linked with Everton's Leighton Baines in the belief Sir Alex Ferguson was looking for reinforcements at left-back.

Evra's form had dipped, despite him topping the United appearance charts last term when he played 47 times, and the theory went that Ferguson was preparing to unload the 31-year-old, who moved to Old Trafford from Monaco in January 2006.

However, Evra has responded in superb fashion.

His four goals this season is a personal best and, in claiming a fifth assist to set up Wayne Rooney for the winner against Southampton last night, he was matched the number David Silva accumulated in Manchester City's Premier League title-winning campaign.

"I love it when people start to doubt me and think, 'Maybe Patrice might lose his place', because it makes me think, 'Okay, we will see'," Evra told Inside United.

"I remember when Alex arrived and he scored against Wigan and people started to say, 'Pat might lose his place'.

"I have been challenged by Heinze, Silvestre....sometimes you need that.

"I will always try to help Alex to become a better player because I have more experience and can help him do things better for United.

"But on a selfish point I am happy with that challenge, because I know I will have to fight every time to get my place on the team."

Evra agrees with those who claim this has been the Frenchman's best campaign for United.

Certainly that goalscoring statistic is beyond question.

Yet, for a player who started out as a winger back home in France before moving into a defensive role, it seems to have been a long time coming.

"I don't really understand why I have only scored goals this year," said Evra.

"I have been frustrated every year that I have not scored more often.

"For a player of my qualities I should score every season.

"I don't know why this year it has happened but I feel whenever I touch the ball in the box it could go in."

PA

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