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Pragmatic Evra happy to forgo Christmas cheer for title charge

PATRICE EVRA is happy to forgo the Christmas festivities in the hunt for more silverware at Manchester United.

It is seven years since Evra left Monaco for Old Trafford.

The move has been worthwhile given Evra has pocketed four Premier League titles and a Champions League trophy during his stay in England.

He is well placed to land another championship gong this season too, given United are now seven points clear heading into tomorrow's encounter with West Bromwich Albion.

So, despite ploughing his way through a glut of fixtures at a time when most of his European counterparts are putting their feet up, Evra is not complaining.

"It is really funny," the 31-year-old said. "People ask me what I am going to do at Christmas. I ask them if they are being serious?

"I have been here for seven years. I am used to not celebrating Christmas and New Year and going to the hotel instead. It is normal.

"It is not easy. When I was in France we had seven days off. We could go away with our families and have a holiday.

"Mentally, I think you need that week to be more fresh at the end of the season.

"In England it is different. It is not easy to deal with but I will enjoy it when I retire."

Wednesday's goalscoring appearance against Newcastle was Evra's 313th for United, underlining the consistency he has shown under Ferguson.

Yet, after a wretched debut, when he was substituted at half-time during a 3-1 hammering by Manchester City, Evra could barely imagine staying seven months rather than seven years.


"I didn't think I would be here for seven years after I had played in that game," said Evra.

"But that is the love of the club and the Premier League.

"I always say I am lucky to be here, to be playing for Manchester United.

"Let's see how many years I am here. It is just a dream."

Given Ferguson's preference for team rotation over the Christmas period, it would be no surprise if Alexander Buttner was selected for tomorrow's game.

Darren Fletcher and Tom Cleverley are likely to start, while Ashley Young and Phil Jones are expected to recover from minor knocks.

West Brom have not won at Old Trafford since 1978 but with United's defensive frailties so obvious, Steve Clarke's men will fancy their chances of emulating a side that contained Cyrille Regis, Laurie Cunningham and Brendon Batson.