Jonny Evans knows Manchester United can afford no slip-ups at Carrow Road tomorrow before they travel to Tottenham.

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“These next two games are massive,” he said. “Every week we seem to be saying it but we are away from home and have an international in between, which is not great preparation.

“We have to keep the pressure on. The gap between us and City is only two points, which is nothing.

“You never feel you are in control. I am sure they don’t. One slip and it all changes.”

Evans believes it was a good thing David de Gea could barely speak any English when he arrived at Manchester United because it stopped him being exposed to all that harsh criticism he came in for.

De Gea has yet to dispel all the doubts about him. The 21-year-old’s slender frame still appears inadequate to cope with the rougher edges of being a Premier League keeper.

Indeed, had it not been for the ankle injury that has ruled Anders Lindegaard out for an indefinite period, De Gea might still be struggling to reclaim the first-team berth Sir Alex Ferguson gave him following an £18million summer move from Atletico Madrid.

However, as each game passes, De Gea shows unquestionable signs of quality.

On Thursday night at Old Trafford he produced a reaction save which denied Siem de Jong a second half goal that could easily have condemned United to an embarrassing Europa League exit, despite taking a three-goal advantage against Ajax.

And, as his command of English improves, so De Gea is making his presence felt inside the dressing room, those dodgy early performances in the Community Shield and at West Brom now becoming increasingly rare.

“Probably it was a good thing David couldn’t speak English at the start,” said Evans. “It seemed like he was coming into training and nothing was affecting him. He was just getting on with his game. But it was because he couldn’t read or understand what was going on around him. Overall, that was probably better.

“Now his presence is building. The language barrier is being broken down and he is coming out of his shell a bit.

“He has a joke now and is not afraid of getting involved in some of the dressing room chat. That is settling him down.”

There have been difficult days. New Year’s Eve’s home defeat to Blackburn was a low point and De Gea did not exactly cover himself in glory at Anfield last month when United went crashing out of the FA Cup. However, the good is starting to outweigh the negatives as De Gea starts to show the form that has already been in evidence on the training ground.

“David had a big price tag when he came to us during the summer,” said Evans. “People had these huge expectations. From day one, his shot stopping has been unbelievable. He pulls off saves that are amazing.

“He just needed a bit of confidence. I am sure everyone at Manchester United has been through stages when it has not gone well. Then it is down to your character to pull you through.”

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