Jay McEveley has revealed the overwhelming pressure he felt after joining Sheffield United earlier this season, writes James Shield.
But the former Swindon Town defender, who last night insisted that helping Nigel Clough’s side gain promotion would be the “greatest achievement” of his career, told The Star he is now “really settled” at Bramall Lane.
McEveley said: “I felt I had to win over the fans when I came here because we get 20,000 every week and I know how demanding they are. I felt like I had something to prove even though I’d played around 350 games in my career.
“I’m loving it here though. I’m really enjoying it, really settled.
“I drive through from home with Higgy (Michael Higdon) and stay over a few times a week. I feel much happier in myself.”
McEveley, from Liverpool, is again expected to anchor United’s defence when the host Preston North End in a pivotal League One encounter today. Despite being signed a s full-back, the 29-year-old has excelled after being deployed in a more central role.
“I’m really enjoying myself at centre-half and, at my age, I think it suits because I’m no Ashley Cole,” McEveley added. “People always said that’s where I’d end up and although it’s come a little bit earlier than expected, if someone asked me now what I am, I’d say a centre-half.”
Sixth placed United are 12 points behind North End in third but McEveley said: “If we can get on a roll then people will be coming to our place and thinking ‘whooah.’
“I remember last year, when I was at Swindon, we played United and although it wasn’t a feeling of fear, we knew what a mighty club this is, and that they were on a real run. We just knew how tough it was going to be.
“We won but, in fairness, United deserved to get the result. I seem to remember Conor (Coady) missing a couple of chances. But that was the feeling in the Swindon dressing room back then.
“I don’t think we’re far away now from going on a real run.”
“It’s a lovely feeling as a player when you have that feeling of being unbeatable,”he added. “The lads obviously had that last year.
“But we’re confident because of the performances, there are no gripes there.
“It’s just coming down to putting the ball in the back of the net a little bit more and stopping sloppy goals. We’re not killing teams off when we’re on top.
“But, the way the gaffer works, especially with emphasis on fitness, I think we’ll really come on strong in the second half of the season. Teams with lesser squads will start to dwindle but we can kick on with the size of the squad and the conditioning of the lads here.”