Jonny Evans acknowledges that he needs to raise his game this season or risk being offloaded by Manchester United next summer.
The Northern Ireland international has been a regular feature in Sir Alex Ferguson's plans for the last three seasons, with the Red Devils having offered a number of youngsters an opportunity to impress and stake a claim for a starting berth.
Evans has looked assured in the Old Trafford spotlight, but admits that his standards dipped slightly last term.
He is aware that he cannot afford any further wobbles, with Ferguson demanding the very best from his side every time they take to the field.
Evans is pleased with how his 2011/12 campaign has started, as he has helped to cover injuries to Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, but he knows he must remain at that level if he is to avoid the axe.
"Of the three seasons since I came back from Sunderland, the last one was my most difficult," said the 23-year-old.
"I didn't hit the form I wanted. I went away and thought maybe I have another year, if I had another season like that I am sure the manager wouldn't want me around.
"I wasn't playing consistently to a good enough standard for Manchester United so I have gone back to basics and worked hard."
Evans was confident he would get that extra year and Ferguson would not make a snap judgement based on a single poor season.
The summer departures of Wes Brown and John O'Shea to Sunderland were a further hint in that direction, although Evans realises he cannot afford to take anything for granted.
"The manager never said anything to me and I never went to see him," he said.
"I was pretty confident the manager wouldn't get rid of me. I have always thought he has a bit of faith in me. Maybe you do have the odd doubt but I thought it would have been unfair if I had left, considering the two seasons I had before.
"Last year wasn't a total disaster. There were times when I did feel good and others where I felt I needed that level of consistency every week.
"I was on holiday when I heard John and Wes were in talks with Sunderland and would be leaving.
"It did make me think there was room but no matter who the manager gets rid of, or signs, there are so many players who can step into so many different positions it is crazy.
"If you are not in his plans he will move you on. If you are here you have a great chance of being involved."