It is hard to fool a Manchester United supporter – especially those who are under 25 years old that realistically have never witnessed a bad spell at the club. Yes, of course you can mention the ‘Djemba-Djemba’ era, but in all fairness – even within that bad patch, United remained within the top two or three sides domestically, competed in European competition, won cups, ran out in showpiece games, and still enjoyed success most clubs could only dream of.
Manchester United supporters can sniff out a fake within minutes; We all remember William Prunier, right? No? Well more recently the Old Trafford faithful have witnessed the efforts and failures of such players as Liam Miller, Kleberson, David Bellion and the extremely popular, but not very good, Bebe.
So where does Johnny Evans fit in at United? asks Nathon Woodhead Twitter: @Nathonw
Over the last year or so, the emergence of Johnny Evans has been significantly great. He has benefitted from a longer run in the first team than ever before, he has started ahead of Rio Ferdinand in important matches and he has found the best form of his career; but for many fans, pundits and football experts, the jury is still out.
Evans is a big lad and wins 99% of aerial challenges; he posses good technical ability and like any good modern central defender, can pass a ball. His decision making has improved as has his communication – I have always been of the opinion that Johnny Evans is a confidence player, and if United do not concede while he is on the pitch, he will be even better in the next game; so after seeing red against Stuart Holden of Bolton last season, or seeing red in the infamous 6-1 drubbing at home to Manchester City this season, I have been pleasently surprised, as have all of the twitter warriors that love a scapegoat or two, that ‘big Jonny’ has come back stronger.
An Arsenal fan once mockingly asked, “If Johnny Evans is the answer, what is the question” sparking debate that the tall defender is one from the ‘Fergie List’. For those unfamilier with the ‘Fergie List’ – it is apparently full of below average players who command praise simply because they play for Manchester United – and had they move club, they would instantly get found out to be your ‘run of the mill’ footballer.
2011-2012 has seen Manchester United compete domestically, but come unstuck in two European competitions by teams that would not even fall into ‘Europes Mediocre’ let alone ‘Europes Finest’.
Of course Evans isn’t to blame, but does anybody realistically think when Fernando Llorente stepped out onto the pitch, he shook in his boots at the thought of facing Evans? Or did he see it as an opportunity to face an average defender riding his luck playing for a massive club, that will lose his place in the side as soon as Nemanja Vidic is fit?
I think the score of this tie, and the performance of Llorente answer this question.
Manchester United are currently in transition. Players who should have moved, didn’t; players who did retire, came back; youthful players are breaking into the side and of course Ferguson has dipped into the transfer market and picked up some exceptional young talent that will take time to find their feet at a club of this size.
Give it two seasons max – and United will be strolling to the semi finals or the elite European competitions as they have been for the last 15 seasons. Of course every five or six years United do fail to meet the high standards set, but it always coincides with the building of a new squad, the lack of competiton domestically, and of course – working out who is world class and who is winging it and getting away with being bailed out by his team mates week in, week out.
I believe Johnny Evans is a good footballer, with a future at Manchester United – but as a bit part player. If United want to win the European Cup, it simply will not happen with Evans as a regular.
Yes he is having the best season of his career and has been our best defender, but lets face it – being our best defender this season hasn’t been a hard thing to do.
Of course Johnny Evans will ‘do a job’ against the Wolves, Wigans and Aston Villa’s of this world – but against a Barcelona, Real Madrid or Bayern Munich – no chance. It will simply be a step to far for the man from Northern Ireland.