Ex- Manchester United defender Arthur Albiston has given his support to Patrice Evra after the French international has suffered almost non-stop criticism from many quarters over the past few years.
Albiston who played almost 500 games for the Reds in a nine-year career says the stick Evra has been getting is uncalled for and has backed United’s vice-captain to prove his doubters wrong and play a major part in United’s side this season.
Speaking to the Manchester Evening News, Albiston noted:
“Patrice has had a lot to deal with over the last couple of years and I think that has had an effect on his form, but he has the experience to handle the criticism and bounce back.
“He was at the centre of the problems in the France camp at the World Cup in 2010 when he was captain of his country. There was a mutiny and a big backlash in the country when they came home under a cloud.
“It wasn’t a healthy situation and Patrice was a big part of that. It can’t help.
“Last season there was the unfortunate Luis Suarez affair. Evra was impeccable with the way he dealt with that. Then, just when you thought it was over and done with, there was the non-handshake at Old Trafford from the Liverpool striker.
“The whole episode had dragged on and I think no matter how much you try to shut it out on the pitch, I think it does have an impact.
“I think there has been a hangover from both of those episodes and you have to admit his form has suffered.”
“Patrice’s age isn’t a problem. He’s a fit lad and hasn’t got an ounce of fat on him,”said Albiston.
“He is a very athletic guy and I don’t see any signs of that being a problem.
“He’s still fast enough to get beaten but to then catch up an opponent and recover.
“His pace over those 10-15 yards hasn’t deteriorated at all.
“Patrice has set very high standards and in some ways he is a player who you take for granted because he is always there, always available and always consistent.
“So when that form does dip slightly everyone jumps on the bandwagon and says it’s not like him. You just don’t expect it so it hits a bit harder. They look for reasons and think he’s on the slide.
“But he can attain the heights again that he’s reached in the past, I have no doubts about that.”
“Evra has always had competition because Fabio was there before he went to QPR on loan and Jonny Evans can play there.
“I don’t think there has been a lack of a challenger. But if having a new face come in does pep you up then all well and good.
“No matter how great a servant Patrice has been, everyone knows Sir Alex Ferguson doesn’t pick his team on sentiment. He may well have made the position his own but if his form doesn’t return then there is a chance Buttner could get a go.
“But I still think the new guy will have to be very patient because, even though it still hasn’t been a great start to the season by Patrice, I think he will find his level again.”
It still amazes me that so many United fans seem to think Evra is ‘past it’ or the reason for our woes, you only have to look online during or after any game to see the vitriolic nonsense aimed at the left back.
Take the Suarez affair as an example, while Liverpool fans rallied round their striker – somewhat misguidedly- many Reds simply shrugged off the toll it must’ve taken on Evra instead preferring to question his ability. Imagine being racially abused at work, then having people doubting whether you’re telling the truth and still be expected to do your job? Evra deserves praise for the dignity he showed and the fact he was willing- as always- to do his job on the pitch.
Sir Alex said of Evra only last month:
“Nobody has played more games than Evra over the last five years. He has played with injuries — he has guts.
“He has been up and down that touchline for five years. It’s 240 games he has played. Patrice has been an absolute soldier.”
The arrival of Alexander Buttner has already seen many fans claiming a player they’d never heard of a few weeks ago, is somehow the man to replace one of the best left backs in the country. Albiston summed it up himself when he added:
“Buttner is for the future and Patrice is still the man for the present.”
A sentiment I wholly believe in.
Am I wrong? Is Buttner the man to replace Pat now rather than later? Is Evra still mint? Answers below in a cordial fashion please ladies and gentlemen: