The Unsung Hero Johnny Evans

When Vidic got stretchered off the pitch on that damned night in Basle, I thought to myself, “There goes our chance of winning the Premier League

I knew we had the likes of Jones and Smalling waiting to get their chance in central defence but I just didn’t see any of them filling the huge void left by the stricken Serbian. There was also Evans, at whom I was still angry after the Manchester derby fiasco. In fact I overlooked him as a candidate to fill the gap left by Vidic.

Any team in the world, including Barcelona, would miss Nemanja Vidic. He’s world class and, although his passes aren’t as good as Rio’s, his grit makes him one of the best in the world. Seriously, I wouldn’t trade Nemanja for any other defender there is out there.  I simply love our captain. Oh, and I’m aware that the upcoming season might be his last in the red of United.

One of Johnny's Handful of Low Points Last Year
During those dark December days, I mumbled to myself, “How on earth are we coping defensively if our Serbian, who could “fuckin murder ya”, will be out for the season?”  So in comes Johnny Evans. Even the name doesn’t instil fear. I mean, compare the name Johnny to Nemanja! He’s nowhere near Vidic when it comes to strength but he’s been one heck of an asset for our side this year. Two years ago we saw what this young Northern Irish bloke promised. Last year most of us (including me, I admit) got on his back and questioned his ability. Let’s be honest, he was shit. This year our Johnny has silenced his critics with one composed display after the other. Heck, he’s even overshadowing the ‘classy’ Rio Ferdinand! There’s no question that he has improved, although to be honest, it would not have taken him much effort to improve on last season. I’ve seen some stats the other day and, this season in the premier league, we’ve only lost once when Johnny started the game. I genuinely believe that that is no coincidence. Up until a few months ago I still wasn’t sure about Evans. In fact I’d utter the word “shit” as soon as I saw his name in the starting XI (as far as I’m concerned, I obviously still supported him in public). Fast-forward to this present day and now, when I see Evans’ name on the starting line up, I honestly don’t care. That speaks heaps of his improvement during the past months. When looking at our usual back four, I can safely say that he has become the most consistent defender at United.

He’s improved his aerial challenges as well as his positioning. The former is of huge importance given the fact that we had a young Spaniard in goal getting troubled by high balls in the penalty area. However, his composure on the ball is by far the most evident improvement on last season. This season, when he gets the ball he looks out for someone to pass to. Last year he used to clear the ball away without aiming it at anybody in particular... even when under no pressure. 

Derby Day Sending Off
As much as I like Jones, I’d have to admit that he’s still not ready to play in central defence on a weekly basis. Smalling is a good defender but I’d rather see him play as a full-back while, when fit, Rio is an automatic starter. Until the end of the season, there should be one player who plays alongside Rio and that is Evans. That goal last Sunday was a testament to his improvement. He looks like he’s enjoying his football and I guess he has worked hard for that. Last year I wouldn’t have dreamt of saying Evans will someday be pivotal in our side but I’m about to say that now; he’s been immense and I hope he stays fit to help us win a record extending 20th title. Whatever happens between now and the end of the season, I’ll never doubt Evans’ abilities again. Fergie has made a blunder or two in his time at United. Last year I might have thought that keeping playing a young Johnny Evans, who was evidently lacking confidence, was one huge error. This year I’m willing to put my hands up and admit that I was mightily wrong. Obviously, a lot of people might have already passed judgement on him last season and will overlook his contribution this year. However, I see a player brimming with confidence who could do United proud. Well played Johnny lad! 
His first goal in the red of United


Anonymous said…
SPOT ON. Cannot agree more

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