In defence of Jonny Evans

Jonny Evans

Having been drubbed by West Ham, there is an ever-growing concern amongst United fans. The defence. As Sir Alex said moments after that game, United have been culpable of conceding “terrible goals”, and “are too soft”, and that has, of course, been the case for most of the season. Since the return of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic things have improved; but when both are absent like they were Tuesday night, United’s back four seem to capitulate.  The reason could be simply that there is a gap in everything: experience, quality, confidence and that some, like Jonny Evans and Fabio da Silva are just incredibly naive.

Yet, as we’ve come to expect as Manchester United fans, with defeats and everything that comes along with it, there are scapegoats to be made. And unsurprisingly, in the aftermath of that 4-0 defeat, it was in the shape of Jonny Evans. Singled out for what was an awful performance in which defensive lapses were common, Evans has found himself under much scrutiny. While some of it understandable, blaming him for the misfortunes of arguably the best club in the country against a team rock-bottom in the Premier League, it is not all justified.

At 23, many of Evans’ colleague’s had not hit the big time as quick as he has and had not been as fast-tracked to such competitive football already. There are plenty of examples to be had of players at his age, such as Nemanja Vidic, Fabio Cannavaro and Carles Puyol, that took a while to develop into what they are today. There are also players such as Lillian Thuram, Ricardo Carvalho and Alessandro Nesta who, when blowing the last of their 23 birthday candles, were growing in stature at clubs of a similar to that of Manchester United’s level, but it took, for them, a few more years to become more established and recognised around the world. Get off Evans’ back is the message, here, because he has not yet hit his peak and will continue to improve.

Defenders require a rhythm and Evans is struggling to get that at the moment. No, he won’t play every game and that is why fans must remain patient with him. There is no doubting his talent and potential, and so, even after a couple of sub-standard performances, we must remain faithful of what the Irishman has to offer the club. He’s endured a difficult start to the season, in contrast to the last where he flourished. But with every player in a bad patch, there are problems that needs addressing and can’t always be put down to something as simple as ‘being in bad form’.

It has become a concern to United how frequently Evans is losing battles aerially and his inability to deal with the physical nature of the Premier League at times. That is not such a problem right now as United have plenty of alternatives. They have Wes Brown and Chris Smalling in addition to Vidic and Ferdinand, and there’s talk of Evans being dropped into the reserve side to dig himself out of this mini-crisis. That’s all good – as long as it achieves this: a return to form by Jonny Evans and a timely reminder that there are very few chances to be had at Old Trafford. But with his all his talents, any talk of being offloaded, Evans should dismiss that as nonsense. Because he, more than anyone, knows that he has a lot more to offer than the occasional lapse in concentration…

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9 responses to “In defence of Jonny Evans”

  1. JY_MUFC says :

    Absolutely agree, last season Jonny was a saviour and some people were saying that Rio would be his back up – highly unlikely but that was one stream of thought. He cant have lost that ability and potential since then – it is more likely that the infrequency of his appearances is what is affecting his decision making.

    I still think that in a few years time our back 4will be Rafael – Smalling – Evans – fabio

  2. jaymotty says :

    People forget that Evans was once considered the brighter prospect between him and Pique in certain quarters. He’s a quality player but as you noted something needs addressing soon, as this level of performance cannot continue to be accepted.

  3. redflagflying says :

    Typical Blogger response to go against the general consensus to provoke reaction or to be proved revolutionary. Jonny Evans is not United quality. The best bit is he came onto the scene around the time we lost Pique to Barcelona.

    Loan deal may work but try to tie in a fee. He could become another o’shea in that he is always involved in the squad without having any good performances.

    • Champchamp says :

      Totally agree. Evans is a “sissy” who is bullied this season as opposition managers sussed his guts out and discover he is as strong as the Irish Bank of Manchester.

  4. aaramz says :

    Nice piece.

    Think Evans need just his confidence back. When United set that record of 14 games without conceiding two seasons ago Jonny played an important part, and he looked very confident then. I have no doubt he’ll come around cos he’s such a good young player.

  5. Peter says :

    Jonny has been fast tracked yes but shouldnt that have had a huge impact on his game.this boy has been given the chance to play on the bigger stage and what has he learnt??nothing..how do you get turned by a striker the way he got done.it was smalling doing o the work back there..

    let us not only blame jonny or any other player fergie made a mess of things.his decision to play bebe and leav macheda who obviously needs games under his belt leaves alot to b desired..bebe is not ready so y rush him?

  6. The Gaffer says :

    JY_MUFC: I agree with you 100%, and good to see some optimism – that back four could be a force to be reckoned with in a couple of years’ time, fingers crossed.

    jaymotty: Good point; agree with you there 😉

    redflagflying: Interesting comment, however, one I obviously disagree with. If he does become another O’Shea, then good, because that’ll mean he stays put at the club for a long time yet. What you fail to recognise is what happens on the pitch; both Evans and O’Shea have had their share of great performances in the red shirt…albeit rarely this season. Keep the ‘red flag flying’ as your name suggests – and part of doing that is supporting your players. And, oh, I wrote this not to gain hits (well…) but because I’m a lover of Evans’ work.

    aaramz: Excellent point. Keep the faith!

    Peter:
    I urge you to give him time. Being fast-tracked doesn’t necessarily mean ‘life is a walk in the park’, it could be completely opposite. I’m just saying there has been a lot of pressure applied onto him, which is unfair for a 23 year old.

  7. redflagflying says :

    Never said it was written to gain hits but to do what all blogheads do and go against general consensus. My comments about o shea were not meant to be complimentary. How his name fails to get mentioned in summer transfers is beyond me. He has stayed under the radar being mr versatile while basically he is a jack of all trades master of none. Evans for me lack the backbone to take this criticism and apply to improving his game. Flying a flag can also mean occasionally flying the white flag to surrender.

    We need surrender any hopes we have of Evans being a top European defender and ship him out.

  8. The Gaffer says :

    Champchamp: Obviously disagree, but your opinion.

    redflagflying: Feels like this could be one of those ‘it could go on all day’ debates, so I’ll just say we’ve a difference in opinion. You’re no fan of either of the two Jonnies, I am. However, stop by the blog more often; maybe you’ll find something to agree on soon…

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