Jonny Evans seems to be someone who takes quite a lot of unfair criticism from the media and opposing fans, and that seems to largely be on account of him not being Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic. That’s a tough juxtaposition for anyone though, those two are amongst the finest defenders of their generation.
Evans gave an interview to Manchester United’s official website this week, discussing his long-term future at the club having recently signed a new contract. Here’s his response to being asked about whether he sees himself as a ‘one-club man’:
I’d like to be. Obviously I’ve had my loan spells but I have come through the Academy here and now I’m in the first-team. When I was younger, clubs were asking me to go on trial from a young age and I never went on trial to another club. I just knew that Manchester United was the place I wanted to play football. So to play here throughout my career would be something I would look to do and I’d love to do it. But I can’t look too far ahead. I’m still only 25 so I’ll see where this takes me.
That’s one of the issues with the perception of Evans; his age isn’t accounted for. It’s a generalisation to say this of course, but centre-backs to tend to have their prime years later in their career – around 28-32 – and Evans is well on course to be an extremely capable performer.
Does he make mistakes? Does he occasionally have lapses in judgement and concentration? Of course, but players who don’t cough-up errors during the maturation process are the exception rather than the rule.
He’s a talented player, and that doesn’t get recognised enough – he’s already decent with the ball at his feet, and his reading of games and dangerous situations will inevitably improve over time. It’s not surprising that United have wrapped him up for the foreseeable future.
A lot is made of the midfield issues at Old Trafford, and that maybe overshadows the other strengths within the squad – the depth in the defence, for example. At left-back there’s trouble brewing, but in Chris Smalling, Evans, Phil Jones, and Rafael, they have a really strong core of young, defensive talent.