Manchester United‘s 2-0 win over Everton, which takes them 12 points clear at the top of the Premier League table was a composed and all-round impressive performance.
If you are to pick the stand out individuals from the win, there are several; Nemanja Vidic, Ryan Giggs, Rafael, Robin Van Persie, but also Jonny Evans.
And it suddenly came to my mind, that Evans has began to consistently perform and play a vital part in United’s defence and that there is little doubt in his ability. Yes, I’m sure some will argue that they have recognized this for sometime, but I think at last, the majority of people can agree that Evans finally looks like a Manchester United quality of player – week in week out.
Now aged 25, the Northern Ireland center-back has in the past perhaps been thrown in the deep end, due to injuries with Rio Ferdinand and Vidic, but now there is little to no anxiety or concerns at all when a United team sheet reads the name Jonny Evans.
He’s developed into a stronger, more confident and definitely more organized defender. More attention seems to be paid to the details in his game, and there is barely any evidence of the mistakes he had made in the past – even last season against the likes of Athletic Bilbao.
Sir Alex Ferguson clearly has absolute trust in Evans, like most of his squad. Which gives fans and myself the impression that Evans is a truly capable defender, and any still existing apprehension comes from dark memories of the past. Ferguson has started Evans more times this season than Vidic and also more than Chris Smalling and Phil Jones (albeit these three have been out with injuries at various points).
It would come as mere surprise to me if Evans is picked in the side to face Real Madrid on Wednesday, Ferguson stated last year;
“There is no doubt he has been helped playing alongside the experience of Rio and he is now arguably the best defender in the country. Together they have been rock solid to give us great consistency in defense with Patrice Evra, our captain these days, always a live-wire at left-back and with young Rafael maturing rapidly on the other flank.
But it’s also the added authority in Evans’ game of late that makes me sure that if the more commonly preferred partnership of Ferdinand and Vidic is unavailable, he is more than a suitable alternative.
Having come from United’s academy around the age of 12, and with several years still left on his contract, he has a passion for the club which currently is running straight through the squad’s spine. Evans’ performances this season have made it hard to dish out criticism, Ok, United definitely struggled at the back, early on in the season, but that seemed to be a collective lack of understanding rather than an individual at fault.
Evans clearly thrives when placed beside a more experienced partner, in either Ferdinand or Vidic. But he too is rapidly producing connotations and a reputation of trust that makes that United squad look all the bit stronger.
Come the end of March, it may be easier to see where United’s season is heading. By then they will have completed both their Champions League legs vs Real Madrid, played their FA Cup tie vs Reading and their apparently, already won League title will be all the more clearer. I hope I don’t have to eat my words on this, as Evans may face some extremely tough tests if he plays against Madrid; but I certainly feel, and I’m sure the majority of football fans will agree, that Evans is a solid and dependable center-half option for Sir Alex Ferguson, who will only continue to improve.
By Stowe Gregory – follow or tweet for football @stowegregory