Patrice Evra, was considered to be one of the best left backs in the world at one point during his eight season tenure with Manchester United.
Now however, the 31-year-old French international is past his prime and at times this season has proven to be a liability more than an asset. There have been a couple of occasions this season where Evra's lack of concentration, or his inability to track his man properly has directly led to goals in the back of the wrong net for United.
It's no secret that age takes its toll on everyone and is especially notable on players who once used speed and stamina as their primary weapon of assault. Such players must find ways to reinvent themselves as they age in order for them to stay relevant in the modern game and make a meaningful contribution to their team. A perfect example would be the age defying Ryan Giggs.
However in Evra's case the transition may not be as easy. First of all he plays the role of a full back who has hardly ever started a game in the centre half position. Shifting him to a centre back could prove an even bigger disaster due to his lack of experience and abilities needed to competently fill that role. The consideration of this idea is not even conceivable.
Perhaps it is time United do not rely so heavily on Evra and ease his participation in the team. That way, when he does play - he should be able to expand his full capacity of energy bombarding down the flanks as well as tracking back to do his defensive duties. Perhaps knowing that he does not have to hold back in the games he partakes in, Evra will be able to overcome any mental barriers that he has set for himself.
Very often players tend to limit themselves so as to protect themselves from injury or over-exertion. Removing such a heavy expectation from him could propel him to excel.
Currently the problem seems to lie in his lack of energy at times during a game. A simple task such as tracking his man, or recovering fast enough in defence.
If he has depreciated to a state where he will not be effective for a full 90 minutes than perhaps it is time Manchester United start moulding a player who could foreseeably cement that spot for the next five years.
Fabio will be returning from loan at the end of the season and although his development was heavily hampered because of injuries, if he is as good as his twin brother Rafael - United should place some faith in him.
After all, when the twins first arrived at Old Trafford it was Fabio who supposedly the more talented one and had more potential. Now assuming that turns out to be true, United would have wasted not fielding such a player. (No offence to Rafael - he is still a fantastic player for United the right back role will probably belong to him for the next decade.)
End of the day, Evra is still a decent player for United and perhaps his time is not completely up yet at the Theatre of Dreams. Maybe the manager should look into giving the passionate Frenchman a break from time to time, just to ease the burden off his ageing legs. Evra will not be able to run riot down the flanks forever and the sooner he realises that, the better it will be for the team.
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