Football

Jonny Evans should start for Manchester United

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With the recent criticism of current Manchester United centre-backs Phil Jones and Chris Smalling and the departure of the old guard in Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, it is safe to say that central defence is an area of concern for the club and their new manager.

It is glaringly obvious that at least one new centre-back is required but I believe that United already possess a player capable of filling in one slot: Jonny Evans.

Despite making his debut more than seven years ago and possessing enough qualities to persuade Sir Alex Ferguson to hold on to him ahead of Gerard Pique, Evans is hardly ever mentioned in the same breath as Smalling and Jones when it comes to future United centre-backs.

Although this is partially down to the benefit of the patriotism that both English defenders receive, it is unjust that the Northern Ireland international is often left out of the equation.

Although not blessed with the natural athleticism of Smalling or the energy levels of Jones, Evans more than makes up for it with his reading of the game and his positional awareness - aspects of the game that Jones in particular has been criticised for in the past.

He also appears much more comfortable in possession than his counterparts, certainly the closest thing that United have to Ferdinand in his pomp, although clearly not on that level just yet.

His passing too is the most complete of all three with an accuracy of 87.3% for his appearances in the Premier League, only slightly bettered by Jones (88.3%) and much better than Smalling (82.6%).

More tellingly, his passing stats are vastly superior than both in the Champions League, remaining at 88% whilst Jones drops to 84.7% and Smalling’s is an appalling 73.7%, which highlights his lack of composure in the big games.

Another aspect of the game where Evans appears to be the best option of those currently available is his big-game temperament. He has held his own on several occasions for club and country against the very best, including helping a vastly inferior Northern Ireland side to a 1-1 draw against Cristiano Ronaldo’s Portugal. 

Smalling in particular seems to feel under pressure when playing against the very best and is often seen hoofing the ball aimlessly forward as his Champions League passing stats are testament to.

However, Evans is not without his flaws. As previously mentioned, his lack of pace can be exploited and whilst he may not make as many mistakes as Smalling and Jones when he does, he lacks the speed to recover from them.

He also seems unable to put a run of games together, whether through injury or the formidable Vidic and Ferdinand being in his way. In his seven seasons at United he has only managed to play in more than 20 league matches on two occasions.

Whether you agree with my judgement that Evans is the best remaining centre-back at Manchester United, one thing is for certain; sorting out the defence is priority for the incoming manager. Whether Evans et al are given their chance remains to be seen.

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Topics:
Jonny Evans
Football
Manchester United
Premier League

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This article has been written by a member of the GiveMeSport Writing Academy and does not represent the views of GiveMeSport.com or SportsNewMedia. The views and opinions expressed are solely that of the author credited at the top of this article. GiveMeSport.com and SportsNewMedia do not take any responsibility for the content of its contributors.

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