Manchester United boss Louis van Gaal has staunchly defended under-fire centre-back Jonny Evans, claiming that the Northern Ireland star didn’t intentionally spit at Newcastle United’s Papiss Cisse.
Evans is now staring down the barrel of a suspension having been charged, along with Cisse, following the on-pitch incident at St. James’ Park on Wednesday night, and the knives have well and truly been out on social media.
However Van Gaal, who himself has been the centre of attention for the wrong reasons recently, isn’t buying the idea that his man is capable of committing such a frowned upon act as spitting.
Van Gaal surprise
"It was not his intention and I said already I cannot imagine that Jonny Evans could do that and he has said that also. I believe him so for me the matter has been done," the 63-year-old said, according to BT Sport.
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From the footage in question it does look as though Evans spits in the direction of his opposite number, but whether or not there was intent behind it is impossible to tell. In contrast to Cisse’s unmistakable move after rising from the ground Evans was far more discreet, and only from slow motion footage can you really see what he’s doing.
Perhaps that’s why the United ace tried to claim yesterday that he had no idea about the media storm being kicked up around it, and denied any wrong doing. Cisse, to his credit, issued a retrospective apology and admitted his guilt, but it appears that both men will be on a level playing field when it comes to the FA charge.
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End of the line?
If Evans is found guilty and, worst case scenario, slapped with a six game ban, it could well mean the end of his career at Old Trafford. Though tipped for a big future under Sir Alex Ferguson the 27-year-old hasn’t developed comfortably into a first-team regular, and with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling fighting with him for a position in the back-line he may be offloaded if Van Gaal decides to buy a new defender this summer.
That’s what the rumours insist the Dutchman is set to do, with the likes of Mats Hummels strong mentioned in connection with The Theatre of Dreams. The arrival of such a distinguished character would certainly give Van Gaal the option to dispense with the services of at least one centre-back and of the three currently on United’s books Evans offers the least.
An ideal move for him now would probably be to follow the likes of John O’Shea and Wes Brown - other bit-part commodities who have served United in the past - and seek a move lower down the table. Evans has proven he’s good enough to play in the Premier League, just arguably not at the highest level, and any mid-table side who could tempt him could be in for a bargain.
United fans, is Evans' time up at Old Trafford? Let us know your thoughts in the comments box below...