Patrice Evra has, according to reports, given Manchester United a massive boost – by agreeing to stay at the club.
This is a shock, not just because his contract was near expiry with no sign that he would not be offered another one, but also because he has simply not been good enough. If Evra is willing to be understudy to a player like Luke Shaw then that’s fine as he would be good back-up. But he is too unreliable and out of form to play nearly every match.
He, and Rafael for that matter on the opposite flank, give away too many silly fouls and free-kicks; Evra’s most notable one being in the 2-2 draw away at Cardiff City last season where a foul from behind on a player in a non-dangerous area led to The Bluebirds equalising in the dying minutes from the resulting set piece.
United will be involved in fewer games next season having not qualified for Europe next season so the Frenchman may not be happy playing second fiddle as there will not be enough matches to occupy him.
New boss Louis van Gaal must think he can get the best out of Evra and/or is worried about the prospect of taking on such an inexperienced defence – probably the most important part of the team being the base and area in which most attacks begin.
With the squad losing three massive figures at once in Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Ryan Giggs, it might be a case of keeping hold of another old head who has been at the club for a long period of time as Michael Carrick and Wayne Rooney are the only other ones. You certainly couldn’t rely on Rafael, Chris Smalling and Phil Jones.
He may also be thinking of Evra in terms of the coaching side, knowing that should he hang up his boots at the end of next season, he could be of incredible value knowing the Frenchman’s passion, enthusiasm and experience of the game. Alexander Buttner didn’t do badly in the games that he played in the latter stages of the season, and although he is a decent back-up, with Shaw being so experienced (assuming he is going to United of course), he may not be sufficient enough to cover and guide the young left-back through the issues that he will face in making the step-up to one of the biggest clubs in the world.
Evra can provide that, which is probably the biggest reason why he was offered a new contract. It could be seen as a stagnant step keeping on a player who is well past his sell-by-date - as if they are trying to hang on to their recent glorious past - but the decision to keep on the veteran could very well be all about the future.
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