Belfast Telegraph

Wednesday 20 August 2014

Jonny Evans must prove to new Manchester United boss Louis Van Gaal that Sir Alex Ferguson was right

Jonny Evans
Jonny Evans

Jonny Evans has a big future at Manchester United. Well, according to Sir Alex Ferguson, that is.

In his best-selling autobiography, Ferguson predicted that long-term United's back four would be built around the Northern Ireland defender.

It's worth remembering though that Fergie thought David Moyes would make a great United manager, so I wouldn't be counting my chickens just yet if I was Jonny.

New United boss Louis van Gaal will have his own ideas.

Evans is about to enter the most important period of his life and not just because he is going to become a father for the first time.

Like every other United player, apart from the new teacher's pet Robin van Persie, the Ulsterman's Old Trafford career will be on the line once Van Gaal walks through the doors in July.

Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand will be long gone by the time the former Barcelona and Ajax manager takes his first training session, but that won't necessarily increase the chances of Evans becoming a regular under Van Gaal because there will be at least two new central defenders arriving during the summer.

Borussia Dortmund's Mats Hummels is expected to come in so that will be one spot taken right away.

It will be up to Jonny to make the other his.

First things first, he has to recover from the foot injury that has ruled him out of Northern Ireland's South American tour and then he must impress Van Gaal in training and pre-season fixtures.

LVG likes his defenders to be strong characters on and off the field. He also feels they should be able to read the game and be comfortable with the ball at their feet.

Over to you then Jonny, who is 26 now and no longer considered United's next great prospect. He has to assume a leadership role and produce consistent performances when his chance comes, otherwise his time at Old Trafford will come to an end. It won't matter to Van Gaal that Evans has been at the club since he was a kid.

Of course other Premier League sides would sign Evans in a heartbeat if he became available, but Manchester United is where he wants to be beyond June 2016 when his current contract runs out.

He will know all too well that after the Red Devils, normally the only way is down.

Van Gaal's opinion of Evans is not just a huge issue for the player, it's also important for Northern Ireland because having a high-profile performer at United gives our youngsters someone to aspire to and the belief that if he can reach that level, so can I.

In the coming months, Evans must deliver for his new manager, his club and his country.

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