Belfast Telegraph

Friday 25 July 2014

Steven Beacom: Jonny Evans must learn lesson from Ferguson’s hairdryer treatment

Jonny Evans

Wayne Rooney’s brilliant double strike, Darren Fletcher’s industry around the pitch, David Beckham up against fellow Manchester United legend Paul Scholes and a reminder about just how much skill Ronaldinho has.

All of the above helped provide a gripping contest between two giants of the game at the San Siro on Tuesday night.

But the most memorable image for me from United’s 3-2 victory over AC Milan in the Champions League was Sir Alex Ferguson’s astonishing rant in the direction of Jonny Evans.

I’ll admit I take a special interest in Jonny because I’ve known him since he broke into the Northern Ireland team as a kid, making his debut in that epic David Healy inspired 3-2 victory over Spain at Windsor Park in 2006.

He’s one of our own.

And I like to see the boys from over here do well over there, regardless of who they play for.

So many players from Northern Ireland have tried to make the grade at Old Trafford over the years, but few have succeeded lately.

Evans has bucked the trend.

From playing in Carling Cup games and dead rubber Champions League group games, he progressed quickly enough for Ferguson to have faith to play him on a more regular basis — and in big games.

He has impressed in most of them, though Tuesday night will certainly not go down in his list of top 10 performances.

It’s worth remembering that Jonny has suffered with injury this season. I’m not sure he is 100% fit at the moment, but the Rathcoole man is the type who would play through the pain barrier.

Even so that does not excuse some of his distribution and defensive play in Milan.

Hence Ferguson firing a broadside at him. Paul Scholes may have just scored a fortunate equaliser but all the United boss was concerned about was giving Jonny a rollicking.

On the touchline he appeared to be telling his defender to wake up.

The hairdryer treatment normally reserved for his players in the dressing room or reporters after a press conference was there for the nation to see.

And poor old Jonny was on the end of it.

The incident illustrated Ferguson’s never-ending desire to win, but also his ruthless nature that second best will not do.

How do you think he has won so many trophies down the years?

Contrary to public opinion, Sir Alex is a sentimental soul, but not when it comes to making decisions about keeping United at the top.

And while Evans has done much more right than wrong since starting to play frequently for United, he would do well to learn the hairdryer lesson that Ferguson demands high levels of performance and concentration week in week out.

Jonny’s a down to earth, amiable young man and a high-quality defender. He is sure to be a stalwart for Northern Ireland for many years to come.

He has the ability to do the same for Manchester United. Just as long as he doesn’t get Fergie angry again.

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