Belfast Telegraph

Evans ready for another Manchester United Wembley final

By Stuart McKinley

Jonny Evans has experienced the twin extremes of Sir Alex Ferguson’s personality. He doesn’t always know which particular emotional state his Manchester United manager will be in, but the Northern Ireland defender knows which he prefers.

There is no need for Old Trafford players to head to the barbers when Fergie’s ‘hairdryer’ has been on them at full blast.

The Old Trafford boss has tried in the past to play down the ‘hairdryer’ talk, putting what he brands a myth down to former player Mark Hughes.

There is little doubt that Ferguson knows how to let his players know in no uncertain terms when he is angry with them. You only have to look at David Beckham’s eyebrow a few months before his Old Trafford exit to see the damage that can be done, when a boot kicked by the enraged manager hit the England star.

Evans hasn’t quite got the boot from Sir Alex in that way, but he has suffered the wrath of his boss - as recently as last week. The Newtownabbey-born lad was told to ‘wake-up’ after AC Milan’s equaliser in a Champions League game.

The fact that United went on to win the game 3-2 to carry an advantage into the second leg had Ferguson much more relaxed afterwards - when the pair laughed off the incident.

“I think because he thought I was the last one to make a mistake that I shouldn’t have been celebrating when we scored,” said Evans. “He can be pretty sharp, but you come to expect that. He’s had a joke with me about it since and we had a laugh.

“He’s always been very good to me. He is not a manager who is constantly saying ‘well done,’ but when he thinks you’ve played well he will let you know he’s pleased with you.”

Now Evans wants to ensure that the hairdryer remains unused at Wembley tomorrow when United face Aston Villa in the Carling Cup final.

It will be the 22-year-old’s third Wembley outing, having won the Charity Shield last season before United beat Tottenham on penalties to lift the Carling Cup this time last year.

His first full season in the United first-team — having gone out on-loan for at least half of every previous campaign — was silver lined, with World Club Championship and Premier League titles coming his way as well.

The first medals of his career, however, aren’t the be all and end all for the boyhood Manchester United fan, indeed he’s so focused on adding to his collection that he isn’t even sure where the others are.

“Last year was really pleasing, it felt good and it’s good to be going to Wembley again with the experience of having won there before,” said Evans. “I’d won the World Club Championship a couple of months before, but that was a strange because I came off the bench in a final that we were expected to win comfortably.

“It is great to have the medals, but I gave them to my mum and dad and I don’t know where they are now.

“I think it’s more important to look at medals on paper and see what is there beside your name.

“At a club like Manchester United though to have only two or three doesn’t look that good.

“I don’t know how many Ryan Giggs has, but if I even got half of that I’d be delighted.”

Giggs is the most decorated player, not only in the history of Manchester United, but in English football, with 11 Premier League wins, four in the FA Cup and 15 others of varying importance as well.

Despite that the Welshman has often come in for criticism and that’s something which Evans has had to come to terms with more recently.

“I think I’ve played more games this season that at this time last year and I definitely think I have improved as a player,” he said.

“I think my overall game, my positioning, my awareness have all improved and I feel more comfortable than last season.

“Over the last few games I haven’t played as well as I know I can, but you’re going to get dips like that. It’s all about working hard to overcome those spells and come out of it better off for the experience.”

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