Belfast Telegraph

Why leaving Manchester United could end up a wise move for Jonny Evans

By Steven Beacom

Back in the 1980s they used to say that when a player left Liverpool the only way was down. They were right.

Few Liverpool players enjoyed much success after departing the dominant Anfield outfit.

It's been largely the same scenario with Manchester United for the past 20 years.

Sure, there's been a few who have waved farewell to the Theatre of Dreams and done pretty well.

Best of all has been Cristiano Ronaldo who has gone on to achieve incredible success, both personally and with Real Madrid.

But then he's a special case and a very, very special footballer.

For every Cristiano Ronaldo, I could name you 10 Wes Browns!

That's just one of the reasons why Jonny Evans is wary about leaving Old Trafford behind. Fear.

He knows that when you step down from the top of the ladder, it can be hard to halt the slide and if you aren't careful, you can quickly end up near the bottom rung.

Evans has too much ability for that to happen, though that won't have stopped him wondering.

It was two months ago that this paper broke the news that the Northern Ireland defender's time at United was coming to an end.

On the upside for Jonny we revealed that Arsenal and Spurs were interested in him. Now Everton are keen as well. Others will show their hand when this season ends.

Always nice to feel wanted.

At Old Trafford I'm not sure Evans has felt that way for some time.

When Louis Van Gaal first arrived on the scene at Old Trafford after last summer's World Cup there were those at the club who were convinced the Dutchman was going to build his defence around Evans.

In those early days Van Gaal did nothing to alter that view when talking positively about the Ulsterman in press briefings.

This was it...after years of playing superbly for United but considered by many fans to only be a stop gap for Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic, this was Jonny's chance to be the main man at the back and show everyone just how good he was.

Instead the campaign that promised so much has turned into a nightmare.

He's had injuries, loss of form and a six match ban for spitting at Newcastle striker Papiss Cisse (which Evans denies he did deliberately).

So far this season Jonny has actually made fewer appearances for United than his young compatriot Paddy McNair.

Even Radamel Falcao has played more!

Due to the lack of game time, Evans has dropped down the pecking order with Phil Jones and Chris Smalling impressing Van Gaal.

And that's before big name defenders arrive during the transfer window.

It leaves Evans considering his next move. In an ideal world he'd like to stay, but things are far from ideal for him at United right now.

Leaving would be a massive wrench. He has been with the club since he was a kid and his wife Helen has becomer a popular presenter on MUTV. Cut Jonny open and he would bleed red, black and white, but at 27 years of age he has reached a crossroads in his life and has to choose a new path.

It could prove to be a wise move and give his footballing career the boost it needs.

At his best Evans is an exceptional performer. Comfortable with the ball at his feet, he can pass and start attacking moves with ease and when he is fully concentrated is a fine defender.

Focus is key. Once he loses it, as he has done for both United and Northern Ireland, the truth is he can be a liability.

His display in the 1-1 draw against Portugal a few years ago when Ronaldo won his 100th cap was awesome. That's the level he can reach.

Going forward he has to consistently deliver that standard for his country and whichever club he is playing for next season.

Belfast Telegraph


From Belfast Telegraph