2008 was one of the best years as far as the club is concerned. Not only we won the double, we did it on 50th year of remembering Munich tragedy and The Busby Babes. The season featured many remarkable games. But I am talking about ‘not so special’ night in Rome. In dead rubber game against Totti’s AS Roma, team was full of young players and one 20 year old defender stole the show. He marked great Roman captain for the entire game and didn’t give him an inch space. Totti who was otherwise driving force was toothless against this Irish debutant. We all loved what we saw. It was fitting tribute to club’s tradition of bringing top players through the ranks and something Sir Matt and his babes stood for.
Unfortunately when it comes to defenders, supporters don’t exactly have best of memories. People recall when Ronaldo was ripping Bolton defence to shreds in his first game. People remember how Danny scored his first goal at Stretford End. Nobody is never ever going to forget THAT Macheda goal. But I am not sure how many of you can recall Jonny Evans’ heroic attempts to nullify Roman attack. Next season, he made his league at Stamford Bridge and won every areal dual with Didier fucking Drogba who was at peak of his game. He later made Ibra his bitch at San Siro vs Inter. Moreover he featured in the team for around 30 times over the season and justified his selection. But defenders usually don’t get ‘Magic Moments’ like strikers do. Unfair isn’t it?
So is the stick Jonny getting from our own fans this season. Many of them want Jonny to move on. They feel he’s lost it. He was never good enough. He stayed at the club for so many years because he was Fergie’s boy. Being our most experience defender he should be able to lead the backline. Last bit, not exactly unfair. But there are so many things which are getting overlooked by our own fans. In 2012-13, he was an important part of the team. His performance was on par with Rio’s. But what happened after that? Let’s find out.
In 2012-13, after missing out starting weeks due to ankle injury Evans had a regular run in the team which can be stretched to 11 games at one point and played 30 times (while Rio played 34 time). 30 isn’t bad at all when featured at Madrid, Anfield, Stamford, Etihad and when he was competing with the likes of Jones, Smalling and then captain, Vidic. Compare that with disastrous last season. In 2012-13 he played in the league 23 times while that number goes down to 17 last season. Jonny started with either Rio/Vidic his partner for around 20 times in 2012-13 but that number goes down to 12 last season. After playing consistently at one point between Nov-Jan, he started only one game after February last season.
As I said before, defender gets it really hard some times. People forget that even the greatest of back 4 needs shielding from the midfield. Milan defence of Maldini-Nesta played with Gattusso-Pirlo ahead of them. Rio-Vidic with Carrick/Scholes/Fletch. Even for the great Barca side of 08-11, Puyol-Pique had protection from Xavi-Busquets. Last season, we barely had a midfield. Carrick’s season was the most forgettable. Fletch after injury has never been the same. And Fellaini did not even look like a midfielder. With so many injuries at the back, life for a United defender was not a walk in the part. It was a fucking agony.
Now consider last season, worst ever Premier League season for the club. When entire team was short of confidence. Entire team was in disagreement with man in charge. After over 20+ years of stable governance, we sensed an anarchy. Even the best of players couldn’t perform. Some of players are still hungover and Jonny is one of them. I get the feeling, he hasn’t recovered from last season. Both physically and mentally. He was injured in last February and he hasn’t fully recovered. Players he played with were not doing better themselves. Not to forget, he’s playing in completely different system now. Back 5. Or back 3. Whatever you call it. He will need some time to get used it. He will need some time to adjust. He needs our support. Not mocking and abuse.
He was one of Louis Van Gaal’s candidate for club captaincy. Maybe Van Gaal trusts him more than most of us. Maybe Jonny needs some rest to gain full fitness. Maybe he needs some bollocking. We have a right man to look after him and everyone at the club. Let him deal with him. But one thing is sure, bad 6 months doesn’t make him a bad defender. He has successfully marked the likes of Totti, Drogba, Torres, Ibra and even Robin Van Persie the past. He will prove himself. He’s been with club since he was a kid and I would love it if he succeeds Wayne Rooney for club captaincy. I know I am getting ahead of myself at the moment but after supporting the most romantic club in the history, I sometime just can’t help myself.