Patrice Evra: Forever United

When Sir Alex Ferguson bought a relatively unheard of French full back named Patrice Evra from Monaco in the January transfer window of 2006, you could have forgiven sections of the United faithful for having their doubts. A somewhat disastrous derby debut display against Manchester City, leading the Frenchman to getting substituted at half time wasn’t exactly the greatest of starts to his Old Trafford career. However, despite the derby day blues, Evra went on to become one of the finest signings of Ferguson’s managerial career and became an essential part of the clubs success towards the late 2000s and into the next decade.

In a stay that spanned over 8 years at Old Trafford, Evra won nearly all there was to win. 5 Premier League Titles, 1 UEFA Champions League, 3 League Cups, 1 FIFA Club World Cup, and a bundle of Community Shields made for an impressive medal collection for the Frenchman,  with only an FA Cup winners medal missing from his awards cabinet.

There have been few footballers that have played for the club like Evra, who had shown so much passion for the club. He knew what playing for Manchester United mesnt, he wasn’t just here to perform on the pitch and pick up his handsome pay check; he understood what the club was all about.

After joining mid-way through the 2005/06 campaign, it wouldn’t really be till mid-way through the following campaign (2006/07) where Patrice Evra truly established himself in the United first XI. Having fought off competition from Mikael Silvestre and Gabriel Heinze, Evra never really looked back. He opened up his goal scoring account for the Reds against Everton in a 3-0 victory before following that up with a lovely strike in the 7-1 demolition of Roma at Old Trafford. Despite only making 24 league appearances, Evra was named in the PFA team of the year along with 7 other Manchester United players (Van Der Dar, Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Gary Neville, Cristiano Ronaldo, Paul Scholes, Ryan Giggs) as the club wrestled the Premier League title back from Jose Mourinho’s Chelsea side.

What was to follow in the 2007/08 campaign was beyond the stuff even dreams are made of, as United not only won the Premier League title, but were crowned Champions of Europe for a 3rd time defeating Chelsea on penalties on that famous night in Moscow. Evra was now the club’s first choice left full back and made a mighty impressive 48 appearances in all competitions. He wasn’t just United’s best left back; he was now arguably now the best left full back in the world. His efforts on the field were rewarded as the club handed the Frenchman as four-year contract extension.

Evra remained ever present in the United side as we headed into the 2008/09 campaign, which saw the club win a 3rd successive Premier League Title, win yet another League Cup and ended the calendar year by being crowned Champions of the World. With the only blemish coming in the clubs final game of the season losing out to a superb Barcelona side in the European Cup Final in Rome. From a personal perspective Evra again was named in the PFA team of the year and made a much familiar 48 appearances in all competitions much like the previous campaign.

The departures of Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez a matter of weeks after the club’s European Cup final defeat would always make the following season (2009/10) a difficult one for United, both on and off the pitch, and it saw the club finish runners up to Carlo Ancelotti’s Chelsea side, but Evra remained consistent as ever, going on to make a whopping 51 appearances in competitions, including appearing in all of United’s 38 League’s matches. His efforts on the field were again rewarded as the French Man was named in the UEFA team of the year in January 2010.

The 2010/11 campaign brought something of a mixed bag for the club. Winning back the Premier League title is always a sweet moment, but losing out to Barcelona for a second time in three years in the European Cup final at Wembley left more than a touch of a disappointment on the season. For Evra, it was business as usual, as he went on to make that ever familiar number of 48 appearances in all competitions. He even made it on the score sheet, netting the opener against Wigan Athletic at Old Trafford in a 2-0 victory.

As we headed into Patrice Evra’s final seasons at the Theatre of Dreams he remained a solid and consistent figure in and amongst the united side. Disappointment on losing the League title to rivals Manchester City on the last day on the 2011/12 campaign was put right the following season (2012/13) as United won back the League Title for a record equalling 20th time. His final season at the club (2013/14) fast became a rather forgettable one for the club, as United slipped to 7th place under then boss David Moyes.

His time at Old Trafford was officially brought to an end on the 21st July 2014, where it was announced Evra would be joining Italian giants Juventus.

His time at the club may be long over, but he will be forever remembered in the hearts of the united faithful. He knew what it meant to play for Manchester United, and fans won’t forget that.