If we have learnt anything from footballers in recent times, it’s that player-power can no longer be just swept under the carpet. Wayne Rooney and Carlos Tevez both handed in transfer requests only to withdraw them once they had had their ‘needs’ met earlier this season. Manchester United may now face another uncomfortable transfer scare as defender Patrice Evra has recently been quoted regarding his own future. But is he merely testing the water or does he really want out of Old Trafford?
It is definitely a risky tactic if the Frenchman is trying to increase his pay-packet. Manager Sir Alex Ferguson has been ruthless down the years and there is no reason to believe he would treat his left-back any differently. All Evra need do is cast his mind back to the way Gabriel Heinze was quickly shown the door after he decided to try his managers patience. After all, that did lead to him becoming the first-choice left-back.
Evra also should be aware that for the first time since he established himself as United’s first choice number 3, Fergie has another left-back ready and waiting to slot right in. Fabio has the quality, he just needs some experience and to stay injury-free. His brother, Rafael, has benefited from a run in the team and now he has matured and become United’s first choice right-back. Fabio is more than capable of emulating his twins success.
Quite rightly, you may question just how ‘ruthless’ Ferguson actually is these days, especially given the way he acted during the Rooney saga. But there is no doubt the manager knew exactly how the handle that particular occasion. He recognised that after losing Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, he couldn’t afford to see Rooney go too, so he pulled on the nation’s heart-strings and cascaded the forward out into the football wilderness – he was the enemy. Fortunately for United, Rooney came round. Or he was turned around, by a huge cheque.
The point is, Ferguson is unlikely to react to Evra in the same way. The 29-year-old isn’t irreplaceable and if he carries on touting potential moves, he could get what he asked for. Ironic really as given the success he has experienced at Old Trafford and how much he is adulated by the fans, why would he want a move?
United have been quick to dismiss the rumours and have been adamant that the defender was misquoted. This isn’t the first time Evra has been linked with a move away, though, and his agent did confirm genuine interest from Inter Milan last summer.
But if Evra is just testing the water, he is certainly making a splash but he should tread carefully. He is not indispensable and he is certainly not bigger than the club. If he wants to leave, then the respectable thing to do would be to continue playing for United and then handing a transfer request in at the end of the season. But it’s time for the Frenchman to decide either way because Ferguson certainly won’t put up with another player revolt.