Jonny Evans was handed a six match ban following a spitting incident with Papiss Cisse at St. James’s Park a few weeks back.
Cisse was handed an extra game ban, due to the malicious nature of his retort. Such a lengthy ban for a player, in the latter stages of the season, could be considered a massive blow to a side. But, is the ban Jonny Evans received really a blessing in disguise?
Jonny Evans has come under criticism from some United fans this season. It’s pretty safe to say that he is Manchester United’s most inconsistent defender, and he is too quick to pass the ball back to David De Gea. In their clash against Sunderland at home, Evans faced boos for passing back to the ‘keeper, and the home crowd then chanted “Atttack attack attack!” Passing back to the goalkeeper is expected in a game, but it seems Evans has done it all too often – especially if he is being called out for it by the United faithful.
In Man United’s first league game since the ban, the Reds put on their best performance of the season in a 3-0 win over Spurs. Being without Evans was not an issue at the back – a partnership of Chris Smalling and Phil Jones put in a solid shift, and are sure to be in the starting line up against Liverpool at Anfield this weekend (if Marcos Rojo is still unavailable).
It looks like Manchester United are not struggling without their Northern Irish defender. Chris Smalling in particular has been very good in the back line – a player who learned a very important lesson after the sending off at Manchester City back in November.
At 27-years-old, Evans should be reaching his peak in football, but he still is not a massively confident player. United’s already shaky defence is not strengthened with Evans in their side. His absence from selection gives room for rotation – such as the Smalling/Jones partnership, and even Blind dropping back to help out.
Louis Van Gaal has been pushing the importance of the youth of Manchester United: playing the likes of Luke Shaw, Andreas Periera and Adnan Januzaj. One youngster who could push Evans out is Paddy McNair. He may not have featured heavily in the Premier League in recent weeks, but he is featuring regularly at under -21 level. At only 19, he has plenty of time to establish himself in the first team.
With a massive slip up like this, it will be hard for Evans to walk back into his current squad when his ban is up. In all honesty, the Newcastle match may be the last time Evans plays for United this season. Louis Van Gaal has stronger options, which could even spell the end of Evans’ United career.