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Bruce: Evans Has Been Brilliant In Vidic’s Absence

With Manchester City struggling so badly with captain Vincent Kompany missing for just a few games, former Manchester United captain Steve Bruce has sung the praises of United for coping so well without Vidic for most of the season. Bruce has singled out Jonny Evans for praise with the young defender coming on leaps and bounds since last season.

“Of course, they have missed Vidic but Jonny Evans has now played over 20 league games and has very quietly done extremely well,” he said. “He’s only 23, he’s played in big games and has handled himself brilliantly. Chris Smalling and Phil Jones have got all the headlines because they’ve had a meteoric rise, but I think Jonny Evans has done particularly well in filling the gap left by Vidic. It’s also important that Rio Ferdinand has come back and just given them that stability. I think defenders get better with age. Even though you might lose that half-yard of pace it gets easier. The art of defending lies in your concentration levels, and that is something which gets easier with age. It’s particularly important at United, where you are constantly on the attack and you need to stay switched on even when you might not have too much to do.”

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About Scott

Scott is the editor of Red Matters - 50 Years of Supporting Manchester United and an author of Play Like Fergie's Boys and Not Nineteen Forever. He writes for ESPN, The Metro and Bleacher Report. Follow @R_o_M on Twitter.

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  1. Jeet says:

    Great to see Evans get some recognition, finally. He has had errors, but overall is progressing steadily to becoming a mainstay in our defence.

  2. NigerianRed says:

    He’s done alright in most cases but i fail to see that little extra that is required at the highest level, especially when it comes to continental football. He also switches off sometimes at crucial moments.
    He is a nice to have and would prefer to see him as a backup defender in Man Utd instead of the main defender in central defense

  3. philco says:

    It seems Jonny just can’t please some people.
    As far as I can see the lad has done great this season but there are still some doubting him.
    His concentration has improved and in many cases he’s been the one holding the defense together.
    Well done Jonny, keep up the good work.

  4. mara says:

    Maybe he needs more time. I know that is hard when you are in defence, but maybe it is easier to wait him, then spend 20-30 mils for some defender, and that is not guarantee that he will be good. He knows the club, sistem we play…Until now it shows that we didnt mistake because we gave him a chance. I hope he can be only better.

  5. ahjs says:

    Wasn’t sure if he’d make it at United a couple of years ago, but you generally have to give defensive players more time than attacking ones. As long as they’re was willing to wait and improve, you try and keep faith with these young players and United obviously had a lot of faith in him and he’s really beginning to show why this season. Been impressed.

  6. Costas says:

    I thought he was crap? (Evans I mean)

  7. Thomas says:

    He’s one of those John O’Shea type players, easy to hate but when they’re gone you realise how crucial they could be. I think Johnny Evans gets it worse though, he’s only 24 and can get played quite intermittently. It’s more so when he gets a good run he settles and then gets ejected from it. He’s very underrated and for one, I really respect him for his loyalty and the crap he has to put up with from people a lot of the time AND he can be really solid at crucial times, sadly when he makes a slip up against a big team it’s focussed upon more than say Vidic’s nightmares of dealing with Torres.

  8. Redroy says:

    I love Jonny Evans. We are top of the league because we’ve been winning games. We win games not only because of the goals we score but also the goals we dont concede. I’d pick jonny over smalling and jones any day

  9. kk says:

    Right on Redroy. He has been the first name on the CB position since Vidic went. Bruce has said the same point as I have mention a couple of times that Smalling and Jones are crabbing all the attention. It took Rio to ask why people are only talking about Smalling and Jones as if Evans is a nobody? He has added footwork to his play and has gotten the confidence to move upfield with the ball.

  10. Touché says:

    When you think about it, Evans at 23 has played 68 games for us, been at the receiving end of an almighty bollocking from SAF at the San Siro, been part of a defense that went 13 games without conceding a goal and collected several winners medals already. That is some career already.

  11. Jay says:

    He has done very well. Smalling is good as well but to be honest I’m not really convinced by Jones in defence, I won’t talk about him playing midfield as that is not his natural position.

  12. Chris says:

    We are second behind Shitty defensively in the lge this season. I think thats good, after all the hell we’ve gone through at the back this season. Kudos to Evans for getting up and moving on after that disastrous day against. Shitty.

  13. The WitchKing of Angmar says:

    I thing Evans has by far been the best and most consistent defender in United this season. We have him to thank for our defensive record in the league. Though not the best, it coulf be far worse. Well done Jonny. I just do not get those still condemning him. Some people are just impossible to please. My final take, next season, I would play Evans alongside Vidic in defence, ahead of Ferdinand. That’s it.

  14. Mutusamy says:

    Like i mentioned before the EL is a circus show, some regular posters just choose to think that we are on par with or better quality than the likes of barca or real, using our domestic trophies to gauge our standing amongst the best teams out there. Guess it’s time for wake up call.

  15. kk says:

    Mutusamy there are issues to be addressed but we have been to several finals and came out tops in 1. We got to the finals meaning we were 2nd best. We have regressed but writing off the other very recent achievements is not right.

  16. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    Evans is one solid egg.
    Great composure and brings the ball forward really well when his confidence is oozing.
    He puts in great tackles and at 24, looks great. Defenders, all of them Vidic,Rio, CunTerry, Kompan,Lucio, Cheilini,Cannavaro,Puyol,Carvalho have all had wobbles in the early parts of their career and are now known as Quality.

    Evans has had his rough patch and he is making the odd acceptable mistake which is part of the job of being a sudden regular but by age 26 he’ll be solid as Steel & will become Vidic’s defensive partner.
    Koscielny,David Luiz,Agger, Pique are all players currently in the same position as Evans where the odd mistake is magnified but no doubt aboot it,they too will also go on to become great centre backs.

    Evans + Vidic to be out centre backs for 2012-13. Smalling will cover Evans, Experienced Rio will cover for Vidic, whilst Jones continues to be a Right Back/ Midfielder till he knows his role,

  17. Gazzo says:

    Off topic here (sorry)….. Anybody know which bar we can booze in at wolves sunday???

  18. Shimo says:

    After the 6-1 – people were out for his head and he easily could have shrunk/had his confidence destroyed. But, the way he has come through that shows the mental fortitude he has to make it at United. He’s been very good and it is also pleasing to see the way he carries the ball out of defense to help relieve pressure.

    I can certainly see Evans/Vida being our starting CB partnership for the next couple of years with Smalling taking over for Vida. Neither will ever be the the type of CB Vida is but, both have other qualities that will make them excellent in their own way.

    As for Jones – he’s a bit of a conundrum. He seems to be a force of nature but, he also needs more experience before he can be trusted at CB. I don’t like the idea of rotating CB, so the only thing I can think of is he continues to slot in at RB or as a CM for a while and even then I don’t know how he’ll manage to break into a regular CB role even once Vida/Rio are done.

  19. sp says:

    If pogba stays then next season he defiantly should bench Carrick. I’d rather have quality than experience, just look at bilbao they have lots of quality and little experience. Actually its only when he n welbeck came on and cleverly moved to the middle that united started stringing few passes together but guess who was there to loose the ball yes u guessed it park, lol people say he runs alot I say its cos he loses it everytime he touches it. Talking about cleverly no one should be fouled to think he’s our saviour because the boy is good but nothing special. Ashley young epl best European garbage just money wasted the season is not even finished I already know all about him matter fact when I saw him against a Barcelona B team player during preseason I already knew we’ve bought European garbage I mean what can he improve on: his left foot? No, dribbling? No! movement? Maybe! who knows but all am saying him and Tony V are similar should have got one and another world class winger like Nani. imao Nick AJOSE is better than both of those two. All our academy grads are technically good that’s what matters no size or whatever, united should start having more trust in these kids instead of wasting money on the likes of young Valencia park n the rest. I remember cleverly first game v Valencia I was so excited to see a young player from the academy looking to play one twos football basically and I almost punch my T.V when a certain Carrick wasn’t able to read the boys mind. I won’t get into the money wasted on berbatov and the four seasons of misusing of Anderson, an attacking mid from Brazil turned into English box box player no wonder he gets so much injuries. English football must forget the gym and concentrate on befriending the ball. Real talk

  20. LoneStarRed says:

    Like most of this team Evans is a work in progress. The big picture is that Manchester United is rebuilding on a massive scale. And like any business which continues operations while undergoing renovation. It is messy. But persevere and believe. Evans is one of many who SAF is building up to be part of the next dynasty. Being top of the PL is a bonus.

  21. Ice Cube says:

    Evans has saved us this season, along with Rio. Let’s hope he continues. United are not bad, but last night did us a favour, we were outplayed and it happened against Ajax too. It’s a problem, but at least we know it. We can fix it. The fix isn’t out of our reach, just a tweak to the playing staff and the backroom.

    Next year will be different in Europe. The game has changed, we saw that last night. We need to adapt in Europe. Even spuds are looking at the Barca/ Bilbao model of high pressing and high energy. We must follow.

  22. TheCANTONA says:

    it seems that United has bunch of worst moaners fans. one “terrible” season (albeit we’re being top of the league) and people moans like we never won anything back then. valencia crap, young crap, evans crap, park crap, etc, etc. seriously, people, being in the phase when some senior players were out (retired, sold), injuries, and bleeding young players, this kind of situation is something that we cant avoid, but its still far from the worst that we’ve faced during 70′s and 80′s era.

  23. CedarsDevil says:

    I think faggie has lost the plot ages ago. Oh and Evans is crap!

    Laters fellas… Might start posting regularly from tomorrow…


  24. OHH AHH Cantona says:

    Fair fucks to Evans and Carrick this season in particular
    they’ve really upped their performances and still 9/10 won’t give them credit and still lazily say their shit
    It fucking irritates me to no end
    But really big shout out to Evans as the pressure that must have been on him to ‘replace’ Vidic must have been immense but he’s been brilliant and in my opinion been the best defender this season for United

  25. MG says:

    Damn missed Cedars

    Come back Cedars I need Lebanese medicine been ill for a bloody week


  26. Clint-Iamyourpapii says:

    I was playing Fifa 12 :lol: I think Faggie should play this XI more regularly next season.

    De Gea
    Rafael Evans Vidic Evra
    Nani Carrick Clevs (Ericksen/Gaitan/Hazard/Munain)
    Rooney Welbeck

  27. MG says:

    Faggiendalf of Middle Earth?


  28. sp says:

    Good luck to the young reds

  29. The WitchKing of Angmar says:

    De Gea

    Rafael Evans Vidic Evra

    Valencia Carrick Cleverly Young/Munian



  30. brett1985 says:

    I’m a big admirer of Evans and what he has achieved.

    For all the young central defenders in football in the conference, in league 1 in the championship, in the premiership, in the uefa cup spots etc- Johnny Evans has made it at Manchester United. This is remarkable whether he turns out to be the next Rio Ferdinand or John O’Shea its still an achievement.

    He was a big player in a record breaking run of clean sheets a few years back and after a dip is vastly improved this season.

    I just sometimes get the sense with our detractors that with players like Evans in the team we are meant to be down in 10th position but not so. Here we are top of the league. Admittedly there is also evidence that this is not a vintage team but still he’s a highly competent defender at least who has more than made it at Premiership Level.

    I don’t really think Evans presense is a problem and at times I get the sense that he’s a very fine defender. If he can up his game another notch then we really will be singing his praises and he’ll probably end up a permanent fixture in there. And lets face it- it’s a key position too.

  31. CHICHARITO!!! 1nil Ya-Knighted says:

    fuck it. lets bring back nicky ajose, magnus eikriem, davide petrucci, paul pogba and ryan tunnicliffe and have em all in the 1st team. fuck buying rat modric, aitheist erikson, havey martinez and who ever else you bilbao-barca scarred cunts feel we need to break the bank for.
    admittedly we could get a latin coach just to help with ball control and all that silky stuff it seems it takes to dominate in european matches nowadays

  32. Sparkz says:

    Evans has been by far our best defender this season. He’s a confidence player, and you can see he’s come on leaps and bounds. That’s most obvious on the ball, he’s so composed and picks some great passes, and surges forward a fair bit as well. 2 footed too. He had a bad 18 months, but he’s turning it around. Atm, him and Smalling look like our future centre back partnership to me.

    Funny thing is, its the players who’ve come through the ranks that seem to get the most stick from fans. Evans, JOS, Fletcher, Wes etc. I put that down to 2 things:

    1) Fergie’s Fledglings i.e Beckham, Scholes etc, set the bar so high that people expect world beaters from every player we produce. Ridiculous.

    2) The success we’ve had has led to more and more bandwagon fans, who are more interested in players than teams. These are the same people who constantly want us to sign the flavour of the month foreign players, rather than bring through the Academy boys. No disprespect, but the bulk of these people are either foreign supporters who’ve only recently started supporting us, people under the age of 16, or both. They just don’t get the history of Youth at this football club, and would rather spend £100m every summer than produce our own.

    Don’t get me wrong, I’m all for adding quality, and I’ve championed the signings of Modric last summer, Martinez this summer. But you know what – give me a Welbeck over a Neymar any day of the week.

  33. wacky27 says:

    well said mate.. I think our fans are not easily satisfied. the fans want us to win all the competition the we are in year in year out and one defeat, they cry for new players. As we know this is transitional season for United and being at top of the league in transitional season is not an easy feat. We can see many team failed at transitional season, e.g. liverpool in early ’90s, arsenal in 2005, Chelsea this season. those team can not mantain title challange over long period of time, meanwhile united has mantained it for almost two decades with SAF building many great teams in the process.

    Regarding young players from academy, i think all fans should know that since Matt Busby era, we always tried to bring players from our academy. that is united way. And i think SAF try preserve the tradition. if you watch SAF documentary from ESPN, you can see SAF consulted with Jimmy Murphy and Matt Busby when building the team and from there the Fergie Fledglings were born.

    This season we are very poor in europe but the fans need to be realistic. This is transitional season and i think we all get better next season. why?

    1.GK: we have two (potentially) great goalie. DDG starts to show his quality and lindergaard is very capable back up.
    2. Center halves: Evans starts to get better with age. he is consistent and composed in the heart of defense. Smalling is also potentially great CB. I hope Jones can also come good at CB but right now, he is a bit liability in CB.
    3. Fullback : if the twins can keep themselves out of injury it will be great but somehow i doubt it. i think we just need one left fullback because Evra does not look like what he used to be.
    4. Mildfielder : if Pogba stays, i think we are in really good position in the midfield. Cleverley will be better next year.signing a midfielder in the mould of carrick would be better though. Javi Martinez would be good signing.
    5. wingers : Although we have many wingers, signing one more tricky wingers which have pace would be great. in the bilbao game, we don’t have wingers who is fast enough to tear the wing. Young and Park are not so fast as a winger. signing hazard or munain is a good idea, i guess.
    6. Strikers : i think we are in a good position in the striking department. Rooney is great. Welbeck is improving but need to work in his composure, Chicarito have improved his all-round play as well.if we want to sign a strikers, maybe it’s better to sign a strikers that can play lone strikers because i think we don’t have that kind of striker.

  34. King Eric says:

    Sparkz – Spot on pal.

  35. wayneknight09 says:

    Totally agree with Brucey,Evans has handled himself well. It is about time he performed well,he has been with us for a long time now and played a substantial number of games. I just want him to do as well as he is doing now,but he does lack consistency. I dread to think of evans at emptyhad stadium in April,given his traumatic experience against citeh in october.

  36. ryan says:

    Wacky27: agree with most of your points there, but young is definitely not slow. I think he is as fast as Valencia on the ball, definitely faster than Nani. Besides being a little inconsistent, he has great speed, stamina, superb curling shot, and has some tricks to beat his man as well. Oh and his delivery (crossing or dead ball) is excellent as well.

  37. kev e says:

    Jonny has been a revelation this season for me. It’s great to see a young player that’s come through the ranks playing that well. Right now I think he’s been our most consistent centre back, has played an awful lot of matches, and it’s rare that you would think there is nearly 10 years experience between him and Rio. He’s made important interceptions and tackles on a number of occasions, and with the way that United play with a lot of attacking intent, and Evra often right up the pitch, it’s easy for the defenders to be left exposed and he’s tidied up well. Really impressed after struggling last year and the shit that got thrown at him by fair weather supporters.

  38. Ryan says:

    Author: nice article mate, spot on

    Wacky27: Agree with most of your points there, except the one that young is slow. Park has definitely lost a yard of pace and his technique on the ball seems lacking, but young is definitely not slow. I think that he is as fast as Valencia on the ball, probably faster than Nani at full tilt, has great technique in long shots, and his delivery is excellent. He is probably not as strong as Val and Nani but he definitely has the tricks to beat his man, and his consistency isn’t the best though..

    A conundrum here, if we sign Hazard or some other pacy, tricky winger like bale, affellay etc, how will they fit into the team?

  39. torontored says:

    Since 1999 here is what we have won that counts with, as some above claim, “marginal players”:-

    seven league titles
    two FA Cups
    three League Cups
    two UCL Cups (and two more finals and one fuck up in the semis in 2001)

    So in seven of twelve we are # 1 in England and two of twelve we have been # 1 in Europe. The UCL is misleading as we fucked up in 2001- so let’s say we were second best in Europe three times – can’t remember how many semi’s we made so can say we are a consistent top four European club over that period.

    JFC what is so bad about that?

    This year massive injury list – Vidic/Ando/TCTonyV /Fletcher etc etc (and a new goalie to integrate into the team). Poor in Europe no doubt, but have kept focus in the league. Perhaps that is all we were able to cope with this year?

    Denis Irwin told me a few years, back when United were here, that the amount of physical energy used to win any trophy is immense but the main obstacle is physchological and mental. 3% drop in “total performance” from one player may cost you a game these days. Extrapolate that to several players and you will lose.

    Rest of the planet can only dream of such a record – this record is epitomized this year by Evans. Evans has gone from a nervy second choice selection to a mainstay and with Rio’s back problems he will be an integral part of the team for a few years to come. Reckon he reads the game well , cuts out the space, rarely gives the opposing player room when one on one (unlike Evra who has been marginal defending at left back – in fact he’s been shit). And for a centre half does not give up that many stupid fouls. Could use a bit of time on the weights perhaps. At right back cannot say we are that good – perhaps more inconsistent than anything – Smalling and Jones do not play that position well. Tony V and either of the Brazilians are more suited but either because of injury or selection do not get a game there.

    This year we started we strated with a bang – everything went great in all areas with Ando/TC ruling the middle and – Rooney dropping back assisting as needed – Nani and Young excellent on the wings – then injuries and we have still managed to claw our way to the top of the league – good development in Welbeck and Chicarito to boot.

    Thank fuck I am a United fan. I count my blessings. Sir Alex you are a hardworking genius!

    UNITED 20 – 2012

  40. RedKamer says:

    What are you on? Is it a prescription thing? Or something really hard? I need to get that high.

  41. MichaelPapoui says:

    I for one thought thjat Evans wouldn’t hack it and would be moved on, BUT he haas certainly proved me wrong! Keep up the good work Johnny!


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