It’s hard to think back to the time when Gabriel Heinze was a greatly loved member of our squad. He was a ferocious player who never shied away from tackles and loved to get stuck in. “ARGENTINA!” was the chant that would go around Old Trafford every time he put the ball, and the man, in to the stands.
When Heinze watched Patrice Evra’s debut for United against City, he probably assumed he’d have nothing to worry about when he returned from injury. Evra was out of his depth defensively and wasn’t good enough going forward.
Things have changed dramatically since then. Patrice Evra has shown himself to be one of the best full backs in the World, whilst “Heinze” is like a swear word now for United fans.
Evra has given a press conference ahead of France’s World Cup qualifier, speaking about Manchester United and his home nation.
“When I arrived at Manchester United, they said [Gabriel] Heinze was the best, and I did what I had to do…” he said, and he’s right. Heinze’s motivation for leaving United was he knew he simply wasn’t good enough to dislodge Evra from the starting XI. The Frenchman went from strength to strength, proving himself to be a more agile defender and more efficient going forward.
However, it seems Evra has more in common with Heinze than we’d like to think, with the full back confessing he gives far more to his country than he does to his club.
When asked how he felt about the competition for places in the squad, since becoming France’s first choice left back, Evra was proud. However, he then went on to say he gave three times as much to his country than he does to Manchester United.
“I accept it as long as it’s a fair-play competition,” he added. “Eric Abidal and Gael Clichy being behind me is a good thing. If you give 100% of yourself when you play with your club, you have to give 300% with France. Here, it’s L’Equipe de France, we’re not here for fun, it’s the supreme shirt. I was congratulated during the Euros, but against Sweden [France won the friendly 3-2 away last August], people started to say: ‘he isn’t playing the same flamboyant football as in Manchester,’ so there’s no time for relaxation. But you have to accept the rules, to show your qualities every time you are called for one or 90 minutes.”
Hmmm. What do you make of this then?
To mark the anniversary of United winning the Treble with a team that had academy products at the core, Made in Manchester is available for just £3 for today only. Some of the best football writers take a player each, from Sir Bobby Charlton to Ryan Giggs, George Best to David Beckham, Duncan Edwards to Paul Scholes, and many more, with 30 articles in total. All profit goes to Trafford Macmillan so please support this fantastic cause.