Manchester United currently sit top of the Premiership with 79 points, five points in front of 2nd place Manchester City and hadn’t conceded a goal in five Premier League games before Wigan beat them on Wednesday night, but is someone’s time at United near to an end?
Sir Alex Ferguson publicly made it clear that Rio Ferdinand would not be one of the first defenders on the team sheet unless he changed his approach and method of playing the game a few months ago, but now the experienced defender has formed a solid partnership with Johnny Evans at the back, saving United on a few occasions with some last ditch defending.
Players like Michael Carrick and Jonny Evans had people questioning their abilities earlier in the season with a slow start to the campaign but both have now found their form again which has seen them cement their places in the team. The return of the midfield maestro Paul Scholes from retirement has seen the centre of the park calm down when on the ball which has improved their chances of grabbing the title.
Patrice Evra on the other hand hasn’t been able to show the defensive qualities that had the media mentioning his name alongside some of the best left backs in the world. Now, even though the Frenchman has gained the responsibility of leading his team out in front of the Old Trafford faithful in the place of injured Nemanja Vidic, has been the weak link for his side.
Attacking is still one of his strongest areas in his game as he likes to get forward and overlap whoever is playing down the left side, wither its Ashley Young, Nani or Ryan Giggs. He always makes an option for his team out wide which is a tradition of what great United full backs do, a great example is Dennis Irwin and Gary Neville in the late 1990s.
The passion is still there, especially when he comes up against Luis Suarez and Liverpool, which explains why he currently wears the captain’s armband but without it would he have been dropped by now?
His lack of defensive positioning has shown up several times in this particular season by quick and skilful wingers of the Premier League and in Europe. He commits himself to easily into tackles which puts his team in real trouble down that left hand side because wingers just knock it past him and put a dangerous ball into the box.
Another quality he lacks from a few ago is his interception skills and his ability to read the game, something that was once exceptional in the French man’s game. He gets himself in some bad situation where he’s found himself in no man’s land and people have just played the ball around him.
If Sir Alex had another experienced left back that has played at the top level for a few years consistently in his set up then Evra could have seen himself placed onto the bench but luckily for him they do not. Which imposes the question -has he gone past his best?
Maybe the competition of a stronger back up left back will get the best out of him, because as they say competition brings the best out of everyone. Currently Fabio takes that back-up role but he is considered to be a left back for the future, full with energy and skill going up and down the flanks but can make the wrong decisions when it comes to tackles.
His recent performances have seen him recover some decent form and the Old Trafford faithful will hope he can continue that until the rest of the season and come back stronger next season , hopefully with a successful Euro 2012 campaign behind him.