Date:17th April 2011 at 9:00pm
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It is crazy to believe that this is even being debated, but such has been the dip in form of Manchester United’s left-back Patrice Evra the question has to be raised, has he become a liability?

Two years ago, in both the Premier League and the Champions League, Patrice Evra was thought of as Manchester United’s most consistent players. Clearly the player has not lost any ability, but there has been a change in his mentality. Is his mentality right to lead Manchester United into a Champions League semi final and two crucial games against Arsenal and Chelsea?

The Champions League semi final second leg against Chelsea was a game in which Manchester United were comfortable, even with the second half introduction of Didier Drogba. Patrice Evra found himself out of position on so many occasions, Drogba was able to roll of the full back very easily, something that led to Chelsea’s goal at Old Trafford. Last season in the Champions League quarter final first leg, Evra was found wanting against Bayern Munich. Against lesser opposition in a less important fixture you can sometimes excuse such sloppiness, however these are big games. Manchester United need their back four to be switched on in these high pressure games – is Evra letting the side down?

It is an argument that seems a little flawed.

Patrice Evra is still one of the best full backs going forward. He is constantly bombing up and down the line, looking to drive Manchester United forward, and that part of his game hasn’t changed too much over the years. However, unlike Ashley Cole, it seems as though Patrice Evra has lost a certain amount of confidence in the defensive aspect of his game. Very rarely would you see Evra diving in at wingers, but nowadays it is the norm. A fair excuse for his dip in form would be what happened at the World Cup and his subsequent suspension from the France national team. His mind at the start of the season could have been all over the place, something Sir Alex Ferguson must have been wary of. However, he has got himself back into the France team and you would feel whatever happened at the World Cup is now behind him.

Manchester United do not have a player that could replace Evra, and there are few players in Europe that are considered better than him. I am not for one minute arguing that Manchester United should replace the full back, merely that a bit of competition may bring Evra back to the level he set himself. There is no doubt that his standards have dropped this season and he must improve. Manchester United are not carrying Evra yet, but in a consistent back four he is looking ragged as we approach the end of the season.

As it stands he is still at a level where he is a first choice player. However, if he continues to perform like he did against Chelsea and yesterday evening against Manchester City, a player that is now 30 may not be considered as indispensable as he once was.

Piece courtesy of Tom Costello from This Is Futbol

This is something I alluded to in my brief analysis of the game yesterday, Evra seems a step behind. Whilst this piece notes the fiasco at the World Cup it doesn’t account for the sheer volume of games he has played. I agree that he doesn’t need replacing, he is still one of if not the best left back in the world but just needs to recharge his batteries.

In terms of no competition, Fabio is an option to consider if we are going to rest him or hopefully we can bring Rafael back in when he is fit and give John O’Shea a spell at left back. This is all easy to say though in the midst of a tight title run in and in the Champions League semi final it is not the time to start experimenting. Summer can’t come quick enough for Pat it seems. – Chudi