Date: 16th March 2012 at 10:20am
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Any team will miss a player of Nemanja Vidic’s quality.

The Serbian defender has been a rock for United at the back, but a knee injury suffered against Basel in December has ruled him out until next season.

Many felt without Vidic at the back United would struggle but whilst it hasn’t been easy, United have coped largely because players have stood up and picked up the slack.

One such player is Jonny Evans. The defender was regarded as behind both Chris Smalling and Phil Jones in terms of center backs at the club, but his performances alongside Rio Ferdinand have not only pushed him to the front of the queue, but also silenced those who doubted him following his rough spell last year.

Whilst praise won’t always be forthcoming from those who have criticised him previously, former United stalwart Steve Bruce has been very impressed with the young Northern Irish defender:

“Of course, they have missed Vidic but Jonny Evans has now played over 20 league games and has very quietly done extremely well.

“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.”

Bruce also reserve praise for veteran Rio Ferdinand who, beside Evans, has helped shore up what was a porous United defence:

“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.”

For more insight from Steve Bruce and other leading managers plus exclusive Premier League highlights go to


11 responses to ““He’s only 23, he’s played in big games and has handled himself brilliantly.””

  1. sp says:

    @The people who runs this site. Where are your fives about last night game and please be honest with it

    • Chudi says:

      I was too depressed to do them, not sure if Ryan or The Red Knight will either. Would have sent it over by now.

      Here are a few off the top of my head though:

      *In all honesty we were handily beaten over both legs, last night the scoreline flattered us it could have been more.

      *Will have been a real eye opener for us, the worrying thing is pressing seems to un-nerve us; Barca, Spurs and now Athletic Club have done so and whilst we beat Spurs both Bilbao and Barca turned us over.

      *Llorente’s goal was magnificent but Rio switched off, Rooney’s goal was just as impressive and the fact he keeps scoring is a good omen for our future plans.

      *Pogba was a shining light, played very well and for me in the madness of the game and stadium came out with a bit of credit. Was able to deal with their pressing. Could have been off but that aside made a claim for his place as a first teamer.

  2. tbag says:

    We’ve been terrible all year at the back, and still people are trying to sing Jonny Evans’ praises. How many times was he walked over against Bilbao? I admit he’s improved but still allowing attackers through far too often.

    I’m sorry but he’s just not there yet, and there’s a reason Smalling and Jones remain ahead of him in the queue. Fergie’s not stupid, he knows Evans is still a liability which is why he’s 5th choice CB at the club

  3. tbag is dbag says:

    So typical for a Jonny Evans hater to come out after a loss, but they’re always silent when he is brilliant against other top sides like Spurs, Arsenal and Liverpool. How can you not see that he’s been our best cb the last 3 months? How can you say that Smalling and Jones are ahead of him, when they clearly are not? Will just like to clarify that i appreciate both Smalling and Jones, but their not as good as Evans yet. The future looks bright though.

  4. Lennyman says:

    Evans is a massive liability. It’s like watching someone from the championship pretending to be up to the job. He’s got no pace, reads the game badly and has remarkably little strength for someone of his size. This united team is the worst I have seen for a long time and the fact that squad players like carsick, park and Evans get so much game time reflects how far we have fallen. Fergie needs to sign a world class creative mid and a defensive mid who can ensure we are not bossed around like we were the other night…that way average players like Evans won’t look quite so poor

  5. tbag says:

    To say Jonny Evans has been our best cb in the last 3 months is laughable. Jones has been excellent and even Rio past his prime shows Evans up. I’m not saying Evans won’t get there in the end, but he’s constantly guilty of losing the ball in midfield and being shouldered off the ball by far slighted opposition

  6. the Rodster says:

    the biggest problem we have at the back is the full backs. Evra has lost the plot, concentration should get better with age but he loses it all to often. when he loses the ball he just strolls back leaving us short.
    The twins don’t seem to learn and are a liability

  7. Michael says:

    Jonny Evans has done very well in the last few months. He knows he was a nightmare last season, but he has been much better this season and is getting better. He was magnificent against Liverpool and played very well against Tottenham and Arsenal. He also stood tall against Norwich when they where on top of the game.

    He does have the odd lapse but he is getting better on the ball and seems more confident in his passing and using either foot. This is the best run of games he has had and for a defender playing regularly is vital.

    The fans always need a player to blame when we don’t do well. It was Fletcher and O’Shea for long periods, and now it Evans. Ferguson isn’t stupid though and he believes in Evans the player he will become. He has to keep playing well and improving his game, but he can be a top centre back.

  8. redbob says:

    I think Evans has been our best performer in defense this season alongside Jones, but in terms of stability, maybe Evans has been better.

  9. redbob says:

    Carrick has been immense for large parts of the season, what are you smoking?

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