Despite Manchester United’s solid start to the season, left back Patrice Evra is already under heavy pressure to keep his place in the team. Can he do enough to stay ahead of Alexander Buttner in the pecking order?
Patrice Evra is one of the most experienced players in the Manchester United team. He has won multiple trophies with the club including a European Cup. However, his role in the side is being questioned this season as his defensive skills come under scrutiny and his lack of pace of often commented on.
Evra insist that he is not ready to move aside for the younger Alexander Buttner, signed as his long term replacement over the summer. It appears the Frenchman has a lot more desire to have success in a United shirt instead of settling for a token appearance every week or fortnight. He is very bullish in his determination to stay in the side and it’s far to say that Buttner hasn’t yet done enough to oust him from his position.
“If someone is there or not I will fight because you have to respect the shirt. When you play for Manchester United that is the big challenge. Maybe last year there wasn't enough competition on every part of the pitch. They forget how I got to become Manchester United's left-back. I fought with two great players in Gabriel Heinze and Mikael Silvestre,” Evra said on the BBC football website.
It’s very clear that Evra feels as though he deserves to be in the United side. However, there have been flaws in his game this season which have been exposed. Flaws that Buttner is yet to show and flaws he can cover. The biggest which is often commented on is Evra’s lack of pace.
As a full back this is very important because right and left sided defenders are often tasked with keeping on top of the opposition wingers. Wingers are normally the quickest players in a side. The effect this is having on the United defence is that it forces Evra to drop deeper and narrower which leaves more space down the side of the pitch.
If Evra does not want to fall victim to being replaced by a younger and better model then he needs to find ways to compensate for this. One possible suggestion is for him to make challenges and try to win the ball back further up the pitch. If he is successful then United are automatically in a great position to attack. If he fails and gives away a free kick then it gives him time to get back and organised in the United back four.
If the lack of pace is not addressed then sooner or later a winger is going to get in down the left side of United’s team. He’ll put in crosses which a decent striker will be good enough to convert. Evra will lose his place in the team as Buttner comes in to compensate for the lack of pace down the left of the pitch.
For now he is the main man but if he doesn’t do as all good players do and find a way to make his game stronger as he gets older then it won’t be too long before Evra ends up like Ledley King playing once a fortnight and it won’t be because he’s injured.