Jonny Evans has explained that Manchester United were the only club he could have joined after leaving Leicester City in the summer – and Erik ten Hag is now reaping the rewards.
Evans earned his first start of the season for Man Utd in their 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday night, providing the assist for the winner by Bruno Fernandes. It was a situation the defender might not have envisaged when he was released by Leicester following their relegation from the Premier League.
“I loved every minute of it,” he said.
“Coming up here on the bus I was buzzing. That was my 200th game for Man Utd. I never thought I would ever reach that figure. It’s the best night of my life.
“When you get to a certain age you start to wind down your career. I got the call from United and didn’t have another option, so I just took it and tried to do my best in training and take my chance.
“I was told my role would be to provide competition and that is how I have approached it. With a few injuries I then had the chance to start tonight.”
Manager Ten Hag hailed Evans as someone who can be ‘massively important’ to his plans, elaborating on how he decided to integrate him back into the first team.
“We are very happy to have a player like Jonny Evans in the squad,” Ten Hag added. “He comes in and he is calm, composed, he has character and a good skillset.
“Even when you have things against you, you can bounce back and then you have the character in the team to do that.
“In the summer, I heard he was in to train with the under-23s, I said ‘Fletch (technical director Darren Fletcher), come bring him in with the first team. Maybe he can help us’.
“I already saw in pre-season with the schedule, the problems with the numbers in the squad. We decided to sign him because I think he can really contribute to the squad and today you have seen how massively important he can be.”
Ferdinand lauds Evans performance
Evans earned praise from his former Man Utd teammate Rio Ferdinand for his ‘outstanding’ performance.
“I thought Jonny Evans was outstanding at the back, marshalled his back line very well, showing his leadership skills, his experience,” Ferdinand told TNT Sports.
“He played a part in the goal, and a captain’s moment from Bruno Fernandes. That’s got them over the line today.
“It’s a huge result for Manchester United. The narrative has been very negative of late, and you need to stop that. The three points does a good job of starting to turn the tide.”