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Brown Nose

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As Harry Maguire was preparing to make his Manchester United debut as the world’s most expensive defender, back at his old stomping ground the “steal of the decade” was marshalling Leicester City’s rearguard in a goalless stalemate against Wolverhampton Wanderers.

While City’s talented attacking youngsters were toiling to break down a stubborn and well-drilled Wolves defence, Jonny Evans hardly broke sweat at King Power Stadium as he and Caglar Soyuncu got to grips with the visitors’ dangerous strike-force, although there was a worrying 90 seconds while the VAR decided to rule out what would have been a decisive goal from Leander Dendoncker.

Apart from that controversial moment, Evans was exemplary for City against Diogo Jota, who had scored a hat-trick the last time the two sides met.

After nine years playing for Sir Alex Ferguson at United, Evans knows all about what Maguire now faces after moving to Old Trafford: the expectation, the pressure, but also the prestige of pulling on the world-famous red shirt.

But while United have spent £80 million to make Maguire the most expensive English footballer ever, Evans – for whom Leicester paid just £3.5 million to trigger a release clause and snatch him away from West Bromwich Albion just over a year ago – is taking on the mantle of being one of City’s most important players.

Some City fans flippantly declared on social media that by signing Maguire, United had actually left behind City’s best defender. That’s certainly harsh on Maguire, but is more of an indication of how highly the 31-year-old is regarded by the City supporters. Brendan Rodgers is certainly a fan: he’s called Evans’ humble fee the “steal of the decade” and has been positively glowing in his praise for the experienced central defender, stating that if it wasn’t for injuries while at Old Trafford, Evans would still be pulling on the United shirt.

Rodgers even said that Evans would walk into any of the top six sides now, a statement that was music to the centre back’s ears. “It’s always nice when a manager says that,” said Evans, after another strong display alongside Soyuncu. “It gives you confidence whenever you go out. It allows you to go out and feel relaxed in your game. It gives you that security that you have been playing well, when the manager backs it up. It also gives motivation to go out and improve even more.”

Not only does Evans have a key role to play as the focal point of City’s defence, he welcomes the responsibility of helping youngsters Soyuncu, 23, and Filip Benkovic, 22, step up to the plate after Maguire’s departure and City’s struggles to sign a replacement. A £30 million bid for James Tarkowski was rejected by Burnley before the transfer deadline.

“I think a big part of it is I have to focus on my own game, making sure I’m improving and up to the standard,” Evans said. “I have aspirations myself to keep improving. When I play with someone like Caglar, like I did today, I feel if I can help him through the game, coach him or give him advice as we are going along, I will. You could see today he was excellent. Everyone was worrying about Harry going so it was important he stepped in.

“We also have Wes Morgan who’s an absolute hero here, while Filip has come back from Celtic and he’s built up a good reputation there. It’s good Caglar has come in today and that I help the young lads if I’m playing alongside them.”

Rene Meulensteen, who was assistant manager to Ferguson at United and worked closely with Evans, doesn’t believe it was injuries that hampered the Northern Ireland captain at Old Trafford, just the unfortunate fact that he was up against Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic for a place in a powerful United defence.

“We had some top, top players around then, but what I’ve always liked about Jonny is his calmness on the ball and his ability to play out from the back,” the Dutch coach told The Athletic. “He always had two good feet and read the game well. He’s a very good defender. He could stick his foot in and was really good in the air, but at the same time very good with the ball at his feet.

“He had a few injuries at United but since they let him go he has done very well, at West Brom and now at Leicester. He’s played a lot of games and is going to be very important for Leicester, especially now Maguire has gone to United. He’ll be a leader for them and even more important. He has a lot of experience in the Premier League and has international experience too.

“He had a good temperament at United. He came to the club with a good education and was a typical United player. Those are the qualities you want from a top centre back. He has been a real bargain for Leicester, 100 percent. I remember not that long ago there was talk of Arsenal and Manchester City being interested in him. I could see where they were coming from, but having said that I think he has picked an outstanding club in Leicester.

“Brendan is the sort of manager who wants to play a certain way that suits Jonny and I think he’ll do very well for him.”

Former City centre back Gerry Taggart, himself a Northern Ireland international, believes Evans’ influence at City will be absolutely crucial to their top-six aspirations.

“He has to take on extra responsibility now after Harry’s departure,” Taggart told The Athletic, “especially with young Soyuncu coming into the side, someone who is relatively inexperienced. Jonny is probably the most experienced of the outfield players in terms of the Premier League and international football. It goes without saying his responsibilities within the dressing room will grow now.

“It’s hard to say, looking back, whether he could have achieved more but for injuries at United, but when I watch Jonny I think, ‘How on earth did United ever let him go?’ OK, there may have been a question mark over his injuries but the majority weren’t serious injuries, they were just niggly ones. It was always weeks rather than months out.

“He reads the game brilliantly, is aggressive when he needs to be, he passes the ball well and he is quick. Plus, he’s a great communicator and talks to the young players. That’s a dying art.

“In Northern Ireland he stands out, head and shoulders above the other players. He’s the kingpin for his country and he is loved by the pundits over there. He’s a top, top player.”


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FOX Franks

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I've subscribed and I really don't do such things. I've read at least ten quality articles in the last week.

I feel like I want to support the idea of it. I cannot bitch about click bait rubbish everywhere and then not back a serious attempt to do better.
Has it got your seal of approval BN?


Well-Known Member
I've subscribed and I really don't do such things. I've read at least ten quality articles in the last week.

I feel like I want to support the idea of it. I cannot bitch about click bait rubbish everywhere and then not back a serious attempt to do better.
Exactly, if we want quality journalism we have to be prepared to pay for it
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