6. JONNY EVANS
|Birthdate:||02 Jan 1988|
|Birthplace:||Belfast, Northern Ireland|
|Joined United:||01 Jul 2006|
|United Debut:||26 Sept 2007 v Coventry City (H)|
Belfast-born Jonathan Evans is a tall and agile centre-back. An intelligent defender, he combines an uncompromising physical approach with the ability to pass the ball out from the back.
Jonny has risen through the United ranks to become an integral part of the first-team squad and 2011/12 was the season in which he truly came to the fore. The Northern Ireland international – who received his first call-up before he had even made his United debut – has blossomed into one of the best young defenders around. Handed a Champions League squad number at the start of the 2005/06 season, aged just 17, Evans was a burgeoning talent waiting to burst to prominence. Given his opportunity by the sale of Gerard Pique in the summer of 2008, Jonny did that during the course of the 2008/09 campaign. Whenever called upon, Jonny’s ice-cool calm is immediately apparent, even on huge stages like the San Siro or Stamford Bridge. His capacity for handling pressure is incredible, and stems partially from the extensive experience he gained out on loan. Roy Keane, Jonny’s boyhood hero, enlisted his former team-mate when he took the managerial reins at Sunderland, and Evans played a lead role in helping the Black Cats reach the Premier League. Midway through the 2007/08 campaign, by which time Jonny had made his United debut against Coventry, Keane came calling again and took Evans back to the Stadium of Light for another six months. After returning from Wearside, he featured in every one of United’s 2008/09 pre-season games, a telling precursor of the youngster’s growing status in the eyes of Sir Alex Ferguson. Sure enough, Evans quickly became the Reds’ contingency plan for whenever the rock-solid partnership of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic was broken up, filling the breach in every competition – including the Reds’ Club World Cup final and League Cup final victories, while 16 Premier League starts ensured a hat-trick of medals for the defender. A further 18 appearances, including the League Cup final win over Aston Villa, followed in 2009/10, and he was also called upon at the start of 2010/11 in the absence of Ferdinand through injury. Later in the season Evans found himself competing with summer signing Chris Smalling for his place, and in March he picked up a straight red card for a tackle on Bolton’s Stuart Holden. But the campaign finished on a high note as 13 league appearances were enough to earn Evans another winners’ medal. The 2011/12 season was arguably Evans’ best in a red shirt. Deputising for the injured Vidic, he made 28 league starts and found some fantastic form through playing regularly. He also broke his goal-duck in United’s 5-0 demolition of Wolves in March.