Farewell United Legend Patrice Evra
There's no telling that Patrice Evra's departure will be mourned. Perhaps it may have been the right time for both parties to move forward, and despite the overwhelming amount of speculation that circulated around the Frenchman with a proposed move to Juventus for several weeks, it was a hard one to stomach when the transfer was officially announced.
This article could so easily be filled and disguised as a tribute for Pat, and bombarded with paragraphs upon paragraphs of memorable Evra quotes and moments from the past eight and a half years, but quite frankly it's difficult to know where to start and where to end with them since there have been many, many fond and entertaining ones at that.
But nevertheless, it's also difficult to not mention one or two along the way. In eight years, Evra won five Premier League titles, three League Cups, the Club World Cup and one Champions League trophy. And who can forget the five Community Shields?
But before all that ever became a reality, it was Sir Alex Ferguson who bought Evra, alongside Nemanja Vidic in the winter window of 2006 from AS Monaco. Little did he, or anyone at the time know that they would be historic signings that are arguably one of Ferguson's best purchases ever. All for a bargain combined fee of £12.5 million.
Evra racked up 379 games in total, a number that comes by no surprise given that across an eight and a half year spell he has spent an overwhelming majority of it—since taking Gabriel Heinze's spot—as the first choice left back for Manchester United.
This comes by no fault of his, even if his ability to run up and down the flank became drowsier in his final and penultimate seasons as a Red. The lack of competition given to him by David Moyes and Ferguson played a big part in him playing week in and out when he may not have necessarily been at his best most weeks.
The need to push him on was not put into fifth gear in the latter stages of his career at United since Fabio provided very little competition in challenging for the spot, only to be sold to Cardiff under Moyes, and Alexander Buttner—who was brought in by Ferguson for that sole purpose and also failed to deliver—was sold by current United manager Louis Van Gaal.
However, credit must be due to Evra, who at 33-years-old, still continued to be consistent at the elite level of the sport to play for 90 minutes when fit, once or even twice a week. Evra also finished the season with the most number of games played as an outfield player.
Once Luke Shaw was signed from Southampton and Evra had signed the one year extension at the end of the season, it looked a certainty that Evra would act as the ideal role model to take Shaw under his wing and teach him the value of playing for Manchester United as well being the left back that the team will need moving forward.
In terms of this, the departure of Evra comes as a massive blow for not only Shaw, but also United as a whole. The experienced defender leaves in the same summer as United veterans Rio Ferdinand, Ryan Giggs and Vidic. Quite fitting, but nonetheless unappealing for the club who were said to be very reluctant in letting Evra leave for Juventus in the first instance.
No doubt that Evra would have had to play a sporadic role, one he would have been unfamiliar with. He has said to accept that, as the teenage left back is arguably in the early stages of becoming a world-beater some day and would have needed more games, especially with the absence of Champions League football this season to develop.
Perhaps that step would have been easier with someone who may have understood United more than most to guide him through the process. But Shaw thinks he is ready to go, oozing with confidence that he can fill the boots of Evra.
Good luck to him, I guess. No pressure, son.
My favourite Patrice Evra moment on the pitch, like most, came in the form of last season, oddly enough. Yes, that strike against Bayern Munich in the quarter-final of the Champions League—that moment of hope in a torrid season.
It was not meant to be, but from the huddle to the kiss of the badge, in that brief moment it showed just how well Paddy got United to the very end. He's come a long way since moaning about the weather and food when he first arrived.
Off the pitch, the moments are in abundance. From learning Korean for the sake of moving the bromance into intense levels with Park Ji-Sung, to biting a fake arm (of Ivanovic's) in United's title celebrations, and of course celebrating United's 2-1 over Liverpool by, erm, celebrating in front of Suarez with arms wide open in front of the United fans.
For most, he'd definitely feature as an all-time favourite, since he was, well, a fan favourite for years. Fan favourites tend to not only play for themselves, but also cause an imbalance so as to play for the crest on their shirt that meant more than most. Pat Evra is unanimously one of those.
Merci for the memories, Pat. Bonne chance!