Patrice Evra- The Rise and Fall of a Fullback

He arrived without too much fanfare, and his acquisition left many Manchester United supporters confused.  He came with Nemanja Vidic, another puzzling buy that Fergie made in January of 2006.  Not many United fans knew much about the two defenders.  They cost decent money (for the time) and we didn’t really need them.  We had enough centerbacks, so the Vidic purchase seemed like spending money on luxury when we needed players elsewhere.  And we had a leftback, a fan favourite, Gabriel H****e.  Why the hell did we need another leftback for?  He was small, did not look like he could defend and had no aerial presence.  Maybe we could make him into a winger?  We all read in Wikipedia that he did play on the wing at times for his old club.  Either way, the money that was spent that January did not appear to be a great investment.  And it looked even worse once we saw them play.

But as any armchair fan has (or should have) learned by now, we can’t judge players based on Youtube videos, or just a few games.  Evra made his debut just days after his arrival, against out bitter local rivals Manchester city.  And he was shit.  We were awful all around to be honest, but Patrice did not make a good first impression.  Or second, or third.  He was quite poor all winter and spring.  In most of his 14 appearances.  So we were left wondering, just why the hell did Fergie buy him, and what did he see in him?  Well by the end of his second season at United we all knew why.  He displaced the fan favourtie (his injury helped) and became the undisputed number one leftback at United.  He had pace, despite his small frame he was pretty good in the air, his tackling was very good.  He had good positioning and awareness, he was combative, and boy could he attack.  Pretty soon Evra became a fan favourite.  Everyone loved him, well except for the opposition players and fans.

Less than two months after his arrival Patrice picked up his first medal with United, a League Cup medal, he came on as a sub.  And he continued to pick up medals in every season he has been at United so far.  3 League medals, a Champions League medal, and 3 League Cup medals along with a CWC medal and a few lesser ones.  He has won everything at United except for the FA Cup.  And he was instrumental to United’s success in all of those seasons.  Not only a fan favourite but consistently one of our best players and one of the best leftbacks in the League and the world.  He even captained the side on several occasions.  Patrice also has shown to be a proper United player by learning about United and the club’s history.  Even though he is a foreigner he speaks about United as if he was from Salford.  And he winds up the opposition.  Arsenal fans and players I think love him the most, closely followed by Chelsea and our main rivals Liverpool and city.  So the perfect United player.

Defends properly, attacks with flair, knows what it means to be a United player, the opposition hate him, we love him.  Its a wonder why there are no great songs about him.  Only knock could be that despite his great attacking abilities he does not score enough, just 3 goals in over 220 games.  But we did not get him for goals.  We loved him when he called Arsenal players babies.  We loved him when he went after the racist groundsmen.  We loved him after he displaced a former fan favourite.  He was dependable, rarely injured, and hardly ever made mistakes.  The perfect United player.

Or so it was till about a year ago.  It was then that I noticed something wrong with his game.  He still helped out in the attack, bombing down the wing and making the opposing defenders’ lives difficult.  But a lot of times he did not track back.  His tackles became mistimed more and more.  He seemed lost at times.  Did not read the game well, was out of position more and more.  He became a bit shit.  Then there was the disastrous French World Cup in South Africa.  But he got a bit of rest and we all thought that once he got back to his proper team the old Patrice would be back.  Well he was back.  The Patrice of his early days at United, or of last Spring.  That one we don’t like so much.  And as the season progressed he became worse and worse.

Now in the last months of last season, and the first months of this, many fans simply did not see his poor play.  Evra’s reputation got him off from most of the criticism.  Instead we concentrated on Evans, Rooney, Neville, Fletcher, Carrick and others who had poor games.  Evra was our dependable great fullback, the best in the League, one of the best in the business.  He still had his moments here and there.  Still attacked with flair.  He still made a few great tackles.  So more games passed and he played as badly as he did earlier.

Finally people started to notice.  The slow trot back to our area while the opposition attack.  The frequent loss of possession, the poor tackles.  The great Evra had become a liability.  What was wrong with our great Patrice?  My theory is simple.  Fergie burned him out.  Out of the 56 games we played last season, he played in 51.  The next ones were Valencia (11 less starts, but 49 games), Rooney 44 (42 starts) and Fletcher 41 (39 starts).  There is a common theme with all those players, bar Valencia who was injured for a long time.  They have been shit this season.  Fletcher is half the player he was last season.  And Rooney, well we all know what happened with him.  In the past 4 seasons Evra has not played less than 48 games (37 already this season, all starts).  Now that would be fine for a centerback, but is a bit much for an attacking fullback like Evra.  He simply works too hard to play so much.  While in the middle of last season pretty much all our defenders were hurt, it was Evra playing alongside Carrick and Fletcher in defence.  It fell on him to lead the line.  And while we had injuries there was no one to come in and relieve him from time to time.  Fergie did not yet trust Fabio, while O’Shea was either injured or playing RB, or CB, or CM.  So, by late March and April Patrice was burned out physically and mentally.  Now, instead of resting in the summer he went to the WC with France and captained that side.  And we all know what a disaster that was.  It lead to his suspension from the team.  He just had a few short weeks of rest, along with official inquiries in France, and he came back to United.

Our poor midfield play added more pressure on defenders.  Soon we fell behind in the title race and we needed our veterans more and more.  And since Patrice is hardly ever hurt it means he’s had more starts than any other player on the team.  And so his poor form continues.  That is by no means to suggest that he has been one of our worst players, or even the worst defender, we have enough of worthy candidates for that.  However has has been far from the stellar fullback we all know and love.  And certainly not one of the best in the world anymore.  But I have not given up on Evra.  Fabio’s maturing  and good performances will mean a rest from time to time in the future.  And there will be no great pressure of a major international tournament this summer.  Finally Evra will get a proper rest.  And that should mean he will be back next season as good as ever.  He will be 30 in a month or so.  This means he still has a good couple of years in him.  In the meantime Fabio will come good.  And by 2012 might be ready to take over.  So we will be fine at LB no matter what.  There is no need to panic.  No need to sell Evra, or buy replacements.  He can still give us good service.  And for what he did over the time he has been here he deserves our loyalty and support.  So far that support has been there.  The evidence is the lack of criticism for a year’s worth of poor performances.

Now it may seem harsh to some that I felt the need to write about how shit Evra has been.  But I hardly hear a peep out of anyone about his poor play.  And I am judging him by the very high standards he has set.  So no, he has not been as shit as Evans or Carrick, but he should also not get a free ride from criticism when we are ready (and in most cases correctly) to criticize almost anyone in the squad.  And unlike with Gibson or Carrick my sentence, while harsh to some, is not a life sentence.  I do not believe that Patrice is done, just burned out a bit and in need of rest.  Once that comes all should be fine.  Hopefully.

Published in: on April 6, 2011 at 12:54 pm  Comments (16)  
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Mosque Near Ground Zero In New York?

No that’s not how its going to look like.  That picture is from Asia.  And technically its not even supposed to be a mosque, but a Muslim Cultural Center.  With a swimming pool among other things.  But that’s not the point.  This is the point:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

Yep, that is it.  At this point I should just stop writing because the argument is over.  But apparently some of the people who are against the building of this Center have heard of the First Amendment of the US Constitution and still are opposed to it.  Wow.  Just wow.  A county that prides itself on letting any one believe in any thing no matter how stupid, is against building a center that caters to a religion.  And not some cult dreamt up yesterday, but a 1400 year old religion with about 1.5 billion followers.  And why?  Because 19 lunatics attacked us in September 11, 2001 and destroyed the World Trade Center in the name of their god.

What bullshit.

Their pathetic excuse is that’s its too close to the site of the WTC.  Only two blocks away.  What the hell does that mean?  What would not be too close?  4 blocks?  Because that is how far a mosque is located from Ground Zero right now.  Its been there before the Twin Towers were built.  Does that not insult anyone?  Or hurt anyone’s feelings?  People stating that the Center should not be built are saying that the whole of Islam is somehow responsible for the 9-11 attacks.  How many called for the banning of all militias after the Oklahoma bombing?  Or is it ok when a white, right wing nutter does it?  Then its only an act of an individual lunatic.  Here a billion and a half people are held responsible.

And the pathetic thing is that there are millions of Muslims in America, American born and bred.  And apparently they had something to do with it.  Quite a few of those men serve in our military.  We even have Muslim chaplains.  But no.  Fuck you and your Allah.  What one person does in your name, you do too, no matter how insane.  So we can safely come to the conclusion that all Baptists laugh when our soldiers die.  Damn those Baptists.  How could they all be like that?  Perhaps we should stop building baptist Churches?  After all, those freaks from Westboro speak for all of them.  Yeah, I know, doesn’t make any sense.  Well neither is protesting a fucking cultural center or a mosque using the same logic you cretin.

This is how that dreaded Center will look. Nice actually.

What we have here is a movement against a whole faith.  And its not about Ground Zero, that’s just a pathetic excuse.  There are morons all over America protesting mosques left and right.  Tennessee, California, Wisconsin are just a few states.  No attacks there.  No people died because of Islam.  I bet those who specifically argue just against this one in NY, quietly are with those protesters from other parts of America.  That idiot Newt Gingrich said that there shouldn’t be a mosque built in NY till they allow churches and synagogues in Saudi Arabia.  Ah yes, that beacon of freedom that America always tried to emulate, Saudi Arabia.  Unreal.  Another idiot, some American family group leader said that there should be no mosques at all in the United States.  Yep, who cares about the Constitution, I’m angry at some dark skinned people.  Fuck ’em and their god.

Some peace loving Christians tried to burn and bomb mosques that were already standing.  Genius.  The best way to show how someone else is violent is to bomb the shit out of them and burn their house of worship.  Really?  We’re going to have a religious war now?  Middle Ages are back?  Will we have crosses on our uniforms?  Or the stars of David perhaps?  Cause the idiots at ADL are also opposed to the center near Ground Zero.  But just watch those hypocrites bite at anyone who says what they see as anti-Semitic, real or imagined.  If someone was opposed to building a synagogue or a Jewish cultural center anywhere, for any reason, they would all have kittens.  But no.  Muslim bad.  Allah bad, Muhammad bad, mosque bad.  What’s next?  No more hummus?  Freedom Dip!!!  God forbid some woman puts a towel on her wet hair.  A terrorist with a hairdryer.  She might burn though the pipes to cause a leak to flood America.  Make sure all bathrooms are watched.

What the fuck is wrong with us?  My god.  Well I don’t really do god, but you know what I mean.  We stopped hating blacks and the Irish and Italians, and the Eastern Europeans.  Well thank the Pope that the Mexicans are Catholic otherwise we would have no one to pick our strawberries or mow our lawns, we would have 50 Arizonas, but much harsher.  I don’t like to run around and accuse people of bias, bigotry or racism.  But that is just what it is.  If they  were nice and properly white like all normal people should be, and have European culture and manners we would see them for what they are.  Normal people who believe in their god as any god fearing Christian would.  Only their bad luck that a few lunatics run around bombing shit and killing innocent people in their name.

Some modern mosque, looks awesome.

Seriously.  Can we not tell the difference?  Are we that ignorant?  Surely we can’t be.  because the more we go on like that the more we resemble the extremists we hate and fear so much.  And that is the point of all this.  I am not defending Muslims.  I don’t care for them very much.  Nor for their customs.  I like to drink once in a bit, I like women in bikinis.  I don’t particularly care for their faith either.  I don’t care for any religion.  I do respect religions.  But I also fear them.  Just for that reason.  Anyone who strongly believes he is right will easily justify all kinds of shit.  I fear fundamentalists.  Of all forms, from religious nutters to warring atheists.  From those idiots who kill anything that moves and call it hunting or a sport, to those morons at PETA who would kill a person before they would see someone hurt a cockroach.  They are all frightening.  I do fear them.  But not to the point of becoming like them.  Never to the point of really hating them.

Because most Muslims, like most Christians or atheists, are just good hard working people who want to live out their lives in a peaceful good way.  And just as I do not condemn all American Protestants whenever Par Robertson says something truly stupid and hurtful.  I do not condemn all atheists whenever one says idiotic things about religion.  I also do not condemn all of Islam for 9-11.  And it was my city they attacked.  They killed people I knew.  They destroyed two of my favourite buildings.  I really did love the Twin Towers.  But if all of Islam was like those 19 fanatical dicks then we would be losing by now.  Because guess what.  Its hard to kill one and a half billion people.  But they don’t all want to kill us.  They don’t all want to do Jihad and get virgins.  The ones that do hate the West, hate us for what we are and for what we stand.  They sure as shit would not let anyone build a church in Afghanistan.  In fact the Taliban blew up ancient Buddhist statues when they were running Afghanistan.

Destroyed by the Taliban

Do we really want to take example from Taliban?  What makes us any better when we act like that?  Yoda said:  Fear is the path to the dark side. Fear leads to anger. Anger leads to hate. Hate leads to suffering. He was wise.  We can not become what we fear.  But slowly we are.  When we act like intolerant twats.  No one is telling you to like the Muslims.  But you have to tolerate them.  This is what America is all about.  A motley collection of people not killing each other.  One would hope that in the XXI century Americans would be more enlightened then the Spanish inquisitors.  But one might be wrong.  And that is sad.  And some of our leaders and opinion makers fail us once again.  Once again they take the wrong stand aimed at the wrong people.  And some are quite learned.  Some know better.  Yet they do it any way.  For a rating point.  For a future vote.  Some like Beck love to bring up Nazism all the time.  Well this is how they started.  With hate.  They did not go out on the first day and say:  We’re going to murder millions of Jews for no good reason.  No, they started preparing people by doing the little things first. It was only then that the Holocaust became possible.  Now of course America is not likely to become like the Nazis.  But we’re more and more starting to resemble those intolerant and hateful Islamic fundamentalists we hate so much.