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Betrayal by Ed Woodward was the reason that Patrice Evra left Manchester United

Former Manchester United left-back Patrice Evra has revealed that it was Ed Woodward’s betrayal that made him leave the Old Trafford club during the summer of 2014. The Frenchman ended up signing for Juventus after a lengthly contract standoff with United. Evra had agreed on a two-year contract with Antonio Conte’s Juventus before United extended the player’s contract by another year, which left the player with no option other than to ask to leave the club.

Juventus signed the French left-back for just £1.2 million and he stayed at the Old Lady for two and a half seasons, winning two Serie A titles, two Coppa Italia’s and one Supercoppa Italiana at the club. He left for Marseille in January 2017, signing for West Ham United and returning to the Premier League in February 2018 after a UEFA ban which also ended the player’s contract in France. Speaking to The Guardian, the Frenchman has called out Woodward and allowed some truth to be put out there, saying:

“I felt betrayed by Ed. I called Juventus to tell them I am coming. Ed then said: ‘We offer you a two-year contract, more money, the captaincy, a testimonial.’ [It was] Too late.”

United continued to struggle after Evra left the club, as they did after Sir Alex Ferguson retired at the end of the 2012/13 season with the baton handed to David Moyes to steer the club, who was sacked in April 2014 with Ryan Giggs managing the club for the remainder of the season. At the end of the 2014/15 season, Juventus had reached the UEFA Champions League final which they lost to Barcelona with Evra recalling what his ex-wife had said to him at the time, saying:

“My ex-wife said: ‘See? Manchester are nearly in the Championship and you’re in this final.’ I love Juventus but I said: ‘Even if they’re in the Championship, I prefer to be at United. Nothing can replace my love for them.’”

Evra’s final season at United was not the best. The reigning Premier League champions eventually finished seventh in the league and missed out on European football. Marouane Fellaini was the only player signed in the summer transfer window with Juan Mata arriving in January 2014. It was not enough to save Moyes from his inevitable sacking. Giggs, Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville completed the season as the manager and coaching staff with Louis van Gaal taking over as the manager.

Evra confirmed that Moyes was handed the impossible task of leading United as many of the player did not respect him. Ferguson was respected by every player at the club, and he had earned that respect. Moyes, at one stage, suggested that ‘United aspired to play like Manchester City’, which was not the way to get the players and the supporters on side. The Frenchman feels that United lost their DNA after Ferguson retired, which was the first of many things lost, saying:

“When Ferguson left, United lost their DNA, their philosophy. He was inspiring so much respect, so much fear, and if any player starts thinking he is bigger than the team then he destroyed you.

“The players always wanted to play for Ferguson. I tried my best for David Moyes but I knew it would be a disaster because players won’t respect him like that. It was a mission impossible.”

Written by John Walker

Patrice Evra talks about Sir Alex Ferguson’s hairdryer and his ‘best speech ever’

On the 6 January 2006, Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson confirmed that the club had signed Patrice Evra from AS Monaco for £5.5 million. The French left-back was a lesser known name in the game at the time but that did not matter to Ferguson or the club. On his debut, Evra was replaced at half time in a game that United lost 3-1 against rivals Manchester City. The Frenchman received Ferguson’s infamous hairdryer treatment and his agent apologised for taking him to Manchester.

Speaking to The Guardian, the French left-back recalled:

“My first introduction to the real Sir Alex was my debut against Manchester City. At half-time he gave the hairdryer for one minute to every player. It was a long 15 minutes.

“At the end he said to me in five seconds, ‘Patrice, sit down. You will learn how to play in England’. That night my agent said, ‘We made the biggest mistake coming here. I’m sorry’. I was upset but I was burning.”

All good players have bad starts at clubs it is how they overcome that which matters and Evra did very well in doing just that. Ferguson was the type of manager that would not let his players become too big headed about their ability and performances. It is a good way to manage as it worked for him. United would not have had the period of success they had without that. There were many quality players during his near 27 years in charge and many less talented players who worked hard, which made his teams.

Evra, speaking about a half time break during a victory over Tottenham Hotspur, stated:

“Everyone’s saying, ‘Patrice, you’re playing amazing’. The worst is when Ferguson stays quiet.

“He was quiet that day for five minutes. He looks straight in my eyes. ‘Patrice, do you think you’re playing good?’ I say, ‘Yeah’. Ferguson says, ‘I saw you pass the ball back to [Edwin] Van der Saar’.

“‘Yes, boss, but just one’. He said, ‘If you pass the ball back again I take you off because this is one of your worst games’. My eyes start burning because I don’t like the injustice. We won 4-0 and the next day I go to Ferguson’s office. ‘Hello, son, what’s the problem?’

“‘Boss, the problem is yesterday’. Ferguson says, ‘Patrice, some players were disrespecting the opposition. I wanted everyone focused. I picked you to give them the message because you’re strong’.”

Evra played for United for eight and a half seasons, leaving for Juventus during the summer of 2014 after seeing Ferguson retire at the end of the 2012/13 season and David Moyes come and go with Ryan Giggs ending the 2013/14 season with Paul Scholes, Nicky Butt and Phil Neville as part of his coaching team. Evra was annoyed with the way Ed Woodward handled his contract situation and was left missing Manchester, a city he had lived in for more than eight years.

Evra recalled a speech that Ferguson gave before the UEFA Champions League final in Moscow in 2008, stating:

“He didn’t talk football. He said, ‘Imagine Patrice with his 24 brothers and sisters. His parents have to feed them all on a bad street’.

“He talked about Rooney growing up in a tough part of Liverpool. Carlos Tevez coming from Argentina. He talked about difficulties for other players.

“He then said, ‘This is my victory. We have already won the Champions League. Enjoy the game’. Even now I’m having goosebumps. When Ferguson left, United lost their DNA, their philosophy.

“He was inspiring so much respect, so much fear, and if any player starts thinking he is bigger than the team then he destroyed you. The players always wanted to play for Ferguson. 

“I tried my best for David Moyes but I knew it would be a disaster because players won’t respect him like that. It was a mission impossible.”

In the eight and a half seasons that Evra played for United, he made a total of 379 appearances for the club, scoring 10 goals and 40 assists, which is not something that Luke Shaw has ever looked like matching, making Evra the best left-back to play for the club since Denis Irwin. The Frenchman helped the club win five Premier League titles, three League Cups, four FA Community Shields, one UEFA Champions League and one FIFA Club World Cup. It was a successful period for the player and the club.

Evra played for three seasons at Juventus, two seasons at Marseille and one season at West Ham United before retiring after a glittering career. Evra was capped 81 times by France, not scoring a single goal for his country. The Frenchman will always be a player that will be fondly remembered by the United supporters based on what he achieved at the club, despite it looking ropey for the player at the very start. It just goes to show that form is temporary and class is permanent.

Written by John Walker

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer asked Patrice Evra for Cristiano Ronaldo’s number to ask him about Bruno Fernandes before January transfer

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has revealed that he had to get Cristiano Ronaldo’s telephone number from former United left-back Patrice Evra before contacting him to ask about Bruno Fernandes before United purchased the Portuguese midfielder from Sporting Clube de Portugal during the January transfer window.

The Norwegian manager was aiming to get Ronaldo’s thoughts on Fernandes before United signed the player, which was a good thing to do seeing as United needed the impetus from someone this season with creativity seemingly a major problem in the squad before the 25-year-olds arrival at the Theatre of Dreams.

It has previously been reported that Ronaldo’s glowing endorsement of his compatriot’s ability helped him seal his dream move to United earlier this year, which has been a revelation in helping United achieve on the pitch with the Portuguese midfielder scoring eight goals and seven assists in 15 appearances for the club so far.

Solskjaer, explaining on the clubs High Performance podcast talked about Evra being the facilitator in him getting in contact with Ronaldo to speak about Fernandes about a possible transfer and it seems what Ronaldo said was a glowing reference to the midfielder which ended with him signing for United and pulling the string right away. Solskjaer said:

“So obviously Cristiano [Ronaldo] was an easy goal for me that I managed to get through.

“Through Patrice Evra, I managed to get hold of Cristiano and his recommendation obviously stood him [Bruno Fernandes] in good stead.”

Fernandes has done well at United so far, winning back to back Premier League Player of the Month awards for March and June, the gap being the suspension of the Premier League from mid-March until mid-June because of the coronavirus pandemic. Fernandes’ partnership with Paul Pogba in midfield is a positive one which will drive the player’s and club forward, contesting for honours in the near future.

copyright: JW