I’m sure even Patrice Evra would admit that he has endured one of his toughest seasons in a United shirt. Captaining a side who were knocked out of the Champions League at the group stages, outclassed in the Europa League by Athletic Bilbao and cruelly missing out on the Premier League title on the last day on goal difference. On a personal level there was the Luis Suarez affair, the sudden loss of his brother and the ongoing conflict within the French squad.
Assertions that Evra’s best years are now behind him seem hasty judging by these stats on the Frenchman’s performances over recent seasons, but having been the only viable left back option at the club for so long, the lack of competition has perhaps seen some complacency creep into certain aspects of his game.
Belgium coach Georges Leekens said that his young team had ‘the tools to succeed in the future, if not now’ with just two games left in the quest for Euro 2012 finals qualification.
When Bert van Marwijk decided against taking Ruud Van Nistelrooy to the World Cup in South Africa this summer, the veteran striker understandably believed his eventful love affair with the Oranje was over. After three well taken goals in the opening two games for Hamburg, the predatory Dutchman looks back to his sharp best and finds his services are required for international duty once again for the opening games of Netherlands’s Euro 2012 campaign.
Injury to Robin Van Persie has opened the door for Ruud’s return, but Bert van Marwijk’s decision to turn to the 34-year-old who will be 36 when the European Championships in Poland and Ukraine comes around, surely must also raise questions about the pool of striking talent the manager currently has to choose from.