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.
In a weekend where Hodgson made his England managerial debut with a largely uninspiring 1-0 win against Norway, England’s Group D opponents France continued their own pre-Euro 2012 preparations with an entertaining 3-2 win against Iceland.
While the rest of the British population were tuning into to watch Soccer Aid, Hodgson and his England backroom staff will have no doubt had their eyes on events in Valenciennes. Giving some of his fringe players a chance to impress, Blanc also picked a side that contained players expected to start the Group D opener in Donetsk and there was plenty for Hodgson to think about before that June 11th meeting to ensure England doesn’t suffer defeat like the last time the two met in a European Championships opener. Steven Gerrard back-pass anyone?