When Jonny Evans was signed this summer by Manchester United, there were never any expectations that he would play for the club this regular season.
The 35-year-old Northern Ireland international was only brought in on a short-term deal, and the whole point was to get him back in fighting shape so that he could continue his long career elsewhere.
However, as John Lennon famously said “life is what happens when you’re busy making other plans.” Evans stuck around, an injury crisis occurred at all positions in the back line for United, and opportunity presented itself.
Tonight saw Jonny Evans make his first start for the club since 2015, and this appearance at the Turf Moor marked his 200th in a United shirt.
He made the most of it, setting up Bruno Fernandes for the game’s only goal as the visitors bested Burnley 1-0.
I loved every minute of it,” he said in post game.
“Before the game you get a feeling, I couldn’t wait, it was just pure excitement. Coming up here on the bus I was buzzing. That was my 200th game for Man Utd, I never thought I would ever reach that figure — the best night of my life.
“When you get to a certain age, you start to wind down your career. I got the call [from United] and didn’t have another option, so I just took it and tried to do my best in training and take my chance. You then just hope your body sees you through.
“It was never a thought that I would come in and be a starter — I was told that my role would be to provide competition and that is how I have approached it. With a few injuries, I then had the chance to start tonight.
“I think I slotted in well tonight and really added my experience to the side.”
This was a huge win for United, who badly needed any kind of victory, in any competition, over any opponent. Their last win came back on August 26, and their last three results were all losses where they shipped out 3+ goals.
As for Jonny Evans, he signed a one year deal with the club three weeks ago. Evans and Man United will next welcome in Crystal Palace, on Tuesday night, for a third round EFL Cup clash.
They’ll then welcome the Eagles back in again, four days later, for a league clash.
Paul M. Banks is the owner/manager of The Sports Bank. He’s also the author of “Transatlantic Passage: How the English Premier League Redefined Soccer in America,” and “No, I Can’t Get You Free Tickets: Lessons Learned From a Life in the Sports Media Industry.”
He’s written for numerous publications, including the New York Daily News, Sports Illustrated and the Chicago Tribune. He regularly appears on NTD News and WGN News Now. Follow the website on Twitter and Instagram.