Football News

“It hurts my heart” – Man Utd will regret not hiring Antonio Conte, says Patrice Evra

By Harry Edwards

Published: 13:47, 24 June 2022

Former Manchester United defender Patrice Evra has admitted it hurts him that the Red Devils did not appoint Antonio Conte as their manager last season.

After a poor start to the 2021/22 season, Man Utd were flirting with the idea of sacking Ole Gunnar Solskjaer and a Premier League clash between the Red Devils and Tottenham Hotspur appeared to be a key moment. Tottenham were also unhappy with their manager Nuno Espirito Santo and both teams had been linked with free agent Conte.

The Premier League game in October was seen as a ‘winner keeps his job’ play-off with Solskjaer won 3-0, and two days later Espirito Santo was replaced by Conte – kick starting their climb up the table. Solskjaer was dismissed by Man Utd later in November and replaced by Ralf Rangnick on an interim deal, with Erik ten Hag taking over this summer.

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The former Ajax manager has a tough task ahead of him this summer with Man Utd already losing Paul Pogba, Nemanja Matic, Edinson Cavani, Jesse Lingard and Juan Mata at the end of their contracts while in serious need of a rebuild. And while Evra has confirmed he will support Ten Hag, as he will any Man Utd manager, the Frenchman also stated he was disappointed that they didn’t appoint Conte.

“It hurts my heart because I think Conte, (Jurgen) Klopp, (Pep) Guardiola are the best mangers in the world right now and we could have had him at Manchester United,” Evra told the Mirror.

“But some people at the club, they said: ‘It’s not our style, it’s not what we’re looking for.’

“So let’s see, now we have Erik ten Hag. Let’s see what he’s going to do. He has my support. But then, even if you brought a chef in, as the manager of Man United, he’d have my full support.

“It’s a massive disappointment because Antonio Conte could have done something at Manchester United.”

When Conte took over as Tottenham manager, the north London side were ninth in the Premier League, five points behind fourth-placed West Ham and in danger of falling down the table. After beating Tottenham, Man Utd were fifth, three points behind West Ham. But Conte managed to arrest the slump and steer Tottenham to a fourth-placed finish and return to the Champions League, two points clear of fifth-placed Arsenal.

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Three weeks later, Solskjaer was sacked with Man Utd in eighth, six points behind fourth-placed West Ham and two behind Tottenham who had leapfrogged them after the Red Devils’ 4-1 humiliation at the hands of Watford. That gap to Tottenham would ultimately grow to 13 points by the end of the campaign, with Man Utd in fact closer to 13th-placed Brentford than they were the Champions League.

And Evra hailed “genius” Conte for his work at Tottenham, adding: “And you can see with Tottenham, he helped them to qualify for the Champions League.

“They have the same players, so that’s why this manager is a genius. When I arrived at Juventus, every player told me: ‘Patrice, this guy is a genius.’

“He’s addicted, he’s so passionate about football. So you’re going to run really hard. He’s going to make you sweat.

“But if you look at the Tottenham fans, they are so happy because when they see the players now, win or they lose, they give everything. That’s the mentality of Antonio Conte.

“That’s why I say it hurts. Not because it’s Tottenham – I love every team – but it’s just because Conte could have done something at United.”



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