Football News

Souness names ex-Man Utd defender who would walk back into Solskjaer’s team

By Ben Green

Published: 18:25, 30 September 2019

Graeme Souness believes former Manchester United centre-back Jonny Evans would be a guaranteed starter at the back for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

The Belfast-born defender came through United’s esteemed academy before going on to feature in nearly 200 matches for the Red Devils but left in 2015.

Evans at Old Trafford: Five things to know…

  • Evans was an academy graduate at Man Utd and made his debut under Sir Alex Ferguson.
  • He went on to make 198 appearances for the club, winning three Premier League titles.
  • However, Evans never truly cemented a consistent starting berth for the club.
  • He failed to appear in more than 30 matches during a single PL season and ultimately left for West Brom in 2015.
  • Since then the 31-year-old has thrived in the league for both the Baggies and Leicester; Souness now believes he would walk back into Solskjaer’s team.

He has since turned out for West Bromwich Albion and more recently Leicester City, where his centre-back partnership with Caglar Soyuncu has blossomed this season, helping guide the Foxes to third in the Premier League.

Brendan Rodgers’ side have thus far conceded just five league goals, the least number of any club in the league.

And while it took Solskjaer £80m to prise Harry Maguire from the King Power to Old Trafford over the summer, Souness believes his ex-Leicester City partner would have no trouble making the Norwegian’s starting XI.

“Jonny Evans and [Caglar] Soyuncu will enjoy that midfield in front of them,’ Souness told Sky Sports prior to Leicester’s 5-0 win over Newcastle. “Evans is 31 and has maybe not hit his peak yet.

“He walks into the Manchester United team for me when you look at what United have at the back.

“He can make passes, senses danger. He’s all round a top class centre-half for me.”

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Souness: midfield must improve or Maguire is “money down the drain”

Despite Souness discussing Evans’ credentials and how the defender would improve Solskjaer’s backline, the Liverpool legend ultimately believes the buck stops with United’s midfield.

He believes a lack of ability in the middle of the park has accentuated United’s shortcomings at the back, and insists improvements will need to be made or Solskjaer’s £125m investment on defenders over the summer will prove wasteful.

In his column for The Times, he wrote: “When I played in midfield, I had one thought: ‘I’m going to stop the guy I’m playing against today, then develop my own game from there.’

“In contrast, Pogba’s first thought is to show everybody how clever and cute he can be.

“If that’s the example your main man in midfield is setting, you’re too easy to play against, and until they fix it, United’s back five will be fire-fighting.

“They can spend massively on Maguire, give Victor Lindelof a new five-year deal, De Gea four more lucrative years and sign Wan-Bissaka for £50m and it will all be money down the drain.”