Louis van Gaal was quick to ship out what he saw as deadwood when he first arrived at Old Trafford in the summer of 2014.
Danny Welbeck, Shinji Kagawa, Nani, Anderson, Darren Fletcher, Tom Cleverley and Patrice Evra all left the club in the Dutchman’s first transfer window at Old Trafford. That trend continued in 2015 with Javier Hernandez, Angel Di Maria, Rafael, Robin Van Persie and Jonny Evans all shown the door.
In the latter’s case, West Brom snapped him up for £6 million and the deadline day move left former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson stunned. Evans’ boss at international level, Michael O’Neill, told the Belfast Telegraph that Ferguson admitted to him last year that he couldn’t believe Van Gaal’s decision.
“Having seen him come through, he felt Jonny would spend his whole career at United or certainly to the latter stages of his career.”
According to O’Neill, Evans has now become the best defender from Ireland or the UK.
“When I look around the Premier League and see British centre-backs, I don’t see anyone better.
“I look at Gary Cahill at Chelsea and Chris Smalling at Manchester United and Jonny Evans is every bit as good as them.”
“His move away from Manchester United to West Brom was maybe the right thing for him at that stage in his career but he is a player who I believe can play right at the top of the Premier League.”
The Belfast native has excelled since his move to the Hawthorns and has emerged as a leader for both club and country. He’s been central to Tony Pulis’ plans at the heart of his backline and has proven his worth on countless occasions as the Baggies continue their revival under the veteran manager.