Evans proud to reach double century
Jonny Evans was thrilled after making his first start for Manchester United in over eight years in Saturday’s 1-0 win at Burnley.
The centre-back notched his 200th Reds appearance in the hard-fought victory at Turf Moor, having been named in our line-up for the first time since March 2015.
Evans returned to the club on a short-term contract in the summer and was expecting to be used as defensive cover, but was handed his chance against the Clarets due to the injuries that have hit United’s defence in recent weeks.
And as well as helping United keep a clean sheet, the 35-year-old almost capped his return in perfect fashion with a goal, only to see his header disallowed – though he did turn provider with a brilliant long ball for Bruno Fernandes’s sensational match-winning goal.
“I loved every minute of it,” he told TNT Sports after the victory. “Sometimes you get a feeling and I couldn't wait – you get pure excitement and coming up on the bus I was just so buzzing.
“I never thought I'd ever play 200 games but it was an absolute honour, and one of the best nights of my life just to come back and play for this club again.
“To be back here and in front of these fans was a dream come true and it couldn’t have gone any better.”
On his assist for Fernandes’ volley, Evans added: “We were fighting hard to break them down and I thought we were getting a bit of time – you know, 10 or five yards in their half. So I thought I’d just maybe try and stretch them a little bit.
“We [Evans and Fernandes] had had a little bit of eye contact just before I got the ball. I thought ‘well, I've got to hit it’. And as soon as it left my foot, I thought it was a good ball because it was straight over the top.”
Evans admits his felt his career was winding down after he left Leicester City in the summer but he couldn’t turn down Erik ten Hag’s offer to return to the club where he began his career as a trainee in 2006.
“The opportunity came up and I was apprehensive in a way, but I thought there was no other option for me,” he continued.
“I've got to come here, see where it takes me and just try and get back in and be as professional as I can. And hopefully the body sees me through.”
Evans also shed some light on how he’s adapting to a different tactical approach than he experienced at his previous clubs – including his first spell at United under Sir Alex Ferguson.
“In the time I've been here I’ve been observing and seeing how to play,” he said. “It's a little bit different so I'm trying to adapt to that. It's probably taken me a little bit of time to work certain things out.
“The tactical side of playing out from the back has definitely changed. Erik ten Hag sometimes wants you to pass to the full-back and you run forward as a centre-back, and that's quite different – I can remember being told off in training for that!
“But I'm enjoying that feeling of learning something new and when you're always learning, that’s something that gets you motivated.”