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Jonny Evans’ decision to finally leave Manchester United last summer is looking like a smart one and his form this term suggests he has found a new lease of life playing regularly at West Brom.
Evans spent seven seasons in the first-team set-up at Old Trafford without ever fully cementing himself as one of United’s first-choice centre backs.
In only two of those seasons did he appear in over half of Man United’s Premier League games and although his medal collection may suggest otherwise, perhaps he should have left Old Trafford sooner.
Along with Darren Fletcher, who has also excelled at the Hawthorns following his move South, Evans has become for the first time in his career at club level at least, an integral player for his team and he seems to be thriving on the extra responsibility.
Despite five short-term injury lay-offs, the Northern Irishman has started 24 times for the Baggies in the league, a figure he reached just once for the Red Devils and he is a big reason why West Brom are safely positioned in mid-table as opposed to fighting against the drop.
Some of his best performances have come in resolute defensive efforts, typical of Tony Pulis sides as West Brom have picked up 1-0 wins against Newcastle, Everton, Norwich and local rivals Aston Villa.
Seven of Albion’s 10 Premier League wins this term have been by that margin and only two sides outside of the top five have a better defensive record than them.
Certainly there are numerous clubs from mid-table down who must be regretting not making a move for Evans last summer given he only left Old Trafford in the final days of the transfer window.
He has been employed predominantly in his preferred central defensive role at the Hawthorns but has also performed well at left back on eight occasions this term and has even slotted into the midfield a few times and his composed displays suggest he could even have a long-term future in that position, particularly as he gets towards the end of his career.
Best football of his career
That is some way off though with Evans still just 28 and almost certainly playing the best football of his career to date.
He is likely to form the core of the West Brom defence for several years to come and barring injuries will feature in a major international tournament this summer for the first time where he will be arguably Northern Ireland’s most important player as they take on the might of Germany as well as Poland and Ukraine in a tricky Euro 2016 group.
Written by Mark Sochon
Follow Mark on Twitter @tikitakagol
Check out his brilliant blog on all things La Liga, Tiki-Taka-Gol!
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