Manchester United legend Patrice Evra has launched defences of former teammates Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Pogba, lamenting the current state of affairs at Old Trafford ahead of Erik ten Hag’s reign
Patrice Evra has dismissed Cristiano Ronaldo’s critics as “jealous” in a fresh defence of the Manchester United superstar – and claimed that he saw Paul Pogba’s sorry situation coming.
The ex-Red Devils left-back has once again laid bare his feelings amid United’s perilous predicament, as new manager Erik ten Hag sets out on his long-awaited revolution. Old teammate Ronaldo received plenty of criticism throughout a miserable season for the Red Devils, despite scoring 24 Premier League and Champions League goals.
Evra, however, believes that his ex-United pal would be welcome at any top club, while their best players wouldn’t fare as well thanks to the current state of affairs at Old Trafford. “Cristiano – it’s not a question,” the Frenchman told Mirror Football after featuring in a legends charity match against eternal enemies Liverpool on Saturday, which raised £1.3million.
“Can we leave this guy alone? He’s got 18 [league] goals. Where would we be if Cristiano wasn’t in this squad? That’s why when people talk about him, I’m like, ‘those people are not in peace with themselves or they are jealous’. It’s so crazy, I don’t even want to answer that question anymore because I’ve answered so many times.
“I will give you one thing: put Cristiano Ronaldo in the Manchester City, Liverpool or Chelsea team [and he will do well]. But put one of their best players – put Mo Salah in United – [he will struggle] like every player. And they say it’s because he’s my friend or whatever. No. I’m in love with his work ethic, with his professionalism. He’s 37. This guy, even at 40, will still score goals. And he’s here for that, that’s what people want from him.
“So, that’s why when people ask me about Cristiano, sometimes I just don’t wanna answer anymore because he’s proved so many times – hat-tricks or whatever. And the funny part is when people say he doesn’t defend. When he won the Ballon d’Or in 2008, Cristiano’s best quality was not to defend. So let’s talk about what he’s good at, and what he’s good at is to score goals.”
Fortunately for him and any agreeing fans, though, Ten Hag looks set to keep Ronaldo around for the final year of his contract. Conversely, one man set to be packing his bags this summer is mercurial midfielder Pogba, who became Evra’s “little brother” over two years together at Juventus while at opposite ends of their respective careers.
In 2016, the Red Devils splashed out £89million to bring Pogba – a product of their own acclaimed academy – back to Manchester. But after six tumultuous years in the senior setup under three different managers, United now look set to let their graduate leave for free – just as they did a decade ago – due to his deal expiring next month and no burning desire from either party to renew terms. The World Cup winners’ plight has disappointed and frustrated supporters in equal measure; none more so than Evra, who admits that “it’s time to go.”
“I had the feeling it would never work from the beginning,” he added. “Because, first of all, he came with that massive price tag. Everyone expects Paul to score three goals per game – he’s a midfielder. I ask everyone to look at the statistics from when Paul was playing for Juventus to now. He’s done much better than when he was playing for Juventus.
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“Paul was everything from outside; social media, people were talking about his haircut when he was not playing, the Jose Mourinho-Paul Pogba saga. It was like they were bigger than the club. I was going mad, sometimes we were talking about Liverpool versus Manchester United and the media were talking about Paul Pogba and Jose Mourinho.
“It’s sad because of the potential he’s got. He gets booed now which is unbelievable because the United fans never boo a player. It’s time to go, good luck to him but it’s sad because Paul loves United. He was even in depression but Paul was always the scapegoat. But he could’ve been more consistent, he also has to take some responsibility. But I think it’s unfair and I think people have been too harsh on him.”