Erik ten Hag hailed Jonny Evans’ character after Manchester United’s 1-0 win over Burnley on Saturday night.
The Northern Irishman started his first United game since March 2015, and put in a superb showing at the back. Evans scored in the first half, although it was subsequently ruled out for an offside call on Rasmus Hojlund, before he also provided a long-range crossfield pass for Bruno Fernandes’ goal on the stroke of half-time.
Evans also barely put a foot out of place in defence and helped lead United to a first clean sheet since the opening weekend of the season. The Northern Irishman, unsurprisingly, picked up the post-match man-of-the-match award and earned our highest rating (8/10).
Speaking after the match, Ten Hag said he was delighted with how seamlessly Evans slotted in at the back, having only played six minutes prior to the Burnley win. “We have problems and in this moment a lot is against us: injuries, decisions and we have all seen the examples,” said the Dutchman.
“We are very happy to have a player like Jonny Evans in the squad. He comes in and he is calm, composed, has character, and a good skill set. When you have things against you, you can bounce back when you have the character in the squad to do that.
Evans signed a year-long contract with United on transfer deadline day, to complete a remarkable summer for the ex-Leicester City man. Evans returned to the Red Devils in July to gain fitness with the Under-23s, before he penned a short-term contract to cover pre-season, that was ultimately extended into the season.
Explaining that decision, Ten Hag said: “We have seen that in the training. In the summer, when I heard he was in to train with the Under-23s, I said ‘Fletch [Darren Fletcher], go bring him with the first team, maybe he can help us’. I saw in pre-season with the schedule and the numbers in the squad and we decided to sign him because he can really contribute to the squad. Today you saw that.”
Reflecting on an important three points, Ten Hag added: "This was a must win and we knew that. The team responded on the pitch. You could see the togetherness in the dressing room. It was a squad performance."