Jonny Evans Might Never Get a Better Chance to Be a Manchester United Star

Rob Dawson@@RobDawsonMENManchester United CorrespondentJuly 10, 2014

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - SEPTEMBER 25:  Jonny Evans of Manchester United tackles Luis Suarez of Liverpool during the Capital One Cup Third Round match betwen Manchester United and Liverpool at Old Trafford on September 25, 2013 in Manchester, England.  (Photo by Julian Finney/Getty Images)
Julian Finney/Getty Images

If Manchester United centre-backs were English royalty, Jonny Evans would have been crowned king this summer.

The reigning monarchs, Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic, have gone. One abdicated, one more forcibly removed.

Evans is next in line. He's been quietly learning how things work, knowing that one day his time would come. He's not quite Prince Charles, but he's been waiting a while.

It looks like Evans will jet off on United's pre-season tour of the United States next Friday as the senior centre-half. At 26 years old and with 181 games under his belt, it's not before time.

MANCHESTER, ENGLAND - MAY 12:  Rio Ferdinand of Manchester United celebrates scoring the winning goal with team-mate Nemanja Vidic during the Barclays Premier League match between Manchester United and Swansea City at Old Trafford on May 12, 2013 in Manch
Alex Livesey/Getty Images

It's his chance to impress Louis van Gaal, his new manager. To make his case to be included in the Dutchman's first competitive XI against Swansea at Old Trafford on August 16.

Like so many of the squad, Evans didn't enjoy his best year last season. 

Two seasons ago, it seemed that Sir Alex Ferguson was in the process of breaking up the Ferdinand-Vidic partnership to find a more permanent place for the Northern Ireland international.

In the Champions League second round first leg against Real Madrid in the Bernabeu, Ferguson paired Evans with Ferdinand to deal with Cristiano Ronaldo, Karim Benzema and Angel Di Maria.

MADRID, SPAIN - FEBRUARY 13:  Cristiano Ronaldo of Real Madrid is put under pressure by Jonny Evans and Phil Jones of Manchester United  during the UEFA Champions League Round of 16 first leg match between Real Madrid and Manchester United at Estadio Sant
Gonzalo Arroyo Moreno/Getty Images

He could have picked Vidic, who played 90 minutes in a 2-0 win over Everton three days earlier. He chose Evans instead.

Evans had to start again with David Moyes at the beginning of last season. But the new manager put his faith in Ferdinand and Vidic, who were paired together for the first six games of the season.

Evans had to wait until the end of September to start his first game in the Premier League. A calf injury suffered in early February ruined the rest of his season.

With Ferdinand and Vidic moved on, it's unlikely Evans will ever get a better chance to establish himself as a first-team regular. 

He'll face competition. Phil Jones and Chris Smalling harbour the same ambitions. 

STOKE ON TRENT, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 01: Jonny Evans of Manchester United leaves the field with an injury during the Barclays Premier League match between Stoke City and Manchester United at Britannia Stadium on February 1, 2014 in Stoke on Trent, England.
Jamie McDonald/Getty Images

And Van Gaal's recruitment drive, that has already seen Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera arrive, hasn't finished. It could yet include Thomas Vermaelen or Stefan De Vrij. 

But with each passing day that United don't sign a new centre-half, Evans' chances of being first choice next season get better and better.

Finally at the head of the queue he's got the opportunity over the coming weeks to make an impression on Van Gaal and cement a place at the heart of United's defence.

He might never be better placed to do so.