Evans: Fergie gamble paid off

With a Champions League semi-final against Schalke looming on

Tuesday, Ferguson opted to rest a number of senior stars for the

Premier League tussle against Everton. Skipper Nemanja Vidic and

energetic midfielder Park Ji-sung did not even make the bench,

while Ryan Giggs, Michael Carrick and Patrice Evra were among the

substitutes. After 83 minutes of a vital game, the move appeared to

have backfired, but an Antonio Valencia cross and Javier Hernandez

downward header later, Ferguson had been vindicated and United were

surging towards a record 19th title. “The manager made an awful lot

of changes, including myself, and there were people who had not

played for a while,” Evans said. “It was a big gamble. I am sure

some people thought that when they looked at the team sheet. But

that is what the manager does and it has paid off.” That it did so

was not entirely down to Hernandez. Wayne Rooney continues to show

impressive versatility and was once again effective when he dropped

back into a midfield role. Anderson won man-of-the-match plaudits

for an industrious display in central midfield, whilst Evans

produced his best performance of a below-par season alongside Rio

Ferdinand. However, without the 19th goal of an incredible debut

campaign by Hernandez, it would have counted for nothing. So on the

weekend when Fernando Torres scored his first goal since making a

£50million switch to Chelsea from Liverpool, it was little

wonder that new Twitter convert Rooney claimed Hernandez, who cost

just £7million from Chivas 12 months ago, is the “buy of the

century”. Evans did not quite go that far, but he did list

Hernandez as the buy of the season. “You could say that because of

the number of important goals he has scored for us,” the Northern

Ireland defender said. “We got to see little glimpses of him during

the World Cup and you could see he had pace, but no-one knew much

about him. “He reminds me of an old-fashioned type centre-forward.

People don’t realise he is quite a strong lad with a great jump.

Also, he knows where the goal is.” More than that, Hernandez is

utterly selfless. Time and again this season, the 22-year-old has

been asked to reflect on yet another important goal. The answer is

always the same. “We needed those three points, it didn’t matter

who scored,” he said. “We always think about the team. That is the

most important thing. We don’t need to be selfish and think only

about scoring ourselves. “This season has been a dream come true

for me. I have scored 19 goals and we have almost won the Premier

League. It is an unbelievable thing. “But if I had the chance to

swap my 19 goals for a lot of championships for this team, I would

do it.” And unlike some who pay lip-service to the idea of

teamwork, Hernandez means it. Whether that will be enough to earn

him a starting slot in Tuesday’s first leg with Schalke is open to

debate. His two effective contributions to the quarter-final

triumph over Chelsea are bound to help, although the German outfit

are felt to be slightly quicker at the back than Carlo Ancelotti’s

men. That, for the fourth time in five seasons, United have to

combine preparations for such a massive game with a title drive is

testament to the spirit Ferguson has instilled into his players.

Without Cristiano Ronaldo and Carlos Tevez, Marseille manager

Didier Deschamps wass not alone in believing Ferguson’s squad lacks

some of the stardust that was present in previous years. However,

they remain a devastatingly effective unit and unless both Arsenal

and Chelsea can defeat them in their next two league games, it is

hard to imagine they will drop enough points in their final two

matches – against Blackburn and Blackpool – to finish anything

other than champions. “It was nervous on the field,” Hernandez

added. “We wanted to get the goal as soon as possible and knew we

needed to keep working. “It was hot and sunny and it was hard, but

the history of Manchester United is about days like this.”