Jonny Evans said Manchester United‘s 1-0 win at Burnley was the “best night of my life” after the 35-year-old marked his first start for the club since 2015 with an outstanding performance for Erik ten Hag’s team.
The Northern Ireland international, who left Old Trafford eight years ago, was handed a one-year contract by the club this summer after leaving relegated Leicester City as a free agent at the end of last season.
And despite his signing being ridiculed by many due his age and injury record at Leicester last year, Evans silenced his critics with a top-class display at Turf Moor which was marked by his 40-yard pass that set up the winning goal for Bruno Fernandes.
“I loved every minute of it,” Evans said. “Before the game you get a feeling, I couldn’t wait, it was just pure excitement. Coming up here on the bus I was buzzing.
“That was my 200th game for Man Utd, I never thought I would ever reach that figure — the best night of my life.
“When you get to a certain age, you start to wind down your career. I got the call [from United] and didn’t have another option, so I just took it and tried to do my best in training and take my chance. You then just hope your body sees you through.
“It was never a thought that I would come in and be a starter — I was told that my role would be to provide competition and that is how I have approached it. With a few injuries, I then had the chance to start tonight.
“I think I slotted in well tonight and really added my experience to the side.”
United’s win ended their three-game losing streak and lifted the side back into the top of half of the Premier League table.
And manager Ten Hag said that his team simply had to win against Burnley in order to restore calm to Old Trafford.
“It was clear, of course we needed that win,” Ten Hag said. “We had a tough run of games against good opponents. It wasn’t necessary to lose those games. Today was must-win.
“A lot has been against us, like injuries and decisions. Like tonight. Murphy’s Law where everything goes against us. You have to fight and find a turning point. It shows the dressing room is together. They fight together.
“In stages of all the games we’ve played we’ve played good football but if you want to win you have to do it consistently. That was a brilliant spell of the game. The pass from Evans was brilliant, the movement and finish from Bruno too.
“He [Evans] gave the team calmness. His skills were brilliant, as with the goal.”
Ten Hag said that United must now return to the consistency they showed on the way to finishing third last season.
“Last year we had the most clean sheets in the Premier League,” he said. “We were disciplined and followed the rules. When we do that it’s difficult to play against Manchester United.”