• France

Evra backed by players' union and Ferguson

ESPN staff
October 23, 2013
Evra asked to explain his comments

Manchester United defender Patrice Evra has received the backing of the French players' union and his former boss Sir Alex Ferguson in the wake of his explosive TV interview on Sunday.

Having largely been rounded on by the French media and former players after branding four high-profile critics "tramps", Evra was given some welcome support by the National Union for Professional Footballers (UNFP).

Evra, 32, said he was insulted in the past after journalist Pierre Menes suggested that he was willing to "sell his mother" to get back in the French team.

The UNFP hit out at both the media and the French Football Federation (FFF) for not offering the former French captain enough help in the face of such criticism.

"Why did the same press not rise up with the vehemence that we sometimes know to condemn the remarks of Pierre Menes, for example, mixing the family of the French international up with his desire to return to the team?" their statement read.

Meanwhile, Ferguson says he "never once" had a problem with Evra.

But Ferguson admitted that he would have advised the player not to take part in a training ground boycott at the last World Cup. That decision saw Evra banned for five matches by the FFF and is the origin for much of the flak he still receives today.

"I think it was unfortunate, the episode in South Africa in the World Cup finals, that he was captain then and had to take it all on himself to represent the players in terms of the training with the coach at the time," Ferguson said.

"If I'd have been able to get hold of him, I would have advised him not to do that at the time.

"But I never had a problem at all with Patrice. He was a terrific captain - a terrific professional."

Raymond Domenech, the French coach at that World Cup, told Ma Chaine Sport that in hindsight he had made a mistake by appointing Evra as captain because he speaks first and "thinks afterwards".

But while he questioned the timing of Evra's interview, Domenech said that his outburst could end up helping France reach the World Cup.

"There's a positive side that's often overlooked by you in the media," he said. "That's the impact that a player can have when he's in a team and at least half the players think the same way he does.

"They don't dare say it but they think that way because they're under the same pressure… (if) there's a player who's capable of saying it, that reinforces their position. Not the captain, but a leader on the inside and that can unite the guys.

"We, as coaches, use that often. When there's someone who says something we say 'look at what they said, look at what they're doing.'

"And we make use of that. It's an effect that could be positive but we don't know that yet. We'll only know at the end of the playoffs. "

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