Everton

Sir Alex’s Quietly Calculated Evolution

Sir Alex Ferguson has hinted that new signing Alex Buttner could be handed his Manchester United debut against Wigan this weekend, meaning Patrice Evra would be dropped to the bench for one of the first times in his six-year career with the Red Devils.

The Frenchman has been almost unrivalled at Old Trafford since he signed for the 19-time English champions in January 2006, but he has looked out of sorts for the past year and Ferguson moved to sign some competition for his vice-captain.

It now seems that his shaky performance in the 3-2 win over Southampton in the last round of Premier League matches may cost him his place in the side, and if Buttner impresses, he could be set for a spell warming the bench.

If Buttner can hold down a regular place in the side, Evra may have to look elsewhere for first team football, although his options may be limited.

A number of Premier League sides would be interested in the 31-year old, but whether they would be able to afford what would probably be high wage demands is another question.

Ferguson’s interest in Everton left-back Leigton Baines is no secret and a swap deal may entice David Moyes to let the England international leave whilst Arsene Wenger’s penchant for French players shows no sign of letting up, although Kieran Gibbs may be slightly miffed if he is replaced after just starting to become a regular starter.

If Evra was to leave England, Italy may be his best option as the top Spanish sides already have regular left-backs whereas the Italian market seems to be in slightly better shape.

Another elder statesman who may have to look for another club in January is Rio Ferdinand, although the news that Phil Jones requires an operation may mean that Ferguson will need the England centre-back to stay at the club.

The return of Nemanja Vidic and the improvement showed by Jonny Evans throughout last season has seen Ferdinand drop down the pecking order whilst youngsters Jones and Chris Smalling continue to impress whenever they are called upon.

The 33-year old would surely stay in England, with Newcastle a viable option given their shortage of central defenders. A return to first club West Ham could also happen, although the former Leeds captain will probably wait to see if the Hammers survive relegation before committing to a move.

After the disappointment of losing the Premier League title to rivals Manchester City last season, Ferguson may want to giving youth a chance as he looks to build yet another new side in the North West, and that could mean the end for some of his more experienced players.

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