Tuesday, 3 February 2009

Reports of Evans' Demise No Longer Exaggerated

Rumours that Steve Evans had played his last game for Wrexham have been circulating widely over the last few weeks, but finally they have proven to be true.

If I had a pound for every time someone gave me the exclusive inside information that Evans was signing for Rhyl in the transfer window, I'd have been able to afford Kaka.

Now he finally has gone, apparently back to TNS rather than The Lilliwhites. The inaccurate oracles were putting two and two together in a clumsy manner, but they were onto a winner. Eventually, it had to happen.

Evans has sadly been accident-prone throughout his time at The Racecourse. While his physical attributes were seductive to four managers (well, three of them certainly), his lapses of concentration meant he couldn't fulfil the potential these advantages offered him. If he had, he never would have had to start his full time career in his late twenties, and certainly would never have ended up with us.

I recall an early game when, while others purred about his forthright aggression, I worried about a couple of instances when he'd lost concentration while marking and let his man get behind him rather too easily. He got away with it both times, but it was a sign of what was to come.

There were times when he was magnificent, the game at Birmingham when he and Danny Williams repelled City until extra time stands out. Also, he tended not to let himself down when playing for Wales, which perhaps suggested that playing isolated one-offs against better opposition focussed his mind.

However, he had accumulated too many accidents to convince those who watched him week in and week out, a problem which would curtail his international career when Wales' assistant manager got the chance to work with him daily. In his first season with Wrexham the problem was the number of red cards he incurred; last time it was the regularity with which he put the ball past his own keeper. Either way he was error prone, and having lost his place at the start of this season only to claim it back as Nat Brown struggled with his fitness, he soon found his goose was cooked with Saunders' arrival.

It didn't take long for Saunders to drop him, and despite an excellent cameo at Mansfield when Saunders brought him on to counter the aerial threat of Jason Lee, the writing was on the wall. Between then and his final game, at Workington, Evans' chances were limited and the facts were stark: we let in five goals when he was on the pitch in that period, and each of them could be attributed to him! His grotesque error against Southport led to a penalty and his final red card in a Wrexham shirt; he conceded the free kick from which Basingstoke Town got a late goal; and all three of Northwich's goals were down to him losing his man, who scored two and headed the ball into the goalmouth to set up the scramble which led to the other.

His last hurrah, at Workington, saw him suffer another highly shaky afternoon, his position as right-sided centre back alongside the equally insecure Silvio Spann meaning that every time the ball was played into that side of the box there was a real possibility of disaster.

Many felt his disaster against Southport, when the most one-sided game I've seen for a long time was trtansformed by his dreadful error, which wasn't the first despite the fact that the ball was barely in our half until he was sent off.

Likewise, many were surprised he got a chance against Northwich, and his poor marking allowed the visitors to snatch a point in an absolute farce of a game. Let's hope those dropped points don't come back to haunt us.

It's a shame in many ways that things have ended like this. Evans' commitment to the club shouldn't be questioned, and a lot of the internet gossip about his off-field behavious seemed actionable to me. However, too many errors were occurring for Dean Saunders to tolerate, a fact which in itself shows that he seems to be the right man for the job of turning our fortunes around.

At least Evans left us with a parting gift. Ironically, in getting us knocked out of the Setanta Shield Evans might have done us the greatest favour he ever managed in his two and a half years with us.

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