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Danny Wilson Getting The Best Out Of Evans

Tuesday 13th March 2012
Ched Evans was signed by Kevin Blackwell for Sheffield United in July 2009. The reported price tag was £3 million, but that total fee was based on add ons. At the time he signed I was a little skeptical of what United had bought. Was he a young player with bags of potential to sell on at a profit? Or was he the ready-made striker to fire the Blades to promotion to the Premier League? Was he simply a signing to appease unhappy fans who had seen James Beattie sold in the previous January? It has turned out to be none of these as unfortunately Evans struggled for form and fitness in his first 2 seasons as a Blade. He scored 13 goals in 47 league appearances in those 2 seasons, hardly worth the reported transfer fee and wages he was reportedly getting.

As of writing Ched is on course for at least a 25 league goal campaign this season. He has already hit that total in all competitions, and will be looking at 30 once May comes around. So what has changed? Well United were relegated to League 1 in 2011 so he is playing at a lower level. He also playing in a team that is chasing automatic promotion rather than battling it out at the wrong end of the Championship. However the main reason for his success this season I believe is Danny Wilson.

Wilson has got United playing much better football this season, they are no longer a long ball football side like they were under Kevin Blackwell and Micky Adams. The passing style we have adopted with Kevin McDonald running the midfield has really changed the perception of fans, and pundits alike. What it has also done is reignite Ched Evans and created a scoring machine. He has now been given his best role, playing on the shoulder of the defender looking for through balls and passes over the top. I'm not going to be over critical of Adams, Blackwell and Gary Speed, but they had Evans either playing as a target man, or up front on his own.

This season he has usually been paired with Richard Cresswell and this has worked a treat, with Cresswell doing a lot of the hard graft letting Ched worry about getting the goals. What has also been noticeable is he no longer ends up out wide, certainly in his first season he seemed to be on the wing more than in the box. Fitness was also a problem in his first 2 seasons, with various injuries keeping him from getting a consistent run in the side. Now he appears much stronger, faster and sharper. He no longer gets knocked off the ball and he is generally the one knocking defenders over now. Evans also seems to have an extra yard of pace, burning past defenders with ease.

Of course all of this could be down to the fact that he is playing in the third tier and against weaker opposition. When United have played teams from higher divisions in the cup Ched hasn't got on the score sheet. He has also failed to score in some of the bigger games this season, such as the derby at Hillsborough in February. I still think his record stands up though. Yes he has cost United a lot of money, and may well leave for nothing come the summer. There is also a court case pending which could have a huge effect on the direction of Ched's career. His goals, however, are the major reason United are challenging for automatic promotion and if achieved I doubt many fans will be too fussed about how much he cost.
Matthew Wright

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