Irwin vs Evra

Who was our best left back in the Premier League era?


  • Total voters
    308
  • Poll closed .

POF

Full Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Messages
3,181
My memories of Irwin are fairly vague as I was a kid at a the time and was probably more interested in the forwards. How was he aerially? I remember Evra became really dangerous in the air in his last few years with us
Evra was much better in the air. It wasn't one of Irwin's strengths at all. But he rarely if ever got beaten in the air defensively at the back post.

He rarely won the header but was brilliant at taking up the ideal position to stop the attacker getting to the ball and would allow the ball to beat them both.

Nowadays the defensive side of playing full back is all about athleticism and having the speed to recover position. In Irwin's days it was all about positioning and being in the right place at the right time. He was brilliant at it.
 

Inter Yer Nan

Full Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2016
Messages
5,783
Location
Los Angeles, CA (from UK)
Irwin. I think Evra was better going forward (but not by a massive amount), but Irwin was much more solid defensively. Irwin was better going forward than Evra was at defending this making him more well rounded which added to his consistency. You can’t discount his brilliant free kicks too.

As someone already said in this thread, Irwin was very likely our best right back too. Great player.
 

Morpheus 7

Full Member
Joined
May 14, 2014
Messages
2,830
Location
Ireland
I was born in 94 so too young to remember Irwin, but more or less grew up with Evra, for a few one of the best LBs in the world

Poll says 60/30 for Irwin, was he really that much better then Evra? Honest question
Honestly he was, he never made a silly mistake at the back. Reliable and consistent, took penalties and free kicks too. There was nothing fancy about Irwin but he was just so solid, especially in the big games. Possibly the most balanced player as in what he could do. He could hit a ball, challenge well in his one on ones, get up and down the pitch, involved in build up. He could do everything well but not having one stand out feature in particular like modern players as Trent or AWB. It's odd to say, it's the mix, that dependability that made him great. Rarely injured for United or Ireland, just a top pro that didn't dip in performance.
 

RedTiger

Full Member
Joined
Oct 6, 2013
Messages
16,440
Location
Beside the sea-side, Beside the sea.
I was born in 94 so too young to remember Irwin, but more or less grew up with Evra, for a few one of the best LBs in the world

Poll says 60/30 for Irwin, was he really that much better then Evra? Honest question
There's honestly not that wide a gap between them, It's just that the poll requires a definitive answer between 2 options.

The reasons that I voted for Irwin is because his final ball was better and his defensive game was consistently 7/10 and above. The final reason is because Irwin could play both flanks equally well.
 

Dante

Bang Average but can post Blindfolded for 15 secs
Joined
Oct 22, 2010
Messages
18,530
Location
My wit's end

Irwin was a better player, but Evra told Lampard to suck his pussy. So on balance, I'd rate them about the same.
 

Web of Bissaka

Full Member
Joined
Feb 20, 2017
Messages
5,657
Location
Losing to Comeback Winning!
Evra is aerially better when attacking and defending, set-piece threats yeap he scored headers, better pace and more agile. Unique trait -- his ability to improve, adapt and achieve quick growth in football ability is also freakishly impressive from a slower and weak in strength when defending on the ground and air to a quick adaptable monster defense in both plus adding aerial goals to his arsenal later on.

They are on par in possession play, supporting teammates, dribbling, one-twos combination of passes, short passes, ball-carry, running into box, off-the-ball movements, marking and one-on-one defending (tricky wingers eg. Lennon is Evra's kryptonite though).

Irwin is overall better and have plenty more to offer -- greater consistency, can take all set-pieces, scored with FKs and Penalties, better shooting, better at crossing and final delivery, better long ball passer, good "positional" defending (doesn't get caught in position), effective set-piece defending (similar to Blind in that sense), good weak left foot, scored with both feet, and ability to play in multiple positions LM, RM, LB, RB.

---

That said, :D there is this "fun-ness" and "craziness" when it comes to watching Evra play, it often makes you smile, while with Irwin you just can't help but feel "in awe" admiration and it feels like seeing "machine" watching him play due to his impressive level of repetitive consistency and reliability in how he play -- ruthlessly effective and you know what to expect, similar to watching Ronaldo's "terminator" football nowadays compare to younger Ronaldo that played a more "unpredictable" and "crazy fun" football.
 

OL29

Full Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2010
Messages
2,272
Location
Manchester
These threads are always pointless because all the flaws of the modern player are amplified but a combination of nostalgia and hazy memories mean the flaws of the older player are ignored.

Plus, player highlights on YouTube mean we can analyse a player’s every touch these days where as back in the day, if you didn’t attend a game or it wasn’t televised, a poor performance would completely slip under the radar.

It’s fair enough to rate Irwin higher but the people saying it’s not even close are way off imo.
 

The Urban Goose

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Apr 19, 2019
Messages
243
Another one of these, Geez!
They were both great players that have played for Utd at different times so that is the indisputable truth.
What is next
Stam or Rio?
Nani or Kanchelskis?
Macheda or Rossi?
 

Renegade

Full Member
Joined
Nov 11, 2009
Messages
3,885
These threads are always pointless because all the flaws of the modern player are amplified but a combination of nostalgia and hazy memories mean the flaws of the older player are ignored.

Plus, player highlights on YouTube mean we can analyse a player’s every touch these days where as back in the day, if you didn’t attend a game or it wasn’t televised, a poor performance would completely slip under the radar.

It’s fair enough to rate Irwin higher but the people saying it’s not even close are way off imo.
Agreed. It’s always the issue with these comparison threads.Reading this you’d think Irwin was never skinned by a RW or a had a poor game.
 

Giggsyking

Full Member
Joined
Aug 24, 2013
Messages
2,832
:DThis is too easy.

But memories and younger generation of fans (also natural left-footedness?) may swing the favor more towards Evra.
I watch united since the eighties and I like Evra more, he had more than just football in him, he had fire and passion, a leader too and he was really really good as a LB.
 

devilish

Juventus fan who used to support United
Joined
Sep 5, 2002
Messages
52,510
Irwin. I think Evra was better going forward (but not by a massive amount), but Irwin was much more solid defensively. Irwin was better going forward than Evra was at defending this making him more well rounded which added to his consistency. You can’t discount his brilliant free kicks too.

As someone already said in this thread, Irwin was very likely our best right back too. Great player.
I have mixed feelings on this. Don't take me wrong at face value you're right. Evra would bomb the opposition defence much more often then Irwin did. However one must understand the football ideology they played in. Back in the day full backs were more of a converted CB rather then a wing back. Take Parker as an example. He wouldn't go forward with the ball even his own life depended on it. Don't take me wrong, many top full backs were like that. Beppe Bergomi and Ciro Ferrara weren't exactly known for their attacking prowess.

Tactics were different back in the day. Defenders had to be able to defend back then. Sure the likes of Irwin, Maldini, Tassotti and Facchetti could go forward and hurt opposition. However that particular skill was seen as a bonus back then, something to use with great caution. All started to change when the converted wingers coming from South America started popping in (ex Roberto Carlos etc) . At that point, managers started noticing that if you have top CBs then you can get away with a technically gifted fullback (or in some circumstances two ) who isn't exactly a top defender. Thus wingers started going more narrow, full backs started going forward more often thus flooding and dominating the midfield.

To conclude Irwin played most of his career alongside Pally and Bruce while Evra played most of his career with us alongside Rio and Vidic. Did you spot the difference here? Bruce.....Rio....exactly. FBs tend to find it easier to go gung-ho when they know that the most complete CB of his era is covering their arse.
 

OL29

Full Member
Joined
Sep 17, 2010
Messages
2,272
Location
Manchester
I have mixed feelings on this. Don't take me wrong at face value you're right. Evra would bomb the opposition defence much more often then Irwin did. However one must understand the football ideology they played in. Back in the day full backs were more of a converted CB rather then a wing back. Take Parker as an example. He wouldn't go forward with the ball even his own life depended on it. Don't take me wrong, many top full backs were like that. Beppe Bergomi and Ciro Ferrara weren't exactly known for their attacking prowess.

Tactics were different back in the day. Defenders had to be able to defend back then. Sure the likes of Irwin, Maldini, Tassotti and Facchetti could go forward and hurt opposition. However that particular skill was seen as a bonus back then, something to use with great caution. All started to change when the converted wingers coming from South America started popping in (ex Roberto Carlos etc) . At that point, managers started noticing that if you have top CBs then you can get away with a technically gifted fullback (or in some circumstances two ) who isn't exactly a top defender. Thus wingers started going more narrow, full backs started going forward more often thus flooding and dominating the midfield.

To conclude Irwin played most of his career alongside Pally and Bruce while Evra played most of his career with us alongside Rio and Vidic. Did you spot the difference here? Bruce.....Rio....exactly. FBs tend to find it easier to go gung-ho when they know that the most complete CB of his era is covering their arse.
You’re going on as if Evra was a supplementary attacker, he was actually pretty good defensively at his peak, he had aerial strength, speed, good positioning and good tackling.
 

sullydnl

Ross Kemp's caf ID
Joined
Sep 13, 2012
Messages
21,892
My initial instinct was to think Irwin was better defensively while Evra was better offensively. Thinking about it more though, I'm not so sure on the latter part. Evra was certainly more dynamic offensively but Irwin had much more consistent crossing & final delivery. There's no real reason for us to discount Irwin's set piece threat either, as if only threat from open play counts when judging their impact on our attack.

For example in terms of goals scored, Evra's top five season tallies for us were 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0. As opposed to Irwin's 6, 5, 4, 4 and 4. At which point you have to ask whether Irwin offered more to the team both defensively and offensively than Evra as a more consistent goal threat.
 

Bwuk

Full Member
Joined
Feb 29, 2012
Messages
12,663
Evra comfortably for me, although in a dream 11 I’d have him and Irwin at RB.
 

harms

Shining Star of Paektu Mountain
Staff
Joined
Apr 8, 2014
Messages
20,347
Location
Moscow
For example in terms of goals scored, Evra's top five season tallies for us were 4, 3, 2, 1 and 0. As opposed to Irwin's 6, 5, 4, 4 and 4. At which point you have to ask whether Irwin offered more to the team both defensively and offensively than Evra as a more consistent goal threat.
How much of those were penalties that our strikers had scored in Evra's spell there though? Evra certainly offered more offensively, although it not always directly transformed into goals — him driving forward and providing a link up option for someone like Ronaldo further up was a crucial of our attacking set up in late 00's/early 10's. Irwin was a better crosser and he had a better shot, but it doesn't mean that he had added more by default. We can only speculate on how good he would've looked offensively if he was playing today (most likely he would've been fantastic).
 
Joined
Jun 26, 2014
Messages
7,445
Location
Behind the right goal post as "Whiteside shoots!"
How much of those were penalties that our strikers had scored in Evra's spell there though? Evra certainly offered more offensively, although it not always directly transformed into goals — him driving forward and providing a link up option for someone like Ronaldo further up was a crucial of our attacking set up in late 00's/early 10's. Irwin was a better crosser and he had a better shot, but it doesn't mean that he had added more by default. We can only speculate on how good he would've looked offensively if he was playing today (most likely he would've been fantastic).
Thought Bruce took most penalties? Then Cantona?

(Edit. Had a look. Seems 8 in PL.)
 
Last edited:

sullydnl

Ross Kemp's caf ID
Joined
Sep 13, 2012
Messages
21,892
How much of those were penalties that our strikers had scored in Evra's spell there though? Evra certainly offered more offensively, although it not always directly transformed into goals — him driving forward and providing a link up option for someone like Ronaldo further up was a crucial of our attacking set up in late 00's/early 10's. Irwin was a better crosser and he had a better shot, but it doesn't mean that he had added more by default. We can only speculate on how good he would've looked offensively if he was playing today (most likely he would've been fantastic).
They may well have been. But Irwin took those set pieces because he was better at them than the alternatives, so it still counts as a plus when assessing the attacking threat he as an individual provided to the team. If Evra had been so much better at set pieces that he was taking them ahead of those strikers you mention then that would have been a plus for him as a player too and would have been reflected in his goal tallies.

But yeah, this is all speculation really as the fullback role has changed too much in that time for direct comparisons.
 

harms

Shining Star of Paektu Mountain
Staff
Joined
Apr 8, 2014
Messages
20,347
Location
Moscow
They may well have been. But Irwin took those set pieces because he was better at them than the alternatives, so it still counts as a plus when assessing the attacking threat he as an individual provided to the team. If Evra had been so much better at set pieces that he was taking them ahead of those strikers you mention then that would have been a plus for him as a player too and would have been reflected in his goal tallies.

But yeah, this is all speculation really as the fullback role has changed too much in that time for direct comparisons.
It is definitely a plus (especially after seeing our penalty crisis at the beginning of this season), and you can't take them out entirely, but you can't just add them straight up to prove that he was a better attacker. It should count though — and even more so than penalties I rate his free kicks and corners.
 

harms

Shining Star of Paektu Mountain
Staff
Joined
Apr 8, 2014
Messages
20,347
Location
Moscow
But I guess it was also as he was deemed better than a lot of teammates in terms of ability to score them too? Maybe Evra wasn't?
Without a doubt. But I don't count penalty goals equal to goals from an open play (or even different set pieces) when I'm comparing different players attacking influence.
 

El Jefe

Full Member
Joined
Dec 28, 2012
Messages
1,622
Irwin because he had more strings to his bow and had a longer career at the top.
Thinking Irwin was better for us is fine but what's the bit in bold based on? Evra started a CL final in 2004 and another in 2015. His international career was for 12 years compared to Irwin's 9.

Evra used to boss the whole left hand side for us. I wonder how much better he would have looked if Ronaldo was brought through as a LW. The times he did we were just unstoppable. For the most part her played with Giggs, Nani and Park who are still top player but Irwin played pretty much his whole career with prime Giggs.

Like someone said, Evra was like Marcelo without the final ball but much better defensively. Would he have looked as good playing without Ronaldo?
 

Andersonson

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Jan 12, 2013
Messages
978
For those who remember and saw Irwin regurarly this is no contest.

Evra was great, but Irwin was just so reliable. Fantastic player
 

Tel074

Full Member
Joined
May 8, 2019
Messages
1,040
As much as I love Evra and his love for United this isn't even close .
Irwin was a brilliant defence and brilliant attacking he was a great penalty taker and very good at free kicks .
Evra was a outstanding attacking full back but he was caught out of position quite a bit which cost us at times
 

Inter Yer Nan

Full Member
Joined
Aug 26, 2016
Messages
5,783
Location
Los Angeles, CA (from UK)
I have mixed feelings on this. Don't take me wrong at face value you're right. Evra would bomb the opposition defence much more often then Irwin did. However one must understand the football ideology they played in. Back in the day full backs were more of a converted CB rather then a wing back. Take Parker as an example. He wouldn't go forward with the ball even his own life depended on it. Don't take me wrong, many top full backs were like that. Beppe Bergomi and Ciro Ferrara weren't exactly known for their attacking prowess.

Tactics were different back in the day. Defenders had to be able to defend back then. Sure the likes of Irwin, Maldini, Tassotti and Facchetti could go forward and hurt opposition. However that particular skill was seen as a bonus back then, something to use with great caution. All started to change when the converted wingers coming from South America started popping in (ex Roberto Carlos etc) . At that point, managers started noticing that if you have top CBs then you can get away with a technically gifted fullback (or in some circumstances two ) who isn't exactly a top defender. Thus wingers started going more narrow, full backs started going forward more often thus flooding and dominating the midfield.

To conclude Irwin played most of his career alongside Pally and Bruce while Evra played most of his career with us alongside Rio and Vidic. Did you spot the difference here? Bruce.....Rio....exactly. FBs tend to find it easier to go gung-ho when they know that the most complete CB of his era is covering their arse.
Definitely good points. Not much to disagree with there.
 

Falcow

New Member
Newbie
Joined
Mar 20, 2019
Messages
374
Location
Dublin
Not really a fair comparison given left back was not Irwins natural position, he only played there cos he could do it better than anyone else. Could you say the same for Evra at right back?

That among other factors is what makes Irwin better in my view.
 

devilish

Juventus fan who used to support United
Joined
Sep 5, 2002
Messages
52,510
You’re going on as if Evra was a supplementary attacker, he was actually pretty good defensively at his peak, he had aerial strength, speed, good positioning and good tackling.
Look if I thought that he was a liability when defending I'd say so. In fact I used that term with Roberto Carlos who was probably the best attacking fullback of his era. I used the term meah and I stick to it. Unlike Carlos he could defend. However Evra had those instances were he would bomb forward with total disregard of what happens at his back. That wasn't really a problem when Vidic and Rio were in their prime but it started becoming a problem when they started to grow older. Sir Alex being Sir Alex compensated to that by playing Gaz and Wes on the other end which meant we had 3 defenders covering up.

That was never necessary with Irwin. The guy was brilliant in both attacking and defending but on top of that he had the wisdom and the football brain to know when to do what. That was necessary when playing alongside the likes of Brucey and an incredible yet still inexperienced Giggs in front of him. That wisdom is the defying factor as why I think that Irwin was clearly a better FB to Evra.

I've met many United players in the past from Scholes to Beckham, right to Pogba, Charlton, Ole and the Nevilles. I also had the pleasure of attending a live interview with the guy and I assure you, he was the most intelligent football person I've met in football bar Sir Alex whom of course was on a planet of his own. The guy understand football. We're not talking here about experience, passion or the the copy and paste arguments you get from every player who played under Sir Alex. You get that from the class of 92 in bucket loads. We're talking in depth defensive knowledge ie understanding the strengths and weaknesses of one self, your mates, your opponents and the game itself (how it changed across time) and adapt to it accordingly.

One thing is for sure. You don't get the title of Mr consistency out of Lulz.
 

berbasloth4

Full Member
Joined
Sep 3, 2012
Messages
4,050
Location
ireland
Irwin all day long, i even remember when he returned to play us with wolves and he had mark ronaldo and giggs and didnt put a single foot wrong. Watched nearly his whole united career and cant remember him having a bad game making many mistakes. I think only red was the harsh red vs liverpool.

Mr dependable for a reason
 

Adnan

Full Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
18,046
Location
United Kingdom, England
Evra was much better in the air. It wasn't one of Irwin's strengths at all. But he rarely if ever got beaten in the air defensively at the back post.

He rarely won the header but was brilliant at taking up the ideal position to stop the attacker getting to the ball and would allow the ball to beat them both.

Nowadays the defensive side of playing full back is all about athleticism and having the speed to recover position. In Irwin's days it was all about positioning and being in the right place at the right time. He was brilliant at it.
Just to add to your post. The EPL wasn't close to being the best in Europe in Irwin's time either which should be noted.
 

wolvored

Full Member
Joined
Jul 6, 2016
Messages
5,142
Another one of these, Geez!
They were both great players that have played for Utd at different times so that is the indisputable truth.
What is next
Stam or Rio?
Nani or Kanchelskis?
I agree. Its just that there is nothing to discuss. I went for Irwin btw :)
 

padzilla

Hipster
Joined
Oct 31, 2005
Messages
1,545
I would argue Irwin is the best full-back the Premier League has ever had.
 

POF

Full Member
Joined
Sep 23, 2014
Messages
3,181
Just to add to your post. The EPL wasn't close to being the best in Europe in Irwin's time either which should be noted.
True but United were. If anything, the gulf in class between the EPL and Champions League was a hindrance to United's success in Europe. Irwin was a top class defender and could have played for any of the top clubs around Europe.
 

Solius

Bearded Scholes admirer
Staff
Joined
Dec 31, 2007
Messages
62,874
Location
Bristol
Love Evra but Irwin was just so consistently good. I can't remember him ever having a bad game whereas Evra did have the odd mistake in him.

That's all that really separates them for me.
 

Rood

nostradamus like gloater
Scout
Joined
Jun 21, 2008
Messages
17,757
Location
@United_Hour
Irwin has good cross and good freekick, but he never really impress me much with his attacking/overlapping run, Evra at times looks like a top class winger. Defensively I'll definitely choose Irwin though. But in modern game, I prefer Evra.
its not that easy to compare directly since they played in teams with very different styles - the modern game gives a lot more freedom to attack for fullbacks than was the norm in the 90s

For comparison stats in PL:

Irwin> 328 appearances / 18 goals / 25 assists
Evra> 278 appearances / 7 goals / 21 assists
 

fps

Full Member
Joined
Dec 22, 2018
Messages
3,207
I was born in 94 so too young to remember Irwin, but more or less grew up with Evra, for a few one of the best LBs in the world

Poll says 60/30 for Irwin, was he really that much better then Evra? Honest question
Not at all. They have very different strengths. Evra's energy and engine was more suited for his time, as was his pace and more attacking style. Irwin was utterly dependable and tough, intelligent positionally and in his tackling, with a belting shot on him. Irwin is helped by a lack of footage in a way - so many players from the past have their legends grow due to this. But he was genuinely one of the most consistently good players I've ever seen. Evra is underrated, the full-back's role changed, he would fit in brilliantly now, even moreso. Did he really leave 6 years ago...!?
 

Adnan

Full Member
Joined
Oct 5, 2013
Messages
18,046
Location
United Kingdom, England
True but United were. If anything, the gulf in class between the EPL and Champions League was a hindrance to United's success in Europe. Irwin was a top class defender and could have played for any of the top clubs around Europe.
United weren't anywhere near the best teams in Europe as far as technical ability goes. Barcelona schooled us in 94 with Romario and Stoichkov and co running amok.