Irwin vs Evra

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


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tomaldinho1

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Very close between them but I'd say Irwin, he just didn't really have a weakness. No frills, never injured, set piece option and great offensively & defensively.

Evra is one of my favourite ever United players though, he brought a lot to the team off the field as well as being world class on it.
 

norm87cro

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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.
Don't think that was neccessary the case. I always thought United were a little bit tactically naive in Europe playing the way we did back then (all out attack, fast paced wing stuff). Losing to Barca 4 0 isn't a shame and we managed to get a a 2 2 draw at Old Trafford against that same team. Monaco and Galatasaray certainly weren't technically better teams and they knocked us out of the CL in the 90s.
 

poleglass red

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Irwin all day long for me.I think first and foremost he was a better defender than Evra. I think going forward Evra might have been a little more flashy but Irwin to me was more consistent plus he chipped in with goals from set pieces. Loved both players but Evra at times could be exposed defensively. Irwin was just a no nonsense, job done kind of player.
 

Adnan

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Don't think that was neccessary the case. I always thought United were a little bit tactically naive in Europe playing the way we did back then (all out attack, fast paced wing stuff). Losing to Barca 4 0 isn't a shame and we managed to get a a 2 2 draw at Old Trafford against that same team. Monaco and Galatasaray certainly weren't technically better teams and they knocked us out of the CL in the 90s.
Monaco and Galatasary shouldn't be the comparison here both have never been the bench mark. The comparison here should be the best teams in their respective leagues and the league as a whole which was a better barometer. SerieA was far superior than the EPL on a technical and tactical POV and it shouldn't even be a discussion IMO.
 

Eckers99

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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?
Nani or Kanchelskis? Based on the fact that he wasn't either good or shit, with nothing in between, Kanchelskis wins that by a country mile.
 

POF

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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.
Irwin left United in 2002. United reached at least the quarter finals of the Champions league in his last 6 seasons.
 

RooneyLegend

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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.
The notion that Carlos couldn't defend is rubbish. He was rarely dominated by the opposition winger/attacker of that side, he was no Marcelo.
 

Irwin99

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Genuine question- can anyone remember a game where Irwin was in major trouble against an oppo player? Or even a player he used to struggle against? I have one in the game against Real Madrid (away) in 2000 where he struggled against McManaman but I think he was 34/35 at the time. Anyone remember Ginola or Overmars or someone of that ilk against him?

btw it's not an insult or meant to reduce a great player by saying they sometimes struggled against a certain opponent or had a bad game once. The Vidic/Torres thing is one of the biggest myths in football but there are instances of great players struggling or having a 'mare against a certain opponent. I mean Patrick Vieira got smashed by Phil Neville for instance :lol: Evra always seemed to struggle against Aaron Lennon, I don't think that was a myth.
 

12OunceEpilogue

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I saw more of Evra and was only a child during Denis's but having read and watched up it's the Irishman for me.
 

Jeppers7

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Genuine question- can anyone remember a game where Irwin was in major trouble against an oppo player? Or even a player he used to struggle against? I have one in the game against Real Madrid (away) in 2000 where he struggled against McManaman but I think he was 34/35 at the time. Anyone remember Ginola or Overmars or someone of that ilk against him?

btw it's not an insult or meant to reduce a great player by saying they sometimes struggled against a certain opponent or had a bad game once. The Vidic/Torres thing is one of the biggest myths in football but there are instances of great players struggling or having a 'mare against a certain opponent. I mean Patrick Vieira got smashed by Phil Neville for instance :lol: Evra always seemed to struggle against Aaron Lennon, I don't think that was a myth.
I remember Overmars being a problem for Irwin, I remember Irwin being turned often by players such as Beagrie and mike Summerbees lad. He was no Bissaka on a defensive basis.
 

Jeppers7

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Evra for me. Irwin was consistently good but Evras peak was world class and he was so much part of what the 06-08 team achieved.
 

FujiVice

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Evra for me. Irwin was consistently good but Evras peak was world class and he was so much part of what the 06-08 team achieved.
91-99 achieved more than that. From Rotterdam to the Camp Nou. Irwin was world class for the whole of it.
 

Irwin99

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I remember Overmars being a problem for Irwin, I remember Irwin being turned often by players such as Beagrie and mike Summerbees lad. He was no Bissaka on a defensive basis.
I remember Overmars being more on Neville's side of the pitch and I can't remember Overmars being an issue for Irwin but maybe i'm forgetting some games. I watched a few of the games against Arsenal around 99 and not much was getting past either set of full backs (Dixon was an excellent defender for them....although offered little going forward).
 

Adnan

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Genuine question- can anyone remember a game where Irwin was in major trouble against an oppo player? Or even a player he used to struggle against? I have one in the game against Real Madrid (away) in 2000 where he struggled against McManaman but I think he was 34/35 at the time. Anyone remember Ginola or Overmars or someone of that ilk against him?

btw it's not an insult or meant to reduce a great player by saying they sometimes struggled against a certain opponent or had a bad game once. The Vidic/Torres thing is one of the biggest myths in football but there are instances of great players struggling or having a 'mare against a certain opponent. I mean Patrick Vieira got smashed by Phil Neville for instance :lol: Evra always seemed to struggle against Aaron Lennon, I don't think that was a myth.
He struggled against McManaman on a number of occasions.

Ginola and Overmars were players who played on the opposite flank to Irwin.

Evra struggled against the pace of Lennon because Evra's job was to bomb forward and link up with the attack which left space for pacy players to exploit. There was added responsibility on fullbacks to attack when Evra was playing for United and he also played against a higher calibre of player in the EPL in comparison to Irwin. I've shared numerous links in various threads explaining how the role of the fullback has changed with added responsibility on a fullback to join up with the attack. Irwin played in a 4-4-2 mostly whilst Evra played in a formation that required him to stretch play and provide width.

Evra for me was the better fullback because his link up play with our attackers was brilliant from a technical POV and he was playing in a higher standard of competition in comparison to Irwin.
 
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BestRed

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He struggled against McManaman on a number of occasions.

Ginola and Overmars were players who played on the opposite flank to Irwin.

Evra struggled against the pace of Lennon because Evra's job was to bomb forward and link up with the attack which left space for pacy players to exploit. There was added responsibility on fullbacks to attack when Evra was playing for United and he also played against a higher calibre of player in the EPL in comparison to Irwin. I've shared numerous links in various threads explaining how the role of the fullback has changed with added responsibility on a player to join up with the attack. Irwin played in a 4-4-2 mostly whilst Evra played in a formation that required him to stretch play and provide width.

Evra for me was the better fullback because his link up play with our attackers was brilliant from a technical POV and he was playing in a higher standard of competition in comparison to Irwin.
Na Irwin all day long, similar quality if not better going forward and way ahead defensively makes him the better fullback imo. And no idea what made Evra's period a higher level than when Denis played.
 
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Irwin99

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He struggled against McManaman on a number of occasions.

Ginola and Overmars were players who played on the opposite flank to Irwin.

Evra struggled against the pace of Lennon because Evra's job was to bomb forward and link up with the attack which left space for pacy players to exploit. There was added responsibility on fullbacks to attack when Evra was playing for United and he also played against a higher calibre of player in the EPL in comparison to Irwin. I've shared numerous links in various threads explaining how the role of the fullback has changed with added responsibility on a fullback to join up with the attack. Irwin played in a 4-4-2 mostly whilst Evra played in a formation that required him to stretch play and provide width.

Evra for me was the better fullback because his link up play with our attackers was brilliant from a technical POV and he was playing in a higher standard of competition in comparison to Irwin.
I love Evra but I think Irwin's touch and technique were of a higher quality and apart from a game against Arsenal in 1996 I really struggle to remember a bad mistake from him that resulted in a goal. That muppet referee sent him at Anfield for a nothing offence in 1999 but aside from that I don't recall too many moments of controversy or bad errors. I can remember loads from Rafa, Gary Neville, and Evra though.
 

Adnan

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Na Irwin all say long, similar quality if not better going forward and way ahead defensively makes him the better fullback imo. And no idea what made Evra's period a higher level than when Denis played.
Evra played in a league which was arguably the best in Europe. Irwin played in a league that wasn't even in the discussion at the time.
 

Adnan

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I love Evra but I think Irwin's touch and technique were of a higher quality and apart from a game against Arsenal in 1996 I really struggle to remember a bad mistake from him that resulted in a goal. That muppet referee sent him at Anfield for a nothing offence in 1999 but aside from that I don't recall too many moments of controversy or bad errors. I can remember loads from Rafa, Gary Neville, and Evra though.
I have to respectfully disagree with you on the players touch and technique.

The problem people are failing to understand here is the role of the fullback in Irwin's time and when Evra arrived at United.

In Irwin's time the onus on the fullback wasn't to attack but to defend and our wingers at the time gave the fullbacks plenty of protection due to their high work rate and tracking back. Giggs and Beckham were exceptional in that regard on either flank which really helped Irwin and Gary Neville.

Evra was tasked with the added responsibility of joining up with the attack and providing width due to the traditional touch line winger becoming more inverted. Evra played behind Ronaldo and at times Nani who didn't really provide the protection, so mistakes were gonna be inevitable due to the higher risk.

Evra's role as a fullback was more important and had added responsibilities in comparison to Irwin who played at a time when fullbacks had to defend first and everything else was a bonus. Evra played at a time when attacking and defending was just as important and he played in a more competitive EPL. Evra also had the physical capabilities, especially his pace which really added to his technical skills in a era when traditional touch line hugging wingers were becoming obsolete and in-turn made the fullback a very important component in ones attacking arsenal and added even more responsibilities on a fullback.

Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn have both said that the role of the fullback requires much more now than when they played. They even describe how taken aback they were when Wenger arrived at Arsenal and wanted them to join up with the attack.
 

Irwin99

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I have to respectfully disagree with you on the players touch and technique.

The problem people are failing to understand here is the role of the fullback in Irwin's time and when Evra arrived at United.

In Irwin's time the onus on the fullback wasn't to attack but to defend and our wingers at the time gave the fullbacks plenty of protection due to their high work rate and tracking back. Giggs and Beckham were exceptional in that regard on either flank which really helped Irwin and Gary Neville.

Evra was tasked with the added responsibility of joining up with the attack and providing width due to the traditional touch line winger becoming more inverted. Evra played behind Ronaldo and at times Nani who didn't really provide the protection, so mistakes were gonna be inevitable due to the higher risk.


Lee Dixon and Nigel Winterburn have both said that the role of the fullback requires much more now than when they played. They even describe how taken aback they were when Wenger arrived at Arsenal and wanted them to join up with the attack.
No problem at all, as many have said earlier in this thread I would put Denis Irwin at RB and Evra at LB in my PL era United team (and I actually feel a bit bad for dropping Neville but I think those two were better). Evra was an outstanding player.

I completely understand the general difference between the 90's fullback and the modern fullback BUT crucially I would argue that SAF gave his fullbacks a lot more licence to get forward more than most teams of that era (for example Arsenal) and Irwin did break forward a fair bit (not nearly as much as Patrice but enough to support the attack). Off the top of my head Irwin won the penalty in the 1994 FA cup final with a surging run beyond Giggs and even at the age of 33/34 he broke forward and hit the post against Juve in the 99 semi final.

My argument would be that you could put Irwin in the modern era and you'd have a player that had a superb first touch, good crossing ability, two footed, takes free kicks/penalties and is an excellent defender. It'd be obvious that he could play the modern role to a very high level.
 

BestRed

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Evra played in a league which was arguably the best in Europe. Irwin played in a league that wasn't even in the discussion at the time.
Think you're way overplaying the quality difference of the league during both players respective spells playing here. But thats probably a discussion for a different thread. Either way l believe Irwin would have had the qualities to play in any of the top teams in Italy or Spain while here.
 

Adnan

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Think you're way overplaying the quality difference of the league during both players respective spells playing here. But thats probably a discussion for a different thread. Either way l believe Irwin would have had the qualities to play in any of the top teams in Italy or Spain while here.
You're entitled to your opinion. Irwin would've struggled to make the bench at top Serie A clubs IMO. Italian clubs not only had the best players in the world flocking to join them they also had the financial and tactical advantage over us.
 

Fingeredmouse

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I remember Overmars being a problem for Irwin, I remember Irwin being turned often by players such as Beagrie and mike Summerbees lad. He was no Bissaka on a defensive basis.
I can't recall Overmars & Irwin directly facing each other. Can't have happened often given they would've plated on opposite sides. However, I'd agree, he was susceptible to pace a little, especially allied to good dribbling ability. I think Evra was somewhat too - Lennon always gave him Hell.
Stoichkov totally ruined Irwin in the Nou Kamp in '94. However, he was totally brilliant so no shame in that.
 

Adnan

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I can't recall Overmars & Irwin directly facing each other. Can't have happened often given they would've plated on opposite sides. However, I'd agree, he was susceptible to pace a little, especially allied to good dribbling ability. I think Evra was somewhat too - Lennon always gave him Hell.
Stoichkov totally ruined Irwin in the Nou Kamp in '94. However, he was totally brilliant so no shame in that.
I agree completely..
 

Bobski

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Irwin RB, Evra LB would be my Fergie era team choice. I appreciate Gary Neville, but for me he was quite clearly a lesser player than either of those 2.
 

BestRed

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You're entitled to your opinion. Irwin would've struggled to make the bench at top Serie A clubs IMO. Italian clubs not only had the best players in the world flocking to join them they also had the financial and tactical advantage over us.
Yes as are you mate. Again though I think you may be underestimating the quality United posessed during this period. Among the ones we know off Keane, Giggs and Scholes were all chased by Italian teams back then while Ince left for Inter in 95. Don't think it that unlikely Irwin being one of our most consistent players throughout this period wouldn't be able to cut it over there. Anyway think we may be getting of topic a bit here. At the end of the day both Evra & Irwin were top players for us.
 
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Evra. Best left back in the prem era imo.
I love Evra. But

Irwin had more longevity at the top of the game.
Irwin won more trophies.
Irwin could play with his left and right feet.
Irwin was a better defenfensively than Evra.
Irwin was a more potent attacking threat than Evra (in goals and assist stats, alos link up play).
Irwin was a very good free kick and penalty taker.

This isn't to knock Evra, best left back around for a 5 years period. Great player.

But if I wanted to have eithers talent and career - Irwin everytime.
 

Sky1981

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I love Evra but it's Denis for sure. What an incredible player he was. He was better defensively than Evra but his real strength was his quality on the ball. His delivery was fantastic from open play and set pieces, he had great technique and was very composed in everything he did.

Top quality from set pieces, clinical from the penalty spot and a fantastic character in the squad. He'd have been even better if he played in his best position!

Evra had more energy, was a more dynamic dribbler and had more charisma and leadership qualities.

Both were excellent players for United. The only mystery is how anyone could name Gary Neville in their best United XI ahead of either of these 2.
Irwin was unlucky to be in a squad full of leader. Pallister, bruce, keane etc.

A prime irwin in the same team would be made captain ahead of evra.
 

RooneyLegend

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I love Evra. But

Irwin had more longevity at the top of the game.
Irwin won more trophies.
Irwin could play with his left and right feet.
Irwin was a better defenfensively than Evra.
Irwin was a more potent attacking threat than Evra (in goals and assist stats, alos link up play).
Irwin was a very good free kick and penalty taker.

This isn't to knock Evra, best left back around for a 5 years period. Great player.

But if I wanted to have eithers talent and career - Irwin everytime.
Evra was faster, stronger and more skillful. He's the sort of player that could dominate a flank. As someone said, Irwin was a steady Eddy. They both achieved alot so that carries little weight.
 
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Evra was faster, stronger and more skillful. He's the sort of player that could dominate a flank. As someone said, Irwin was a steady Eddy. They both achieved alot so that carries little weight.
I gave evidence based reasons Irwin was better.

You gave anecdotal evdience - just a subjective view that Evra was more skillful, strong and fast than Irwin. That's simply your opinion - all my list was factual not opinion.


Edit: Gary Neville on Irwin

 
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RooneyLegend

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I gave evidence based reasons Irwin was better.

You gave anecdotal evdience - just a subjective view that Evra was more skillful, strong and fast than Irwin. That's simply your opinion - all my list was factual not opinion.


Edit: Gary Neville on Irwin

There's nothing subjective about saying Evra was faster, stronger and more skillful. Its clear to anyone with decently functional eyes.

Your list has the sort of factors that don't matter all that much in a player vs player debate. Teams win trophies not individuals. Evra also played for a very long time at the highest level.

Evra was a force, Irwin was not. His ball carrying mattered a lot to how our team played.
 

Andycoleno9

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Only position where i just can't decide. Both were amazing and among best full backs in the world at their prime. Although Irwin was hugely underestimated outside PL.
 

Denis79

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Evra.
I know Irwin was Mr. Consistent, can strike good freekick, and solid defensively. But Evra was a much better attacking full back, a good tackler and great link up with Ronaldo at that time.
Was he?
 

Himannv

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Voted for Irwin as he was the more balanced fullback. I think Evra is better offensively. Watched a fair number of our old matches recently and he often played quite high up the pitch especially if we were chasing the game. I'm not saying that's a bad thing as it just made us harder to defend against. I think Vidic in particular did a fantastic job to cover for him and deal with counter attacks from the left. Two very good fullbacks but I think they were different players in the way they operated so it all comes down to what you prefer.
 

Charlie Foley

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There's nothing subjective about saying Evra was faster, stronger and more skillful. Its clear to anyone with decently functional eyes.

Your list has the sort of factors that don't matter all that much in a player vs player debate. Teams win trophies not individuals. Evra also played for a very long time at the highest level.

Evra was a force, Irwin was not. His ball carrying mattered a lot to how our team played.
Evra I feel was better running with the ball due to his pace and power. Skilful however I’m not sure. Irwin in my opinion was a better passer and certainly a better finisher.
 

RooneyLegend

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Evra I feel was better running with the ball due to his pace and power. Skilful however I’m not sure. Irwin in my opinion was a better passer and certainly a better finisher.
Evra was more skilful because had great moments of ingenuity, the sort Irwin wasn't capable of. Irwin was probably better finisher and crosser but Evra was a constant threat on his flank. He was also amazing at recovering lose balls and turning them into immediate attacks.