Put aside the moral issue for a moment. Would re-engaging Ched Evans be right for Sheffield United?
Could it be more trouble than it’s worth?
Having posed those questions, I have to be ho nest here. I’m leaning to “no” as the answer to the first and “yes” to the second.
It’s only one opinion, for what it’s worth, and not an attempt to speak for supporters who would seem confused, if not split, on the issue. This column is not a pulpit and therefore leaves the moral question to others as a highly personal, conviction-based judgment.
This is a football-based argument. Which is not to say that a definite decision on whether or not to re-house the jailed striker has necessarily been made, even though there are strong suspicions in some quarters that the Blades are ready to have Evans back pending a release that may be imminent.
When that happens you would expect – whether rightly or wrongly – that the queue for his potential services will be long. And some point out that, if the vexed question of employing him is not a barrier, United would be depriving themselves of a proven talent by standing aside. But I wonder if it would be “right” for Evans, either, to return to the game at Bramall Lane where a promotion bid set up by his goals died largely because of his conviction for rape?
Despite the promise of support from some fans (but far from all), the focus on the Wales striker would be more intense here than elsewhere.
And with that could come a huge pressure on the club. Right now you could say United are big enough in League One terms without drawing more scalp-like attention to themselves.
Besides, the wider attention the Blades currently get is mostly good. The club has reshaped itself as a harmonious and reasonably well financed operation. The manager,
Nigel Clough, enjoys the unequivocal wholehearted backing of directors and the vast majority of supporters.
Although the early weeks of the season have raised question marks over the team’s potency, the squad is fairly well stocked in quantity and quality. There would appear to be a solution within it and, if not, with the addition of two or three recruits identified by the manager as attention switches from failed pre-deadline bids to loans.
Arguably, money budgeted for a striker, seemingly from Championship level, would be better deployed that way than gambling on a former marksman rehabilitating himself in the toughest of circumstances. Evans may have kept himself fit but he can’t be match fit. Could he pick up the pace mid-season? Could he cope with the attention on and off the field?
Well, maybe he could, who knows? There are no reservations in terms of ability. But to what extent would there be a risk of rocking the Bramall Lane boat, a happy ship steaming very much in the right direction on a flattish sea?
It’s for that reason alone, on football grounds, that I would argue against it. But I stress it’s only one view among very many. Those fears could, of course, prove unfounded should the Evans return scenario unfold.
As I have said here before, I don’t envy those with the decision to make and I know they won’t take it lightly.