Manchester United defender Phil Jones has his sights set on starting place under Jose Mourinho this season. The 24-year-old played the final 23 minutes in the 5-2 victory over Galatasaray on Saturday evening in Gothenburg, Sweden in which he would say he had taken a ‘step forward’. Jones has not started a competitive match for United since the 2-1 victory over Swansea City on the 2nd January 2016, making a total of 16 appearances in all competitions last season after suffering from injuries and a lack of form. Jones has featured in all three pre-season matches this summer, the 2-0 victory over Wigan Athletic, the 4-1 defeat to Borussia Dortmund and the win over Galatasaray at the weekend. Jose Mourinho will surely give him some game time in Wayne Rooney’s testimonial at Old Trafford on Wednesday as he bids to find the right mix of balance in his squad for the season opener against Leicester City in the FA Community Shield this coming Sunday and the Premier League opener against Bournemouth on Sunday 14th August, a match Chris Smalling is serving a suspension from after being sent off in the FA Cup final back in May.
Jose Mourinho will surely give him some game time in Wayne Rooney’s testimonial at Old Trafford on Wednesday as he bids to find the right mix of balance in his squad for the season opener against Leicester City in the FA Community Shield this coming Sunday and the Premier League opener against Bournemouth on Sunday 14th August, a match Chris Smalling is serving a suspension from after being sent off in the FA Cup final back in May. So far this summer, Mourinho has bolstered his defensive line with Eric Bailly, who has also played in all pre-season fixtures. Mourinho does not have many defenders to choose from to form a partnership for the early season matches, so Jones might be getting ready to make his comeback, putting last season behind him. Speaking after the 5-2 victory over Galatasaray, Jones said:
“It’s a step forward. The first game is always difficult, getting back into the rhythm of things.
“There have been quite a few changes with personnel. But it’s nice to be back, get minutes and keep improving.”
The match against Everton at Old Trafford on Wednesday, despite it being a testimonial, Mourinho will be looking to get his sides match fitness up, especially after the match against Manchester City in Beijing was cancelled a week ago. I am sure he will give players enough time so he can see what the best combination of players will be to start against Leicester City on Sunday, followed by the Premier League season opening away to Bournemouth, a fixture United lost 2-1 last season. Speaking about being ready for the Bournemouth match, Jones said:
“We look strong. We’re getting fitter game by game and we’ve still got to improve on some areas that we’ve been working on.
“I’m sure we’ll be there or thereabouts come the start of the season.”
Confidence seems to be well up there again, where it should be after the disastrous past three seasons at the club, in which United have won an FA Community Shield, under David Moyes, and the Emirates FA Cup under Louis van Gaal. Mourinho has brought in some quality players in Bailly, Henrikh Mkhitaryan and Zlatan Ibrahimovic, also said to be bringing Paul Pogba to the club, with central defenders on the shopping list too. The players that Mourinho has landed so far are decent additions which have brought up morale at the club with confidence said to be rising. One player who has brought that to the squad himself is Zlatan Ibrahimovic, bagging his first Manchester United goal inside the first four minutes of his debut against Galatasaray. Speaking about the Swede, Jones said:
“We’ve seen him do that many times before so let’s hope he can keep doing it. It’s been good. He’s obviously a confident boy, his talent is there for everyone to see.
“He’s a great guy off the pitch as well so hopefully he will keep scoring goals for us.”
This coming season should be a good one for United, well definitely better that the last three. Confidence, leadership, ability to score goals all seem to have been addressed so far, which could well change anything. United was missing a leader last season, despite Rooney being the captain. Ibrahimovic being a leader in the dressing room and on the pitch, to enhance Rooney’s captain’s role, plus his winning mentality will boost everything even more.