Signed in 2011 from Blackburn Rovers for a hefty £18 million, Phil Jones found himself joining one of England’s biggest clubs as Manchester United beat off competition from Liverpool to sign the Preston-born defender. It was clear how talented the young man was after making nine league appearances as an 18 year-old in 2009/10 and from there on United’s interest just got greater.
Jones and centre-back partner Chris Smalling were tipped to replace Ferdinand and Vidic but for one reason or another that hasn’t worked out, namely injury problems as he has missed a total of 44 games due to injury alone, that’s on top of not being first choice as it were in the first place. Had it not been for injury, I think Jones would be one of the first names on the team sheet, instead I squirm at the uncertainty at what might come, as several unconvincing performances have left many hoping he is shown the door.
Playing only 15 games of the 28 in the league this season, it is classed as simply not good enough for a player who was described back in 2013 by Sir Alex Ferguson as:
”Arguably, the way he is looking, he could be [Manchester United’s] best ever player.”
A bold claim from such an authoritative figure, and for somebody who has managed players such as Ryan Giggs, Cristiano Ronaldo and Paul Scholes. This clearly suggest that Ferguson did rate Jones and in my opinion rightly so, despite completing only 29 of 41 tackles in the Premier League and making a healthy 54 interceptions according to Whoscored.com. He does, however seem content with life under van Gaal after describing his relationship with Marcos Rojo as ”beneficial” reported by the Manchester Evening News.
Jones is also able to boast 13 caps for his country, and both of the England managers (excluding caretaker Stuart Pearce) seemed to have been big fans of him, with former coach, Fabio Capello comparing him to Franco Baresi and Fernando Hierro another big claim, based on his ability to play in a defensive midfield role, as well as being able to occupy a full back spot. Jones has also been to two major international tournaments with England. It is clear he is talented and in my opinion is underrated by many when he does play well.
Now onto what I think about Jones’ future; Marcos Rojo has cemented down one of the two or at times three centre-back places and therefore it is down to Jones, Smalling and Jonny Evans to stake a claim to partner the Argentinian, especially as all three of the aforementioned are out of contract in the summer of 2016, it is become increasingly possible that they are playing for their futures, and it will not be easy with three other emerging defenders in Tom Thorpe, McNair and Blackett, especially as two of those three have signed new long-term contracts.
Finally, I conclude that we should keep Phil Jones, as he may still develop into a top centre-back, with the right tuition and a little bit of luck, I’m sure it’s possible and Jones is 14 off his centenary appearance for Manchester United, making him one of a select few to make 100 Premier League appearances for United, I personally hope, there is many more to come.
What do you think?
This article was researched and written by James Smith. You can follow him on Twitter.