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Phil Jones on preparation for an important pre-season campaign

Manchester United defender Phil Jones has been on the periphery for the past few months, with few notable talking points around the defender. However, he seems to be looking forward to United’s pre-season plans and highlighting the importance of this time of the year that we, as fans, often don’t see.

Jones emphasises the importance of using pre-season as preparation for the campaign ahead, detailing the demanding work that is involved even though this time of the season seems to be the most relaxed.

“[Pre-Season is] hard work! [Laughs] A lot of travelling, and time and effort being put in by everyone. But it’s all about getting ready for the start of the season and preparing for the first game.”

Pre-season can be an exciting time for fans as many from around the world have the chance to see the Red Devils line up in their hometown, and everyone else can preview the types of tactics, players, and formations that could be common over the course of the campaign. Jones also acknowledges the commercial side of modern pre-season campaigns.

“We know exactly what the manager expects from us and he knows the players inside and out. He’ll have organised this pre-season period exactly how he wants it – when we’ll train, when we’ll rest and when we’ll have commercial work to do. I’m sure it will be a great tour and I’m looking forward to it.”

Perhaps applying to Lindelof and United’s other new additions this summer, Jones shared the experiences he had in his first pre-season, explaining that he was eager to impress the fans and tried very hard to fulfill their lofty expectations. Related to this point, he believes the side was lucky to be given seven pre-season fixtures, as it allows the Reds to get back into shape and be completely ready for the new season.

“I remember my first game against Chicago Fire and the heat being unbearable! I was trying so hard as well, with it being my first game, as I didn’t want people to think I was just a kid who had come in to sit on the bench and be a bit-part player. It was tough but a good learning curve.

“The more matches you play, the more match-fit you are and seven games will give everyone a chance to get minutes under their belts. You need everyone at a good level for the start of the season.”

Jones also looks forward to pre-season matches against some of the biggest clubs in the world, including Barcelona, Real Madrid, and noisy neighbours Manchester City. United will line up against all three sides in the United States this summer, and Jones wants the senior team and the youngsters to take positives from those fixtures.

“Of course, they’re big names and they have big-name players in their sides. We’ve often played against these kinds of teams in pre-season and it’s exciting for the fans in the States to come to the games. It’s also good for some of the young players who travel with us to experience matches like that. You can take a lot of positives from pre-season and look forward to the start of the season.”

Jones always seems to be a committed presence, willing to put his body on the line for Manchester United. While this has, perhaps, caused injuries that many believe in putting his United tenure in risk, he shows up when the side needs him and still has time to become a very good defender.

The interesting part of Jones’ comments is the fact that they all relate to his desire to get back into the squad. Going through the quotes individually, he will need to work hard, meet the manager’s expectations while staying fit and fresh, and work very hard to move back up the pecking order after excellent campaigns from Eric Bailly, Marcos Rojo, and Daley Blind. Perhaps some of the biggest fixtures could be his opportunity to find his way back into the side.

Pre-season could be the most crucial time of the year for United this time around because Mourinho’s men didn’t finish last campaign playing very well, nor did there seem to be a plan to build a proper squad behind the talented first XI that the Portuguese manager crafted during his first season at the club.

Much like Jones, United is a currently a work in progress, and pre-season will be a vital campaign to ensure that the Red Devils continue making progress towards being one of the best clubs in Europe again.

Written by Aaron Moniz

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