Why Phil Jones can still be a success at Manchester United

When the 25-year-old arrived at Old Trafford back in 2011, many thought Phil Jones was a future star at Old Trafford and a shoe in England captain in waiting.

He was highly regarded by Manchester United great Sir Alex Ferguson when he was brought in and is one of only a few remaining reds to have tasted Premier League success. However, his form over recent months and even years has been anything but consistent, and his future over the last couple of seasons has been thrown into doubt.

He arrived at a time when Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic were seen as the best defensive partnership not only in the Premiership but in Europe, so he knew he was coming in as back up along with Chris Smalling until they both left the club.

Luckily enough for the former Blackburn man, the Serbian, Vidic suffered from both injuries and suspensions in Jones’ first season at United, and he managed to sustain a good run in the side where he impressed.

In 2011, he gained the plaudits of then England manager Fabio Capello who compared him to Italian great Franco Baresi and former Real Madrid skipper Fernando Hierro. The Italian manager gave Jones his senior international debut in 2012 before Jones was picked for that summers European Championships by Capello’s successor Roy Hodgson.

In the seasons that followed, the defender continued to impress even whilst managers at Old Trafford were coming and going. He struggled to make an impression on Dutch manager Louis van Gaal, who minimised his appearances in favour of British compatriots Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans, and when he did play it was often out of position.

Since Jose Mourinho arrived at Old Trafford, Jones had begun to go through something renaissance, especially towards the end of last season, where the man from Preston was unbeaten when he played up until the end of January.

However, although the United defender goes through spells where you can see him being one of the Premierships great defenders, he still has a tendency to have a mistake or two in him, and it is something that he needs to cut out of his game, especially as he enters the most important years of his career.

His recent performances against Newcastle and Tottenham was branded a ‘disaster’ by former United player Phil Neville. Even though the reds boast the best defensive record in the league, Neville said that is in spite of Jones, and England compatriot Chris Smalling, and says they have the best defensive record ‘because they have the best goalkeeper in the world’.

It has been said in recent days, that Mourinho is looking to overhaul his defence and Jones would be one of those that would have to make way. Although he does have a tendency to make rash mistakes and isn’t the best ball-playing centre-back, he can still be a great success at Old Trafford.

He is an old-school British defender, who is a hard-hitting, no-nonsense kind of player. If he can cut out his mistakes and do the things that made people say he has the potential to be a future captain at both club and country level, he can become one of the best centre-backs in the country. Everyone knows he has it in him it is just a case of being consistent.

He was even compared to England legend John Terry, by Mourinho before Christmas, and he can progress to that World-Class level, it’s just a case of believing in him and giving him a fair run in the side before replacing him completely.

Written by Dan Pearce

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