Phil Jones has been a Manchester United player for a decade now. He signed for the Old Trafford club on the 13 June 2011 in a £16 million deal with Blackburn Rovers. Sir Alex Ferguson, the United manager at the time, was interested in signing Raphaël Varane from Racing Club de Lens but the Frenchman signed for Real Madrid instead, signing a six-year deal with a fee in the region of €10 million. Varane signed for the Madrid club two weeks after Jones signed for United, but Ferguson would have found out some time before that the Frenchman was not interested in signing for United at the time. The strange thing is this summer that United are still interested in Varane, if he does leave the Spanish club, which at this time seems likely, according to rumours. However, I don’t think he will sign for United and the club should focus on what is needed this summer.
Jones have played a total of 280 times for United, scoring six goals and 11 assists in his time at the club, however, 16 of those appearances came playing for the U23 and reserve sides over the past decade, which tended to be the player recovering from many of the injuries that he has sustained whilst playing for the club. The player, now 29, has missed 204 matches for the club, suffering from 23 different injuries and illnesses in that time. In all, he has been unavailable for 36% of matches played due to illness and injury, which is not a good sign for a player who has benefited from many chances at the club and still has a contract that expires in two years, which also has an option for a third to be added. It makes it look like the ownership of the club would rather keep what they have rather than ditching and signing better.
Does Phil Jones still have something to offer for Manchester United?
Jones has been a good player for United, despite the criticism that he has received. It is one of just a few players who have been regularly playing in the first team since Ferguson’s time as manager. The 29-year-old is experienced and was a full England international before injuries started to thwart his career, which has been a problem almost since he signed for the club. During his time at United, Jones has won one Premier League title, one Emirates FA Cup, two FA Community Shields and one UEFA Europa League. He is one of two players at the club to have survived since United’s last league title in Ferguson’s final season as manager of the club. United need experience in the team and Jones has that, but he’s experience in injuries too, which is not as good. I think he could offer something moving forward, but can understand why many would like to see him sold.
United are heading into an important season with Ole Gunnar Solskjaer still seeking to win his first trophy for the club. During the 2019/20 season, there was signs of massive improvement in the squad, especially after Bruno Fernandes was signed in January 2020. The club had a problem winning semi-final matches, which was ended in the 2020/21 season with the club reaching the final of the UEFA Europa League but were beaten 11-10 on penalties after a 1-1 draw after extra time, which saw Solskjaer on the receiving end of hatred from the supporters that are the be all and end of of United – mainly YouTubers and Twitter fans who seem to do nothing but moan and change their stories time and time again – seemingly doing it so they are only ever right and not really looking or sounding like supporters of the club.
Is Phil Jones’ time at Manchester United coming to an end?
Jones last played for United in the 6-0 victory over Tranmere Rovers in the Emirates FA Cup on the 26 January 2020, having made just eight appearances, scoring one goal in the 2019/20 season. The fact that he spent the rest of the season and the full 2020/21 season out of action would suggest that it would be tough for him to get back into the United squad, especially if Solskjaer signed a new central defender this summer. Harry Maguire and Victor Lindelof are currently the first-choice with Axel Tuanzebe and Eric Bailly both considered back up to the pair. Will Fish has also been utilised in recent times, making his debut in the final match of the Premier League last season. Teden Mengi is also coming through the ranks too, so at a point in the not too distant future, providing the longer players keep developing, Jones might be out of contention permanently.
Gone are the days of Chris Smalling and Jones being talked about as being comparative successors for the likes of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand. Smalling left the club permanently during the summer of 2019 as United signed Maguire as a world record fee for a defender from Leicester City that summer. Lindelof seems to be better than Jones and Bailly too, if he can stay fit, which has also been a problem with the Ivorian absent due to injury for 33.4% of his career, which is five years shorter than Jones’. Bailly has only recently made his 106th appearance for the club, missing 99 matches due to injury, which shows that United’s defence is still going to be a liability based on injury. Maguire ended the season on the sidelines, but in two years at the club, he’s missed just 5.7% of matches due to injury – Lindelof has missed just 4.3% of matches due to injury.
Phil Jones has had a good career at United and certainly seems to have found some fans in the Glazers, as he has been rewarded with new contracts, even when there was a time that his contract was about to run out and boom, a new contract was offered and signed. In the time that has passed since the summer of 2016, Jones has made 83 appearances, scoring one goal and no assists – that is in five seasons when a total of 295 matches were played by the club, with Jose Mourinho and Solskjaer being the managers of the club at the time. It would seem that Jones has not done enough to warrant a place in the squad any more and the interest that has been out there for him could be a good time to offload the player and try something new. With youth coming through the ranks, they should be afforded chances more than Jones.
This summer there is reported interest from both Newcastle United and West Ham United for Jones, which would be a good transfer for him. Newcastle are seeking to better themselves and the Hammers have done that and will need experience in their squad for the UEFA Europa League next season. Jesse Lingard re-found his form at West Ham during the 2020/21 season, scoring nine goals and five assists in the Premier League in 16 appearances for the club, which would have been good for the player. Jones could look at that and find a way for him to rebuild his flailing career with chances seemingly out of reach for him, looking at the current defence, the rumours of a new signing this summer and the class of the youth players coming through the ranks. It could well be that Jones leaves United this summer, which would be best for both him and the club.
Written by John Walker