April 22nd 2013, Manchester United had just rubbed salt in the wounds of scousers everywhere by grabbing their 20th title win in style, the gap between 1st and 2nd was as big as the gap between Old Trafford and the Etihad stadium. We won with a 3-0 rout over an always-boring Aston Villa side
Sir Alex Ferguson sat an interview the next day, to talk about the squad in general, he seemed so pleased with his title winning squad, he was so excited with ending his last season with a bang that he compared that same side to the squad of 98/99 season which was of course, our treble winning side.
When Sir Alex Ferguson speaks, no matter who you are, you just listen, football fans have so much respect for the Scotsman which is well and truly deserved, he spoke about how he believes the younger players would influence the starting eleven in years to come, and one man in particular would not only captain the side, but he has the potential to be the best player ever to play for Manchester United, and if that’s not good enough to boast about, I don’t know what is! Of course that player was Phil Jones.
In the summer of 2011 a lot of big talent speared through the ranks, Manchester United were like fisherman out at sea, looking for the best talent and reeling it in. Raphael Varane and Phil Jones were both supposedly shortlisted, but come on! When it comes to Sir Alex we only know who is going to sign, his favouritism over British players meant Phil Jones was selected and signed for a fee of £16.5 million.
When Sir Alex Ferguson left, Phil Jones was somewhat ‘thrown to the sharks’. The media and critics want results after they hear an opinion otherwise they’ll pounce like a cat on a mouse. Phil Jones has endured much less then when he was managed by Ferguson and that was the turning point where critics come out and haunt and individual.
The criticism Phil Jones has received is appalling due to the standards he is actually meeting, he plays with courage and heart unlike some, he always has room for improvement and has admitted the critics only spur him on.
But has he been that replacement for Vidic yet? Although he needs time United want the best straight away, we have that stubbornness and impatient nature due to how Sir Alex’s reign has spoilt us with success and good performances.
But like Sir Alex Ferguson needed to do, to receive his knighthood was be patient and go through had-grafting and that’s what young Jones and his partner in work Smalling need to do.
What we know from Jones is, he’ll play anywhere, full-back,centre-back and even midfield when a few years ago he played there and charged forward well and even had an eye for a creative pass.
Phil Jones is now 23, he wears the number 4 and has made 17 appearances this season where he has won 29 tackles which is a success rate of 50%. And with 61 interceptions, 122 clearances and 6 blocks on his CV for the season we can all agree it is a pretty tidy season for the young man from Lancashire. This will need improving, but if he carries on his strong work ethic and his desire to improve, Sir Alex may be right about Phil Jones and there are two outcomes to his future, he may play like a legend and be the “beauty” or he will become surplus to requirements and become the “beast”.