Phil Jones didn’t have as strenuous a summer as he would have liked, but the Manchester United defender still returned to the club sooner than was required from his post-World Cup holidays. The former Blackburn Rovers defender, who was part of Gareth Southgate’s England squad for the tournament in Russia, wasn’t part of the manager’s ideal starting XI, but enjoyed the experience, and given the need for his club to hit the ground running this season, he’s happy to have returned to training.
“Somebody asked me about it the other day and I don’t think it was as big a deal as the media and the public were making out,” said Jones to Manutd.com. “I wanted to come back. I had a couple of weeks off and I felt ready to go again. It wasn’t a big deal for me and the other lads that did it as well.”
Jones is aware of the pressure on United to achieve big things this season, after ending the last season a distant second to Manchester City in the league, and finishing the campaign without any silverware.
“Yes, of course [we want to win the Premier League]. It’s the most difficult to win out of the competitions in England. The level of the players and their fitness and ability is improving.
“You have to adjust and adapt to that, but it’s great to be a part of. The top six look very good and are going to be very competitive, so it’s going to be tough for us again this season – we know that – but I think we just need to focus on us a bit more and concentrate on how we’re going to approach games and let’s see where it takes us.”
The centre back will have a fight on his hands, given that Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof started this season in impressive form during United’s 2-1 victory over Leicester City last Friday, and with Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo aiming to force their way into Jose Mourinho’s plans.