Manchester United defender Phil Jones returned to first team action on Sunday night after completing his post-World Cup holiday. The England international wasn’t part of Gareth Southgate’s starting XI as the tournament progressed, but alongside Marcus Rashford, Jesse Lingard and Ashley Young was given three weeks to rest after the semi-final defeat to Croatia in Russia.
Jones was back in action for United as Jose Mourinho’s side were defeated 1-0 by Bayern Munich, and is already aiming his sights on a much improved campaign after last year saw Manchester City romp to the Premier League title.
”I thought we played well in patches but we’re disappointed with the defeat,” said Jones to MUTV after Sunday’s game.
“I’ve not trained for between 10 days and two weeks but it’s all about getting fit and sharp ready for the first game on Friday (against Leicester City). The lads look fresh and are enjoying themselves, and hopefully we can have a good season.
“I need to improve my sharpness a little bit, but the more I train and the more minutes I get, the fitter I will get. We’ve brought in a couple of new faces and maybe we get one or two more.
“We need to improve on last season; we know we weren’t good enough, and we need to challenge this season.”
Jones’ comments certainly mirror that of the majority of fans, who were deeply disappointed to see United finish so far behind their cross-city rivals in the league. A dismal Champions League exit to Sevilla in the last 16 hardly helped, with the season coming to a limp conclusion with a 1-0 defeat to Chelsea in the FA Cup final. Still, the purchase of Shakhtar Donetsk’s Fred will reinforce a midfield that needed some attention, and the rumoured purchase of a new centre back before the transfer window shuts could provide Mourinho with the defensive solidity that he’s been craving since he took charge of the club.