Enough is enough. Phil Jones should no longer be allowed anywhere near Manchester United’s first-team. He has failed to live up to the hype around his signing from Blackburn Rovers and is a liability at the heart of the United defence.
When Jones was signed from Blackburn by Sir Alex Ferguson, he boldly declared he would be a future England captain and claimed he could be one of the best ever United players: “Jones is going to be a phenomenal player,” Sir Alex said back in April 2013.
“He has a fantastic influence, no matter where he plays.
“He has an instinct for the game and a drive about him.
“I have no idea where his best position is. He could play anywhere on the pitch. But he will be one of the best players we have ever had.”
If that did not whet your appetite, then nothing will.
Sadly, Jones has failed to live up to this high praise. So far at Man United, he has been in and out of the team, mainly through injury, mainly caused by his overzealous tackling in games and in training. He seems to only have one gear, top gear, and it turns what is arguably one of his greatest assets into a weakness. Sometimes his enthusiasm is his enemy.
This season, Jones has suffered with a hamstring injury and shin splints. These injuries have disrupted his development but a lot of his injuries appear to be down to his style of play. He is far too rough in the challenge, having taken out himself and fellow players in training as well as in games. Jones simply has to adapt his style of play to avoid ruining his career, otherwise his body will not be able to cope.
Jones can regularly be seen flying into challenges which some people like but look at the cultured defenders that have graced the game. Baresi, Maldini and Ferdinand to name a few – all read the game so well they hardly ever had to fly in or do any last minute challenges. Most of the time, Jones’ recovery challenges come as a consequence of his own mistakes.
He was bought to replace the ageing Vidic and Ferdinand and after nearly four years at the club, you would expect Jones be a first-team regular the ideal player to help new signings like Rojo and Shaw settle in, just like Rio and Vidic did when Jones arrived. Sadly, that’s not the case.
Whilst Evans and Smalling have done little to convince Van Gaal that they deserve to be part of United’s future of, Jones has failed to build on his own potential and when you compare him to before he joined United a few years ago, he simply hasn’t progressed enough.