I strange article popped up on Emirates 24/7 recently, titled ‘Why Phil Jones is hurting Man Utd’. I don’t really recommend reading it as it’s overly negative and doesn’t really argue its case, but it does raise an interesting question. Has Jones shown that he’s the real deal? Does he have a proper future at Manchester United?
He’s come into a lot of criticism lately. Fans cite his lack of technique, wonky passing and aimless dribbling as evidence that he’s not quite good enough. But does this criticism hit its mark?
The Emirates 24/7 article claims that before United’s showdown with Athletic Bilbao, Phil Jones ‘said something to the effect of he has nothing to prove to anyone’. Not only is this incredibly vague, it’s not particularly incriminating either.
At 20-years-old, does he really have anything to prove? Yes he plays for Manchester United and as a result there’s a certain level of expectation, but beyond that what do fans want to see? They don’t expect him to out-skill players. He’s not Samir Nasri, he’s not Arjen Robben. He’s not a ‘pass master’ either. He’s Phil Jones and he works bloody hard each and every game. That’s all the fans care about.
It’s frustrating to see him give the ball away when Manchester United are struggling to keep pace in the chase for the Premier League title. His lung-busting runs don’t always come off. But let’s not forget that he’s only 20-years-old.
I don’t think it helps that he’s been forced to play at right-back so often. He’s a terrible crosser and I think United would be better suited chucking on Rafael da Silva. Jones is better suited to a role in the centre of midfield, or the centre of defence. He’s strong and he’s athletic. When everybody else is getting tired he has the legs to drag Manchester United over the line.
I don’t mean to claim that he’s the solution to Manchester United’s midfield woes. He’s still 2-3 seasons off hitting his best form. But he’s got the potential to be the kind of box-to-box midfielder that Anderson never really became (and likely never will). He’s got the will to proceed and he’s got time on his side. As long as he continues to work hard, I’m sure the fans will stay off his back.
So what, exactly, does he have to prove to any one?
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