In all the Wesley Sneijder transfer saga hyperbole and the awesomeness of Tom Cleverley’s Community Shield showing, something seems to have been forgotten by the media at large and a fair amount of Reds.
United’s quest for that elusive fourth Champions League crown, won’t be won or lost by the signing of another attacking midfielder nor will it rest on the shoulders of young Cleverley- although he could play his part.
As a few more astute commentators and United bloggers have been shouting ever since that dreadful night at Wembley when the sharply dressed Pep Guardiola’s team tore United apart in a Giggs-esque fashion, it’s a holding midfielder the Reds desperately need.
I myself have advocated bids for Lassana Diarra, Scott Parker or even giving the curly haired one another chance this season- that’s Owen Hargreaves in case you were thinking I meant one of the Da Silva twins.
While I’m loathe to get too carried away by 45 minutes of football, I surely cannot be the only one who felt an almost sexual twinge at the sight of Phil Jones stamping his authority in the middle of the Wembley pitch last Sunday.
Jones was an absolute beast, taking no prisoners yet displaying a calmness in possession which almost made me whisper the words ‘Roy Keane’ under my breath.
Too much time this Summer has been spent by many United fans- myself included- wondering whether Sneijder is worth the money or how Luka Modric would fit into the team, or if Samir Nasri would raise us a level, when the obvious problem last season was the lack of a true holding midfielder.
Darren Fletcher can do the job but has been besieged by his mystery illness problems, while Michael Carrick is no more a holding midfielder than he is a left winger- he’s simply played in the role due to a lack of other viable options.
United need someone to break down attacks before they reach the defensive line and regardless of his problems Fletcher didn’t cover himself in glory last season with one of his worst campaigns in recent memory. Carrick is great on the ball and can tidy things up but as was proven once again against the Catalonian juggernaut was simply out of his depth when asked to cope with the likes of Xavi and Iniesta.
Jones has that rawness than teenagers often possess, the sort of gung ho attitude that can actually be an asset. Think back to Wayne Rooney in his teens, how often did we see him daring to unleash a shot from a seemingly impossible distance for both club and country only to stand in awe of him as it nearly broke the back of the net?
Jones may have the youthful exuberance, coupled with a tremendous amount of ability to be able to get in the faces of the likes of Xavi, or Fabregas without being overawed by the occasion.
Let’s face some hard facts, when it comes to winning the league, most Reds would be satisfied the current squad are more than capable, but to win the Champions League may be a different matter.
To win Europe’s most coveted prize, it’s obvious United need to beat Barcelona and while that may still be a bridge too far, I cannot help but feel if we are to overcome them, then Jones could hold the key.
I know it’s a ridiculous amount of expectation to heap onto a nineteen year old yet to play a proper competitive match for United, but as is so often with my beloved religion, I cannot help but get carried away at times.
Have I gone in off the deep end or is Jones actually good enough to be the answer to the Barcelona problem?