Date:14th April 2012 at 12:29am
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Jones' return could be vital tomorrow

Our best summer signing? Our best player?

It’s that time of the year where we decide our player of the season, here at Red Flag Flying High, our various writers have different opinions on who deserves the accolade of ‘United’s Player of the Season.’ Here’s Steve’s view on why it should be man-mountain Phil Jones. Whether you agree or not you can cast your vote at the poll at the foot of this article. 

“If you talk to Bobby Charlton, Phil Jones reminds him of Duncan Edwards“ Paddy Crerand told the world when asked about the new kid on the block.

There is nothing in this world that could equate to such a compliment and phenomenal comparison as those words that fell from a legend’s lips.

When Fergie picked this kid up from Blackburn Rovers for £16.5m in the summer of 2011, a lot of supporters, pundits and cynics were asking:  “What?” “Who?” “Why?” “How Much? “

At a time when the club were being linked, albeit speculatively with players such as Wesley Sneijder and Alexi Sanchez, the boss was quietly working in the background, as he usually does, to snap up a promising 19 year old centre-back, who’d played 35 league games for our Lancashire neighbours.

“One for the future” many cried. “Expensive bench warmer” others preached. Neither exactly accurate. Best summer signing could be closer to the truth.

It wasn’t long before Phil Jones was thrust in to action in the first team, making his competitive debut for the reds as a second-half substitute, replacing Rio Ferdinand in the FA Community Shield clash against Manchester City in their 3-2 victory.

The following week he made his league, again as a substitute replacing Ferdinand, as United beat West Bromwich Albion 2–1 on the opening weekend.

With two strong substitute appearances under his belt, we saw a snippet of how important the signing of Jones was a week later, making his full Premier League against Tottenham Hostpur in a 3–0 victory at Old Trafford.  Here, he played the entire game alongside Jonny Evans, a solid yet fairly in-experienced partnership playing their part in keeping a clean sheet.


Already impressing and wowing United fans and supporters up and down the land with how well he’d settled in, Jones provided two assists for Wayne Rooney in United’s 5-0 thumping of Bolton Wanderers at the Reebok Stadium in September.  Jones was playing at right-back in this one and created Rooney’s first goal after a quick throw in and pin point cross for Rooney to tap home. Five minutes later, Jones mazy run took him past numerous Bolton defenders before his shot was blocked by the goalkeeper but followed up by Rooney.

A similar run from him in the following game at home to Chelsea caused chaos in the Londoners defence, before the ball fell to Wayne Rooney to score. United went on to win the game 3–1.

Taking it up a further notch, Jones started the away game to Liverpool as a box to box midfielder, different from his usual defensive positions and again he amazed us with a man of the match performance.  He would again star in the midfield , when he scored his first ever senior goal on 3 December 2011, in a 1–0 away win against Aston Villa. He arrived in the box from centre midfield to meet a cross from Nani with a controlled side foot volley to score the game’s only goal.

Why is Phil Jones Player of the season?

Phil Jones is only 20 years old.  In a campaign where we’ve been blighted by injury after injury not just in defence but also in midfield, the youngster has been asked to perform a range of duties.  These duties have been in a range of positions, and his performances have been like that of a man ten years older than himself, who’s been playing for us for a decade.  Yes he has things to learn – he’s just a kid – but the qualities that he’s exerted on the team far, far outweigh the parts of his game that still needs to develop.

He’s a vocal lad too.  Remember the 8-2 victory against Arsenal?  Ji-Sung Park entered the field as substitute and Jones, only a few matches in to his Manchester United career was barking orders at the experienced South Korean, pointing to the positions he should take up like a captain.  This was despite our sizeable cushion on the score line.  It was as surreal to see as it was special.  That skippers armband will be his in the near future.

For me, we have a host of players who can lift the player of the season title for 2011-2012.  It’s the flair players that excite supporters, and generally get given this accolade.  But all things considered, a winger who impresses on the wing and delivers a decent cross, or a striker who puts the ball in the net are just doing their job well.

If you look at what Phil Jones has been asked to do, I don’t think that anyone has had to put in as much work, and delivered such a committed, successful and wide a range of responsibilities as he has.  And he’s done them well.  It’s this wide picture that clinches my vote for the young lad…will it clinch yours too?


Follow Steve on Twitter: @stevecrab

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