One player who’s deserved better from his manager this season is the former Blackburn man Phil Jones. It’s not that Jones has been underused or publicly criticised by his manager, in fact its the opposite effect, the youngster has been used too much in positions that don’t suit him, during must-win games.
Jones was forced to play at right back against City, due to the injury to Jonny Evans meaning Chris Smalling was needed at centre back. Yet why couldn’t Tony Valencia be used at right back? He’s proven time and again he can play there, the only reason not to use his would be it’s a waste of his attacking talents, but if he’s not even on the pitch that hardly matters. Jones looked out of sorts at right back against Wigan a couple of weeks ago, and hasn’t looked comfortable in that position since early on in the season, when to be honest he looked a far more assured player. It’s as if the season has taken its toll on him and that’s hardly surprising the way he’s been treated. He’s been thrown in at centre back several times when it’s obvious he’s struggled there, right back again when he’s not looked right, and the one position he has looked best at, central midfield is a place he’s seldom been used in these past few months.
I know that Paul Scholes and Michael Carrick have made the central roles their own, but there’s been ample opportunity to give Jones a game there even if it’s a cameo just to get him used to playing in the side in a position that suits him.
At the beginning of this season, Jones looked like a world-beater, confident, powerful, energetic and fearless, he was even -albeit erroneously – compared to the great Duncan Edwards, now he’s more likely to be compared to Eddie the Eagle Edwards such has been his fall from grace.
The point is though, this isn’t Jones’s fault, he’s been moved around at the wrong times, made to play when he should have been rested and rested when he should have been given a game. The game against Wigan was a case in point. Jones desperately asked for help from his team mates when closing down the Pie Eaters for their goal, none was forthcoming, then later on in the game struggling with injury and unable to be subbed because United had used all our substitutes, it was a sorry sight, seeing the youngster hobbling about as Ryan Giggs inexplicably aimed a pass at him.
Jones is a class player of that there can be little doubt, but not a right back or even centre back and certainly not once every five or six games where he’s given no chance to even begin getting into the rhythm of being a regular fixture in the Reds defence.
Next season Jones should be used more as a midfielder a position he seems perfectly suited to, lets hope that him and Tom Cleverley can lead United into the next title challenge.
Have I been too kind to the player and too harsh on the manager? Is Jones the real deal? Feel free to share your thoughts below: