Many eyebrows were raised when Sir Alex Ferguson paid Blackburn Rovers 16.5 million pounds, for a virtually unknown English player. Phil Jones was his name, and he had a point to prove. Jones can play as a right back, central and defensive midfield, which is the position he played at Blackburn last year, making over 25 appearances.
I, for one, was very surprised that Sir Alex Ferguson splashed this amount of cash on an unknown teenager playing for a bottom club. I really thought that we needed a creative central midfielder, with experience. Like Sneijder or Shweinstieger. Over the years, I knew that I had to trust Ferguson, and that’s what I did.
Sir Alex said that he was impressed with Jones’s commitment when Blackburn were five goals down against us at Old Trafford. He saw this young lad screaming at his defense, and that got Sir Alex Ferguson thinking. Although, this wasn’t the first time Sir Alex saw Jones. Sitting in his office, looking through the window at Carrington, Sir Alex was watching the reserves take on Blackburn reserves, in 2009, and he watched this young boy bossing the field. Later that day, Sir Alex phoned Sam Allardyce, asking him if he could sign Phil Jones. Big Sam told Sir Alex to forget about it! And that he was going to play Jones versus Chelsea in the Carling Cup. I remember watching the game, and I was gob-smacked. I checked how old that kid was, and he was just 18! I couldn’t believe what I was seeing.
When Phil Jones arrived at United, I never expected him to play this many of games. The injuries of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic helped Jones get into the team. Game by game, he was improving. He’s got tremendous speed for a defender. If you recall back to the Spurs match, when Gareth Bale was running with the ball, and Jones was on the edge of the half, while Bale was in front of him, by a distance. I honestly thought that Bale was going to score. Then, Jones comes sprinting all the way and takes the ball away with a fair sliding tackle. It showed the skill that he’s got. Jones also has great technical ability, and can find space on the field. The match vs. Otelul Galati showed that. When Jones came up for a corner, and the ball bounces out of the box, along comes Jones, shimmies between a player, and shoots on goal, the ball was heading to the top corner, if it wasn’t for a deflected shot. He later on scored a great goal against Aston Villa, it was a peach of a goal! Nani takes the ball and sprints to the half way line, no United player was in the box except for center back Phil Jones. So Nani looks up, whips a cross, and Jones volleys it home.
For a 19 year old to make almost 50 club appearances is quite remarkable, and he’s only been playing football for two years! All of his skills grabbed the attention of England manager, Fabio Capello. Who handed him his second cap against Spain, in midfield. His first cap for England was against Montenegro, at right back. He started the match; he almost gave away a penalty at the beginning of the match, that was the only concern for him throughout the match. He was superb. Few months later, Capello gave Jones his second call up, against Spain and Sweden. Before the Spain match, Capello announced that Jones would be playing in midfield. When it was time for the game, you could feel that Jones was ready, and was about to do some magical stuff, and boy did he do that. He found space in the midfield more than once, which stretched the Spanish defense; he would have gotten an assist, if It wasn’t for Darren Bents poor positioning. The shocking part about Jones’s England career is that his first football memory was the Ronaldinho goal vs. England in the 2002 World Cup.
This boy has got talent, and I can assure you that he will be England’s captain. Just thinking about it, with the potential that Jones and Cleverley have, do we really need an extra central midfielder? We could play one of the twins at right back, Smalling and Vidic in the center of defense, Evra as left back. Jones could be the defensive midfielder, while the magical Cleverley can be our attacking midfielder. Behind Rooney and Hernandez/Welbeck We can win things with kids, we just need to wait for them to flourish and gain experience. We, the fans just need patience, and the coming years will certainly be a roller coaster ride.