The boy is just a bit special



There is a certain elixir in youth. The vibrancy and the genuine excitement delivered by younger stars introduced to Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad this campaign has transformed the Old Trafford atmosphere – quite literally, as our American brothers sometimes say. Despite United’s outstanding record at Old Trafford last season, where 19 Premier League games brought 18 victories, the inescapable feeling that Ferguson’s 2010 vintage was not quite up to scratch pervaded the Reds’ campaign.

It was out with the old as Wes Brown, John O’Shea, Owen Hargreaves and a plethora of retirees made way for an influx of the new this summe. The transformation has brought not only a new style to United’s play but fresh hope too. In all of that one man stands out, one man stamped with the mark of genuine, undeniable quality. There is a feeling deep inside that, in Phil Jones, we are witnessing the emergence of a genuine world talent

Jones’ powerful running from central defence, full-back or – frankly – wherever he feels like, is compelling. As is the player’s passing, positioning and, lest we forget, defending. Jones’ running from right-back at the Reebok Stadium earlier this month seemed as effortless as it was natural. The defender’s composure in central defence at the Britannia, even under the incessant aerial onslaught, confirmed the feeling that the player is ready for the big time. Right now.

That 19-year-old’s powerful build has drawn lazy comparisons with Nemanja Vidic and, God forbid, John Terry. Let’s have none of that. Jones is a real player. More Rio Ferdinand than Vidic, yet with the captain’s temperament and a physique to surpass the former Leeds United player in every department.

Such is Jones’ quality that Sir Bobby Charlton and Pat Crerand were drawn into making the almost inevitable comparisons with Duncan Edwards last month. That comparison should wait, at least until Jones approaches the 171 game marker the late, great, Edwards reached for United.

The more relevant test is whether Jones compares with the best available in the country today. Would Sir Alex swap his 19-year-old phenomenon for Terry, Phil Jaglielka, Jolean Lescot, or Gary Cahill? Not a prayer. £16.5 million was supposed to include an ‘English premium’, but when it comes to questions of value for money spent, the player would be cheap at twice the price.

Jones’ quality on the ball has also brought the inevitable call for the player to be deployed in midfield. There is little doubt that the player’s touch and passing would allow Jones to compete in the heart of Ferguson’s side. There is something in the argument that Jones could play almost anywhere and hold his own. With Ferguson’s squad still lacking a genuine, tough-tackling, ball-winner in the Roy Keane mould, the cry for Jones to fill that void is all the more inevitable.

Yet, it is also a demand that smacks of that old Anglo-Saxon suspicion of the ball-playing defender. Indeed, Ferdinand’s emergence at West Ham United in the late 1990s brought the same call. The question, surely, is why Jones shouldn’t be retained in defence, where he will become a world star, rather than be pushed into midfield, where he will be one among many. At Barcelona, for example, where possession of the ball is king, midfielders become defenders and not the other way round.

The debate may be moot. Given the surging runs from defence at the Britannia Jones helpfully fulfilled that old cliché: two players in one. At times that buccaneering style, the willingness to break out of defence and create a fifth man in midfield so clear against Stoke, may open United to the threat of counter-attack. Jones will learn, if he doesn’t already know, when to go and when to stay.

Ferdinand used to have that too, but somewhere along the line the fear took hold and the Londoner’s forays forward became more restricted. A rarity even. Somehow Jones’ fearlessness, bravery, and savvy way beyond his years seems likely to prevent a repeat.

No wonder United tied up Jones’ signature months ahead of his official July transfer from Ewood Park, at least according to weekend reports. While United fought hard for Smalling’s signature, fending off Arsenal’s admiring attention among others, Ferguson had no intention of allowing even a debate to unfold where Jones was concerned. Fortunately for United, the admiration was always mutual.

There is still something to work on with the youngster, despite the sense that the player has been two decades in the United side, rather than two months. The former Blackburn Rovers player was caught on the wrong side of the man he was marking as Peter Crouch headed home at the Britannia, for example. That we are resorting to the minutiae of Jones’ game to draw out criticism says much for the man already.

Meet Phil Jones. World star in the making and a joy to behold.

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  • Steve

    You are bang on the button. That lad can be anything he wants to be. And he seems to be fairly level headed too which helps.

  • Reuben

    He was massively at fault for Crouch’s goal and hes often been caught out of position. I criticised David Luiz for doing the same thing last year, and I’m not convinced Phil Jones is any better.

  • captainhormone

    Commenter said:
    He was massively at fault for Crouch’s goal and hes often been caught out of position. I criticised David Luiz for doing the same thing last year, and I’m not convinced Phil Jones is any better.

    Reuben…hmm..says it all really

    • Reuben

      hmm, borderline racist.

  • RobDiablo

    If Jones want to be a central defender, no problem. But, whenever he is being kept out of his preferred position by Rio and Vidic, why not use him as a midfielder? He’s bound to be better than most of what Sir Alex has to choose from in the center of midfield.

  • redevil_83

    that was the only one mistake i saw from phil jones on the crouchy goal. otherwise he comtinues to improve leaps and bounds every passing game. at 19yrs young he has tremendous potnetial still for a DEFENDER. wonderful to watch.

  • dozer

    He’s got potential, perhaps to be the best in his position, but I think we’re overrating him a bit at the moment. We’re perhaps loving him more because we were long thirsty for a ball winning Roy Keane type player who drives forward and Jones looks the part – although he’s a defender.

    He wouldn’t start in our team if all our players were fully fit, Rooney for example would have at Jones’ age. We have a special talent yes, but he’s got a lot to prove.

    If we really had to compare, lets compare him with the recent greats and how much they had achieved at Phil’s age. Ronaldo, Messi, Rooney would have all started for any club in the world.

    I’m not trying to sound harsh, but Jones has quite a bit more to do to convince us that he’s THAT special.

  • dozer

    - and we kind of did something similar with Anderson (albeit not so much) after the game where he emptied his bowels on Fabregas.
    Edit: Sorry – shouldn’t have brought this up again

    Sir Ryan Giggs? No no no. Sir Paul Scholes say.

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    hell be captain of utd and england by the world cup

  • Just1n

    Fergie will play him out of position and he will end up like Oshea – was excellent in his first season then became another jack of all trades but master of none. Just like Phil Neville.

  • Wil

    PJ has immense potential but let’s give him more time. It’s way too early to compare him to any premier league’s or utd’s greats. The past few games he has been playing well but I don’t think he was extraordinary and definitely he didn’t have any man of the match showings. Yes, he made some decent runs showing great skills but let’s see if he can be consistently doing this. Smalling on the other hand has been showing consistency and is dxxx good. If PJ lives up to expectations, then Smalling + PJ will be utd’s heartbeat for years to come!

    I’m still clueless what’s going on with our midfield. Ever since Cleverley’s injured, we have been playing similarly to last year and again proving our midfield is mediocre. Think about it, Stoke played high up the field and again, our midfield couldn’t get the ball out of our half. Hence Jones just took things to his hand and made a run or two on his own. Definitely, midfield is our problem this season and I really want to see how Fergie is gonna deal with it! C’mon Fergie prove me wrong again!

  • han

    fucking junior superman

  • Tom Addison

    “At Barcelona, for example, where possession of the ball is king, midfielders become defenders and not the other way round.”

    Very good point, which I think explains these feelings I had deep down in my United guy that Jones should stay as a defender and not become a central/defensive midfielder.

  • Tom Addison

    Should say United gut*

  • captainhormone

    Commenter said:
    “At Barcelona, for example, where possession of the ball is king, midfielders become defenders and not the other way round.”

    Very good point, which I think explains these feelings I had deep down in my United guy

    Conker deep??

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Commenter said:
    He was massively at fault for Crouch’s goal and hes often been caught out of position. I criticised David Luiz for doing the same thing last year, and I’m not convinced Phil Jones is any better.

    He’s only 19 for fuck sake.

    He’s still got a lot to learn, and you’re talking about an aspect of his game that’s dependant on experience… the crucial point is… he’s got the build, the natural tools, and has already shown the skills, confidence, composure and attitude of a leader… at only 19… now he gets to train with Ferdinand and Vidic, under the guidance of Ferguson.

    If you could mix and match players, to come up with the ideal… I think Ferdinand and Vidic would give you near enough the perfect defender… and Ferguson has a fantastic track record with defenders.

    If Jones avoids the big injuries… he will become one of the greats… no worries.

  • reddread

    Agreed, Alf. The lad’s quality and assurance on the ball is astounding for one so young. I can’t remember the last time a defender of that age was as good as he is. Of course, he isn’t the finished article, but he’s fucking 19! People finding faults with him are just being picky for the sake of it.

  • captainhormone

    he is 6 and a half years older than my eldest lad…..fuck me, he is still a kid and he plays like a man…people criticising him need to have a little perspective as he is indeed special…not in a tardy way either.

    In fact i’m old enough to be his dad..Alf is old enough to be his Granddad…..Red??wELL…HE’S OLD ENOUGH TO BE HIS SUGARDADDY

  • reddread

    I’m no older than you, you cheeky cunt!

  • RobDiablo

    Commenter said:
    I’m still clueless what’s going on with our midfield. Ever since Cleverley’s injured, we have been playing similarly to last year…

    Think about it. With Cleverley out, Sir Alex only has the same tired options in midfield that he had last season, but now, they are all one year older and not one bit better.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    RobDiablo said:
    Think about it. With Cleverley out, Sir Alex only has the same tired options in midfield that he had last season, but now, they are all one year older and not one bit better.

    Plus… we don’t have Scholes anymore.

    • Mongoletsi

      Or O’Pie to slot in, thank fuck!

  • Bobby

    Even the best defenders around will lose to Crouch in the air. And we must know that Luiz was 23 while Jones is 19.

  • ltel

    what is racist??.. every fucking thing is racist now..cant order food without being racist these days

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    ltel said:
    what is racist??.. every fucking thing is racist now..cant order food without being racist these days

    YOU FUCKING RACIST CUNT

  • ltel

    fuck up

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    OK,soz Tel.

    LOLOLOLOLOL,,,

  • han

    as evidenced by tonight…jones is a real talent but needs experienced players around him to keep him on an even keel

  • Peter

    Reuben, your being intellectually challenged if you think the commenter is being borderline racist in his response to you. Seriously………

    • Reuben

      what else could he mean by referencing my name, and that my name implies my view is going to be wrong/stupid or whatever? If you can offer and alternative explanation I’ll happily withdraw my comment.

      Anyway, sort of looks like I was proved right. I’m sure he will be an excellent defender – but this hype, such as comparing him to Duncan Edwards…. please.

      Also worth noting that while Barca have ‘attacking defenders’ such as Pique, hes operating within a system that lets him bomb up field, as Busquets drops back into the backline. Utd don’t have the same system, thus his forward raids are foolish.

  • reddread

    han said:
    as evidenced by tonight…jones is a real talent but needs experienced players around him to keep him on an even keel

    Like Rio and Evra, you mean, han? Not his best performance last night, but like a headless chicken at times, but hey, he’s young and has played a handful of competitive games for us. He’ll learn. To hear some people talk *cough* danniitronix *cough*, he’s a liability and we’re all clueless dicks for seeing nothing more than great potential in him.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    In his early years Rio was serial blunderer as well.

  • captainhormone

    Danni et al….all this talk slagging Jones off smacks of racism…let’s knock the white boy down..let us suppress him……same with Anderson too….you hate honkies admit it….

  • captainhormone

    oh i can easily clear that up for you Reuben

    I was referencing your name as it sounds like a benders name

    hope that helps.

    • Reuben

      oh right, just borderline homophobic then, much better.

  • captainhormone

    no problem

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    Commenter said:
    Anyway, sort of looks like I was proved right. I’m sure he will be an excellent defender – but this hype, such as comparing him to Duncan Edwards…. please.

    Let’s be honest… what do you or I really know?

    Charlton is impressed and it was him that made the Edwards comparison.

    That impresses me.

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    captainhormone said:
    Danni et al….all this talk slagging Jones off smacks of racism…let’s knock the white boy down..let us suppress him……same with Anderson too….you hate honkies admit it….

    Ando ain’t no honkie, he is a black man just like Cal.

  • captainhormone

    Outrageous comment…you need your eyes testing…Ryan Giggs is the one true black man in the Utd squad, and myself and UNCLEKNOBHEADFFS (GODMENTORLKHFPINCHBECKBERBATOVOU on this site

    FFS Danni…Denial aint no river in Africa boyfriend!!!

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    knobcap

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    captainhormone said:
    Outrageous comment…you need your eyes testing…Ryan Giggs is the one true black man in the Utd squad, and myself and UNCLEKNOBHEADFFS (GODMENTORLKHFPINCHBECKBERBATOVOU on this site

    FFS Danni…Denial aint no river in Africa boyfriend!!!

    ffs

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    black homo did you say?

  • dozer

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    Let’s be honest… what do you or I really know?
    Charlton is impressed and it was him that made the Edwards comparison.
    That impresses me.

    Charlton said his physique or something of that sort is similar to Duncan’s. That’s how I remember it.
    Edit:
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2011/0824/1224302896351.html
    ‘“If you talk to Bobby Charlton,” Crerand says, “Phil Jones reminds him of Duncan Edwards with his power and build.”’

    Sir Ryan Giggs? No no no. Sir Paul Scholes say.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    dozer said:
    Charlton said his physique or something of that sort is similar to Duncan’s. That’s how I remember it.

    Edit:
    http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/sport/2011/0824/1224302896351.html

    ‘“If you talk to Bobby Charlton,” Crerand says, “Phil Jones reminds him of Duncan Edwards with his power and build.”’

    How does that differ from what I said?

  • dozer

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    How does that differ from what I said?

    It’s like comparing Di Santo to George Best ffs – physique, not skill for us to use as a reference to rave about

    Sir Ryan Giggs? No no no. Sir Paul Scholes say.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    dozer said:
    It’s like comparing Di Santo to George Best ffs – physique, not skill for us to use as a reference to rave about

    FFS WHAT?

    I didn’t compare him to Duncan Edwards… I’ve never seen Edwards play… I just said Charlton, who HAS seen, and played with Edwards is impressed with him… and that’s impressed me.

    Quit looking for an argument.

  • captainhormone

    DANNI AND DOZER MAKING RANT THE NEW KASHMIR

  • squigs

    He has impressed me much more then I expected since he arrived, with this he was setting himself up for a fall and he struggled against a Basel team who in fairness attacked with numbers and at great pace.

    If I had to be super critical I had a nagging concern even watching him against the Premier League teams that he might struggle in Europe at first, as he isn’t quite as quick as other defenders in particular Smalling and can’t use his pace to get him out of trouble and he still likes to go a bit too far forward when going forward. I think we would be better suited throwing out to full back where he did seem supremely comfortable and can go further forward without leaving gaps at the back.

    He looks a marvelous prospect though, one game won’t change that he has been the highest rated English Defender to come through in a long time. Better even then Ferdinand at the same age.

  • Alfonso Bedoya

    I’m really coming around to the idea that he’d be best suited for midfield… a real box to box monster.

    He likes to get involved with the play too much to just sit back and defend.

  • captainhormone

    me too Alf…energy and is dynamic too….strong, powerful and good with the ball…..has massive bollocks and aint scared of shouting abuse at more senior players

  • uncleknobheadforfucksake

    players like him and wayne you went em right in the thick of it not worrying about keeping the team shape and positioning and all that guff

  • captainhormone

    yeah…lepproper footballers play football i say

    thats what your carricks et al are there for

    let rooney, nani, jones and young run riot

  • http://www.unitedrant.co.uk/members/danniitronix/ danniitronix

    Alfonso Bedoya said:
    I’m really coming around to the idea that he’d be best suited for midfield… a real box to box monster.

    He likes to get involved with the play too much to just sit back and defend.

    Actually a very good idea. Perhaps he’s got too many ants in his pants to be a truly world class defender – and rather than taming that energy your better off employing it in the middle of the park where he can destroy the fuck.

    You can just tell Smalling is going reach a level higher than Jones in defence by the way he runs – just so silky and also because Jones wants to get involved higher up the field – that then leaves gaps, upsets formation and puts pressure on the defence.

    I agree with you that we shouldn’t calm the animal down just to make him a better defender, why not just unleash the beast (not captain’s cock) in the middle of the park.