September 4, 2017
In what has been an exhilarating and undoubtedly successful start for Manchester United in the 2017/18 Premier League campaign, fans have been quick to sing the praises of players, who have certainly hit the ground running. Although it has been the attacking talents such as Romelu Lukaku, Henrikh Mkhitaryan, Paul Pogba and Anthony Martial who have been inevitably grabbing all the headlines, there has also been another name that has caught the eye of fans so far this season. That is no other than Phil Jones.
The English defender has impressed at the back this season, forming a solid and reliable partnership with fellow teammate Eric Bailly, a partnership that has heavily contributed to three clean sheets in just three League games, for United so far this season. It must, of course, be noted that Jones did, of course, enjoy an impressive spell under Jose Mourinho last season, in which himself and Marcos Rojo formed a rather surprising but yet effective partnership across United’s back line until injuries halted Jones’ form. This has arguably been Jones’ pitfall during his entire United career, as although he does impress when fit, his game time on the field has been restricted due to his unfortunate injury record.
However, the bright and fresh displays showcased so far this season has however marked a potential turning point in Jones’ career as a Red Devil, with fans hoping that this be the season where the Englishman can finally enjoy a consistent run-in within the side. As mentioned, Jones’ solid defensive performances have resulted in the central defender receiving praise from both the fans and Mourinho himself, but this week he again received another ego boost, following England manager Gareth Southgate’s comments, in which he labeled Jones as England’s best defender. Speaking in a recent interview, Southgate stated:
“Not just this season but there was a long period in the middle of last season where I think he has been the best defender. He’s got very good composure on the ball. He’s got the reading of the game, he’s aggressive in his defending – which I like – and I think he has got fantastic experience, although he is still only relatively young.
“Obviously, he has missed a lot of football. I remember watching him against Spain under Fabio [Capello] so we are going back quite a long way since he made his debut. He’s had great experiences with club and country. He organises well, he competes well so I’m delighted we’ve been able to involve him this time and it was clear the other night [against Malta] what he brings to the team.”
These comments will hopefully do nothing but spur Jones on even further, as the player certainly looks to be enjoying a new breath of confidence, every time he steps out onto the field. At the age of 25 now, this is certainly a pivotal time in Jones’ career, where he needs to be buckling down a starting place for both club and country. If Jones can stay fit throughout the season, he will certainly play a large factor in any potential success that United are to achieve this season and following Jose Mourinho’s clear admiration of the player, he looks set to be one of the first names on the team sheet.