He was once touted as the future captain of Manchester United and England but Phil Jones career at United has not just stalled but seemingly come to an end. A career that started so promisingly for the young English defender has been blighted with injury and an inability to stay fit.
Phil Jones has been ruled out with another injury and will miss at least the next month with a knee injury. Jones injury record has become some what of a joke among United supporters and most will now surely be asking if his time at Old Trafford has come to an end.
Jones was signed by the legendary Sir Alex Ferguson for £16.5 million from Blackburn Rovers in June 2011 after just two years with the Blackburn senior team. Sir Alex was particularly impressed with his commitment and leadership skills at centre-back, even at the young age of just 19.
His debut for United came during the 2011-2012 pre-season tour of the USA against Chicago Fire and he made his competitive debut in the 3-2 Community Shield win against Manchester City. Jones first season with the club was a successful one appearing 41 times in all competitions, scoring twice, with his first goal coming in a 1-0 away win over Aston Villa.
Jones received rave reviews for performances against Bolton, in which he provided 2 assist, Chelsea and Liverpool early on in the season. During 2011, then England manager Fabio Capello, compared Jones to former Milan and Italy captain Franco Baresi and former Real Madrid and Spain captain Fernando Hierro.
The 2012-2013 season for Jones was halted by injury and he only managed 24 appearances in all competitions for United. However he came back strong during 2013-2014 season, which was arguably his best season in a United shirt, making 39 appearances in all competitions for United and scoring 3 goals.
In 2013, after a game against Aston Villa, Sir Alex said after the match “You saw Jones tonight, arguably, the way he is looking, he could be our best-ever player.” With Sir Bobby Charlton also being known to have said that Phil Jones reminded him of Duncan Edwards.
Those words of praise for Phil Jones by Sir Alex Ferguson have yet to materialise and seemingly never will. From the end of the 2013-2014 season until now Jones has only managed 37 appearances for United in over 2 years. His season last year was wrecked before it began with yet another injury and during September Jones even admitted that Chris Smalling and Daley Blind were ahead of him in the pecking order.
The injuries sustained at the start of the 2015-2016 season may well prove to be the most costly in regards to Jones long term future at the club. Whilst Jones continued with injuries Chris Smalling was able to stay fit, become United’s starting centre back and never looked back. Jones has become United’s Mr Unreliable and unreliability is a death sentence at any big club.
The vast amount of injuries have more than prevented Jones from developing and evolving into a powerful, commanding and top class centre-back. Jones was tipped for the very top and was certainly heading that way early on in his United career. However the consistent and unrelenting injuries seem to have stopped Jones from reaching his potential and have left him at a crossroads.
Jones is still only 24 years of age, still relatively young for a centre-back, and could yet force his way into Jose Mourinho’s plans. However with the consistent run of injuries and inability to stay fit the more than likely outcome will be that United will look to sell the defender at the end of the season. Jones will then need to fight to save his footballing career and make sure he does not fade away into obscurity.
How do you feel about Phil Jones? Do you feel sorry for him? Do you feel he could have been a United great if not for injuries? Let us know you thoughts in the comments below.