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Confident Jones unfazed by Spanish test

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Phil McNulty | 23:00 UK time, Thursday, 10 November 2011

Phil Jones uses a classroom filled with tears at St. Paul's School in Lostock Hall as a permanent reminder of the responsibilities of representing England.

Jones was in that room near his birthplace in Leyland, Lancashire, as a 10-year-old when Brazil's Ronaldinho sent a free-kick floating over David Seaman to end England's 2002 World Cup at the quarter-final stage in the steaming heat of Shizuoka in Japan.

It was one of the Manchester United teenager's earliest memories of the power of football's greats - and he is ready to encounter more when England face world and European champions Spain at Wembley on Saturday evening.

David Seaman fails to stop Ronaldinho's shot during the 2002 World Cup.

Jones watched at school as Seaman failed to stop Ronaldinho's audacious lob. Photo: Getty images

Jones looks certain to win his second cap after making his debut in the draw in Montenegro that ensured England's qualification for Euro 2012. And wherever coach Fabio Capello deploys his versatility he will come face to face with world class opposition.

The prospect does not unsettle this remarkably assured youngster, who barely blinked apart from demonstrating his defiance and self-belief when questioned about the stellar names in Spain's line-up at England's Hertfordshire HQ on Thursday.

He is confident enough to take on any responsibility Capello cares to hand him, while also being aware of the weight of expectation every England player carries on Saturday, even in a friendly.

Jones said: "The first World Cup I remember was in Japan, when Ronaldinho chipped David Seaman for Brazil's winning goal. I watched the first half at home then went to primary school.

"I went in the half-time break because there was no way I was missing the second half. I got there with my breakfast and sat down to watch the game. The headmaster had drums out to watch the game and when Ronaldinho's goal went in, and when the final whistle went, everyone was in tears.

"I'd never seen anything like it. That's how much it means and that's why I understand when I'm playing for England what it means to onlookers who watch and support the national side."

Jones' adaptability means he may even be handed the task of jumping on Barcelona's midfield-passing "carousel" - a phrase coined by his own manager Sir Alex Ferguson - and trying to stop Xavi and Andres Iniesta when they switch from club to country and inspire Spain.

If the task of somehow slowing down the ride that has made Ferguson and his United side feel sick in two emphatic Champions League final defeats daunts Jones, he makes a very good job of disguising any unease.

"Nothing worries me," he announces with concrete-clad conviction. "I love playing football, I love what I'm doing. You get a few jitters before the game, that's only natural. If I didn't get that I'd think there was something wrong, but in general what have I got to worry about?

"I love playing and competing against the best players in the Premier League and all over the world. What more can you ask for?"

And what of Xavi and Iniesta, who were paid the ultimate compliment by Ferguson when he questioned whether the Catalan pair had ever parted with the ball to the opposition at any point in their career?

Again. No worries.

Jones says: "You can talk forever about how to stop Spain, but if we get in among them and around them and bite away, playing the way we can, we have got a great chance.

"There has been a lot of talk about Spain but not much talk about England. If we concentrate on what we're good at I'm sure we can go out with a good mentality and compete against the best."

The player, already tipped as certain future England captain, has polished a reputation forged at Blackburn Rovers after making his £16m summer move to Old Trafford, and shows admirable composure for someone whose career is only in its infancy.

He suffered an early setback when he was sent away from Bolton Wanderers - but their loss has been the subsequent gain for Blackburn Rovers, Manchester United and latterly England.

"I went on trial at Bolton when I was 10," said Jones. "It was their decision not to take me and I was probably too young for them to tell how I would turn out anyway. They told me I wasn't ready for it, which is fair enough. I went back to Sunday football and played in a final there and got the chance to go to Blackburn."

Jones then watched his football at Ewood Park before starting the journey many sound judges expect him to end with him leading his club and country.

Phil Jones is a confident and self-assured young man.

Jones is a confident young man with a strong belief in his ability. Photo: Getty images

He recalls: "I remember going on the terraces at Blackburn and my dad carrying me over the turnstiles to see people like Matt Jansen and Jason Wilcox."

And despite emerging as a serious threat to England captains past and present in Rio Ferdinand and John Terry, the experienced pair have proved more than willing to guide the defender being groomed to lead the next generation.

Jones said: "The likes of John, Rio and all the centre-backs at England are those I look up to. They have quality, class, presence. They rub off on players and their experience can only help you. The pair of them have helped me. John has helped me with England and Rio at club level.

"Whether it is just little tactical things or positionally or technically - it could be anything. I've learned a lot from the pair of them."

Now the learning curve takes a steep upward trajectory with the arrival of Spain's artists at Wembley, but Jones' body language suggests he is ready for the challenge.


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  • Comment number 1.

    Very impressed with Jones's attitude - a guy loyal to England and already proving himself a solid performer with United. Spain will be by far the toughest test of his career(and let's not kid ourselves, I'll settle for not getting outclassed like we were last time round!) but the bottom line is, we have at least one player that won't freeze under pressure like pretty much everyone did in South Africa! :)

  • Comment number 2.

    Looking forward to seeing a classy performance from a classy team on Saturday, no matter what XI either side puts out, I can only see one result: a Spanish cruise.

  • Comment number 3.

    That Jones lad is a lucky so and so, he's had very little time to really get down about England.

    Attended 2 England matches in 66, dad went to the rest of the games but since then barring the odd ocassion it's been one agony after another. I think 40 years is a long time to endure what has been mostly, absolute dross from England as a national team. We are also coming to the end of the lost generation with a manager who is leaving, so I guess the Spain result will not matter either way.

    For the first time in years I have a glimmer of hope for England as long as we get the right manager in. I certainly believe we have the nucleus of young talent to go forward.

  • Comment number 4.

    Saying something and actually doing it are two different things,this young lad will be awestruck come Spain.
    He seems good but way overrated and this unrealistic expectation and hype from the media especially will heap unnecessary pressure on him.

  • Comment number 5.

    Being the same age as Phil Jones, I too remember the heartache of 2002. Going in to primary school to watch the second half, only to see Ronaldinho chip Seaman from a mile out...

    But to the present. I can't help but think this friendly match is a bit of a lose-lose situation for England. I am by no means a pessimist when it comes to England, and I will always back them to the hilt, but if we lose the game badly, have 30% possession and ship 3 or more goals, then it will undoubtedly knock our confidence as a team. If however we win or draw, then the accompanying media frenzy will surely de-rail any stability we are trying to find, and raise expectations to a ridiculous level in the build up to Euro 2012!

    All told I think the best we can hope for is a narrow defeat, where we hold our own for large periods and there are some strong individual performances from some of our up and coming youngsters.

    My starting XI (not that this is likely to happen) would be:

    Johnson Wellbeck

  • Comment number 6.

    "The player, already tipped as certain future England captain..."

    Tipped... certain....

    Oh dear...

  • Comment number 7.

    My God, i feel so old! The first world cup i watched was spain 82 and i always argue it was a great one, what with Brazil, rossi, north of ireland beating spain etc, but having read what jones had to say about the intensity his classmates felt when england exited, it must be the same for every kid watching their first world cup. First cup is the deepest! (sorry!)
    Jones comes across as very media savvy for a 19 year old, as does chris smalling in interview. There has been a huge change to the sport / education balance in England for young professional footballers, but what strikes me is how erudite they are in interview as opposed to post match comments when the blood is running high.
    My step-daughter is 12 years old and has three hours a week of media studies as part of her curriculum! I was hammering out four piece joints (woodwork ref.) at her age!
    I think the interview said more about England's much derided education system than gave any particular insight into Phil Jones temperament.

  • Comment number 8.

    I think that it might be better if England lose or draw this game rather then win. Why? Well first of all the English media are masters at getting in over their heads at the smallest thing. Even if England win purely on luck, they'll see it as a resounding victory and sure sign that England are Euro and, dare I say, World Cup contenders. Which at this point, is pretty far from the truth.

    No, a loss or perhaps a draw would have the effect of putting the nation's expectations in a realistic perspective instead of a fanciful one. A neutral or negative result would also have the added effect of humbling the players to the task ahead of them. Which is why I think Capello should take this opportunity to drop Lampard, Barry, Gerrard, Terry and Ferdinand from the side. They probably won't make it to the 2014, so why not drop them early?

  • Comment number 9.

    Already tipped as a future England captain!! That's outrageous.
    He has just made a step up to a club like Man Utd. He is good and talented. But still he has to play week in week out and keep the same level of performance. His real skills will be tested in Champions league and of course against Spain this weekend. Even more than that he has to keep his head and not get carried away with all the hype surrounding the captaincy.

  • Comment number 10.

    England needs players with heart and we need to use our players physical presence I believe...
    A 4-2-3-1 would suit England very well and like I said we can be unstoppable with strength and heart...forget trying to copy spain, brazil, germany and lets try being ourselves...

    A.Cole - Terry - Ferdinand - Richards
    Parker - Barton (YES Barton who seems to have more passion than most)
    Young Lampard Walcott

    That is England's strongest 11 with the exception of Gerrard

    BUT im sure Capello and the FA would rather try to be like other countries and fail once again rather than having other countries trying to be like us...

  • Comment number 11.

    @7 I'm 23 and that 2nd paragraph (in the blog) made me feel old!


    Except for the draw aspect. I actually want England to get a good hiding. It may seem odd, but England have been the biggest International under-achievers for the past...10-20 yrs. And after a completely shambolic world cup, IMO where we were the worst team along with France and Nigeria. Nothing has changed. France exiled their whole team as well as a manager and Nigeria have a new manager and nearly got banned by their own PM from playing football ever again!

    England need a reality check, if we even get a slight 1-0 loss to the champions. We will assume all is well, plodder along with the same players, same hoof ball tactics and get embarrassed yet again as soon as we play someone remotely decent.

  • Comment number 12.

    @5 since smalling is injured, yes that lineup is unlikely.

    IMO Capello should have been kicked out despite the ludicrous compensation package he would have recieved. England needs a re-vamp, get rid of all the Lampards/Gerrards and actually try and build a team that will play well together, instead of picking the best individuals on offer. After seeing what has happend in the past why are we still doing it?
    Would love to see Cleverly and Wilshere in the middle in the future for England, just on the basis that they are very good pass 'n move players and could form a good CM pairing. Something we havn't had in the past decade. They might be able to string some passes together instead of Ferdinand et al lumping it up for Rooney to chase.

  • Comment number 13.

    4.At 00:03 11th Nov 2011, BroderickTendaiMaumbeLiverpoolCapsUtd wrote:
    Saying something and actually doing it are two different things,this young lad will be awestruck come Spain.
    He seems good but way overrated .................

    The only thing I can say about that comment with absolute certainty is that had Dalglish signed Jones last summer (as he wanted to) then this poster would be lavishing praise on him and agreeing with Phil 100%.

    However, as he now plays for Utd he's 'way overrated'.

  • Comment number 14.

    Hart and Jones handled themselves very well at the press conference - well done.

    Now please Capello, can we offload Terry and Lampard, and if you insist on Parker in midfield then for goodness sake also have someone who can pass the ball forward.

  • Comment number 15.

    good luck stopping the 'carousel' ! You'll need it!

  • Comment number 16.

    Jones is another below average English player who is going to get shown up by the best players in the world on Saturday. What an awful team we have.

  • Comment number 17.

    Jones is the future captain of our country. A collosus. England fans everywhere should be thanking Lord Ferguson as he is nurturing the spine of the future England team. Jones & Smalling, Cleverly and Wellbeck, Young and Rooney.

  • Comment number 18.

    Also remember the name Ravel Morrison......

  • Comment number 19.

    Lord Ferguson? Don't make me laugh.

  • Comment number 20.

    It's happening soon Soul patch. The Champions have dominated English football for the last 2 decades due to his unparralleled genius. Arise Lord Ferguson.........

  • Comment number 21.

    yes capello has made some mistakes, like reinstating terry as a captain (when, everyone saw rooney as the most applicable candidate).
    but i don't think it is good to accuse him for the failure of english football system as a whole to come up with good quality players.
    yes there have been very good players, but they are very few and far between.

    (Also if you remember that 2010 WC group game against saudi arabia, i would never pick those players again) i don't know how they can string 5 passes together against spain, if they play the same way...

    And yes i agree with the comment above that england should do what they do the best, rather than try to beat spain at their own game.

    All the best england. capllo show ur guts and axe those non-performing seniors...

  • Comment number 22.

    I personally did not think Spain were the best team in South Africa, the best side for me, who moved forward with patience as one unit with the ball on the floor where the Germans. However both sides play the correct way and I also do hope England are well beaten if nothing more than to prove that premiership football belongs in the dark ages.

  • Comment number 23.

    @22 I agree Germany played the most attractive football in SA, but they relied on dodgy linesman calls and disallowed goals to get them through. There's no justifying your comments on the Premiership, which this season has proved without any doubt it's the most entertaining league in the world.

  • Comment number 24.

    I'm not accusing Capello for the failure of the whole english system. You can't really pin that on one person.
    However, IMO his performance regarding the team is awful. Re-instating Terry as (c) as mentioned, and from my recollection was the only manager in the WC who didn't know his best formation, best 11 players, or our best keeper despite the numerous friendlies he had to tinker.

    In you point above I think you are refering to Algeria. And yes that performance was ridiculous.

  • Comment number 25.

    @23 Didn't exactly rely on poor calls to beat England. IMO they would have anyway. (can't remember that linesman call). England were poor and Germany as usual were outstanding.

  • Comment number 26.

    englands national team, what can one say other than....


  • Comment number 27.

    Another player being over hyped by the english media! Can they not just let young players develop without putting so much preassure on all these young players? Look at Theo Walcott and the whole of the 'golden generation' over hyped and over rated. James Milner another fine example, supposed to be the next best thing, he's average at best. You have one world class player in Ronney and that is it, Wilshire will be one but look at Spain... they have a squad of world class players. Yes I am Scottish which you may blame for my comment but we are sick of hearing up here that every tournament you go into your going to win. When are you going to realise your an average team that should NEVER be in the top 10 in the world rankings!!

  • Comment number 28.

    It would be far better for all englands players and supporters to observe total " silence " two minuets is after all not long enough considering nothing has been won for 40 + years worth any mention.

  • Comment number 29.

    I will never forgive DS for getting lobbed...on my Birthday!!

    The sooner England fans/press realise a decent performance and probably a draw or a 0-1 loss is actually a pretty good result the better we'll be! you can imagine the Sun headline if we lose 0-1 and play pretty well....Disgrace, Rubbish! We really need to bin off this championships and blood a younger team thats going to play for the foreseeable a la the Germans!

    P.S. where's Micah? I hope we get mullered down the right hand side!

  • Comment number 30.

    @27 Harsh Yes but True -- Media Hypes players too much, every Cup competition this happens

    Eng will get outclassed by spain or we will somehow draw if spain put there 2nd team !

  • Comment number 31.

    If Spain put out there 2nd team we will still lose!

  • Comment number 32.

    All this talk of Spain's 2nd team - getting the excuses in early are we?

  • Comment number 33.

    Hart and Jones. As much as I admire their talent as footballers, especially Hart, they really come across as naive. Are these statements prepared for them as they sound identical to every other England player from years gone by.

    "Jones says: "You can talk forever about how to stop Spain, but if we get in among them and around them and bite away, playing the way we can, we have got a great chance."

    No, Phil. No chance at all playing that way. In fact, that is the way Spain would love England to play. They would run us ragged chasing shadows and then waltz through a completely wasted Terry/Jones at the back. Spain play with a patience and technical ability England last had in the 60's and 70's.
    Premier league kick and rush has destroyed our international game.

  • Comment number 34.

    reading the blog I conclude

    1 : he has a good memory
    2 : he actually attended school
    3 : he suffers from delusions
    4 : his mouths in the right place
    5 : he's done nothing worth speaking about
    6 : he's english

  • Comment number 35.

    I hope he allows England to go out and play with pace and try to get at Spain's defence quickly. Whether this means a direct or long ball style I don't care. Half the problem with teams playing Barca and Spain are that they try to pass through the midfield and get pressed early and high up the field by the respective teams. Just bypass it by sticking someone up front who can hold onto it and just ignore the criticism. I think we'd stand more chance than by trying to replicate them.

  • Comment number 36.

    We can either allow billy danters circus..sorry i mean spain, to mince around with the ball for 80 or so minutes, or alternatively, we can just kick them around from the outset? cue lot's of upset purists and outraged spaniards dressed in pantaloons and frilly ruffs throwing handkerchiefs around.....

  • Comment number 37.

    Jones is young, talanted and undoubtedly over hyped by the media.

    However, he seems very level headed and he's in the right environment where barring injuries he should progress into being a world class defender and play for England for many years.

    Since as we have almost no chance of winning the euro's, I wish that Capello had the guts to jettison most of the older players and take a young squad.

    And why he isn't playing Micah Richards, I really don't understand. He's the best english right back by a country mile at the moment. Imo Glen Johnson just can't defend, he's more of a wing back.

    Spain to win 3-1

  • Comment number 38.

    Can't wait for the match to start.
    It will be a great test for England playing against the best team in the world.

    Interesting to see how they get on, who is selected and what tactics are used.
    If the England fans can get behind the team and they can show a bit of passion for the shirt then I'm hoping for a good performance where England atleast give them a game.

    I think the performance should be assessed more than the result.

    Bring 'em on!!

  • Comment number 39.

    @37 Good call on Richards

    The thing that worries me about Jones is his positioning, and if he is partnered with Terry in central defence, who we know has completely lost the plot, then there will be problems.

    The other thing that worries me is if Capello goes for midfield stodge and puts in Barry, Parker and Lampard - in that scenario, yes, the only solution is the long ball.

  • Comment number 40.

    Well said Phil Jones; now that he has done the talking, all that is left is to do his thing on the field. Best of luck or does he need luck? From the press hype, no. It would appear, now that he is playing in a top side, that he has landed and can take on the might of a squad of players that have been on that stage for years. Actually, I like the way Jones plays, especially when he attacks. He has something different to offer.

  • Comment number 41.

    Jones is a great young player. Comfortable on the ball, and learning his game. He can play the holding role in midfield, or bring the ball out from the back and start moves.

    He has all the attributes to be a great. Between him, and either Parker or Rodwell, we can certainly slow the Spanish passing. But i just hope we don't play Jones AND Smalling in the centre. That said, Terry will be found out because Jones isn't ready to baby sit the captain yet, so our choices there are limited.

    The biggest problem isn't our defence, it's our attack, robbed of Rooney and Wilshere for the moment, it is like taking out Xavi and Iniesta from Spain. Sure, Spain have better replacements, but if we play to our strengths and the players stick to their roles, there is no reason we can't cope with Spain's attack.

    Unfortunately, I don't see our makeshift attack really troubling Pique, Puyol or Ramos.

    But it won't be the whitewash the Spaniards on here would have you believe.

  • Comment number 42.

    punitive sentance - well i dont agree with kicking them for 80 minutes but certainly we have to find a way to nulify there best players who make things tick..but they have some exceptional players in every position so it will be a very tough game. Im of the opinion that if we play well and lose i have no doubt that we will learn from it especially the likes of jones,smalling etc

  • Comment number 43.

    Phil Jones says this

    "You can talk forever about how to stop Spain, but if we get in among them and around them and bite away, playing the way we can, we have got a great chance."

    Seriously! is it still the dark ages. i'm sure they will have had to deal with the "they dont like it um em" nonsense in every game they have played recently.

    Maybe we should concentrate on keeping the ball, scoring a few goals, "that would give us a great chance"

  • Comment number 44.

    i fear badly for englands midfield,without a fully fit gerrard or wilshere, milner,parker,lampard,johnson whichever combination it is will be lucky to get 30 touches each in the game. Bent will be isolated up top and people will think he had a poor game as he probably has no more than 10touches

    England arguably have their 3 best players out rooney, wilshere, gerrard aswell so evan more depressing as with those three in the team theres not much hope against spain

    Im hoping for a good performances but my head says it will be the usual 65-35 possesion in favour of spain with a comfortable win for them

  • Comment number 45.

    So Saturday gives us as United and England fans the first glimpse of the main reason why Ferguson bought this emerging talent to Manchester United.

    To stop Barcelona playing football, and mainly Xavi/Iniesta. Where better to start than in a meaningless friedly against them both for England. This kid is going to be a colosses, a true legend for both club and country. Tomorrow is just the start of a long journey to stardom!!!!

  • Comment number 46.



    i seem to recall you saying " things can only get better " a few years ago so no offence intended anything you have to say i will take with a pinch of salt.

  • Comment number 47.

    Barton (YES Barton who seems to have more passion than most)


    Because that's what England lack, PASSION. Never mind composure on the ball, the ability to keep possession or decent tactics.

    Same old drivel that keeps England as tournament no-hopers.

  • Comment number 48.

    Joihn Terry should be banned from wearing our famous England colours,he is a disgrace to his country,and no way on earth should he be allowed to be captain ever again

  • Comment number 49.

    What a pointless blog. Still, the BBC clearly wanted interaction ahead of tomorrow's game and with the folly that was the getting rid of 606, this is the only way they can do it.

    BRING BACK 606!

    Anyway, it's nice to hear good things being said about Jones and that he is confident. Frankly though, would I expect to hear anything else?

    I thought Jones at right back against Montenegro had a couple of hairy moments and was fortunate not to give away a penalty. Why Capello keeps overlooking Richards at right back is the question that journalists should be asking to Capello rather than the other fanciful, chest beating stuff that goes on.

    Looking forward to the match tomorrow.

  • Comment number 50.

    #48 andyb4855


  • Comment number 51.


    I think it's time we stopped calling these games 'friendlies', because it obviously then infers that they are meaningless.

    They do in fact have relevance, because they go towards the FIFA ranking system, which in turn decides the standard for tournament draws.

    We should call them 'ranking games', and that may actually help make them more interesting too.

  • Comment number 52.

    Phil Jones = Wes Brown.
    The hype was the same. Wes Brown was THE FUTURE for United and England.
    Sometimes things don't always go to plan :)

  • Comment number 53.

    I was 8 in 1986 so i don't remember the fall out from that World Cup, 1990 was actually ok so its from 1994 onwards I remember the hand wringing and bombast that follows an England campaign. In those 17 years nothing has changed, we are still a mediocre team that have a preposterous sense of self worth. We haven't learned anything and continue to disappoint.

  • Comment number 54.

    Seriously! is it still the dark ages. i'm sure they will have had to deal with the "they dont like it um em" nonsense in every game they have played recently.

    Maybe we should concentrate on keeping the ball,


    Yes but we can't keep the ball if we don't get it off them in the first place. I hate all the terms like 'bulldog spirit' but whilst we need to definitely keep the ball better, against Spain we also need someone to win it in the first place.

  • Comment number 55.

    Usually it takes something really special for a lad of 19 to break into one of the big International teams at the age of 19 or under ie Owen, Rooney, Ronaldo (Fat one) etc.

    Now it only seems to take playing a few games for UTD.
    Jones could turn out to be a great player or could be burnt out by the time he is 30 like for example Owen.

    All the other big nations seem to bed players in via a few years in the U21s to show them what international football is about.

  • Comment number 56.

    The way some people are building up Phil Jones, you could be forgiven for thinking he is the new Duncan Edwards. He shows promise and could become a very good player, but still has a lot to learn. To-morrow may well prove to be a very good education for him, not least in that hopefully he will understand that the neanderthal approach - "but if we get in among them (Spain) and around them and bite away, playing the way we can, we have got a great chance" - is not the way forward.

  • Comment number 57.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 58.

    How many more superlatives can we laud at this sizzling, sensational set of Spanish pros?

    Some of their football literally brings tears of joys to my eyes! Whereas, most of England's football makes my eyes close in slumber.

    This a real David v Goliath, boys v men, pub players v world-class pros tussle.

    I just hope, for England's sake, that the Spaniards cruise in second-gear, then the English may be able to keep the scoreline down to only 2 or 3. If Spain decide to put their foot on the accelerator and up it a couple of gears, then England will be on the wrong end of 5 or 6.

  • Comment number 59.

    Put it this way: I'll be pleasantly surprised if England manage to compete.

  • Comment number 60.

    #43 averageBBC_journalist

    Phil Jones says this

    "You can talk forever about how to stop Spain, but if we get in among them and around them and bite away, playing the way we can, we have got a great chance."

    Seriously! is it still the dark ages. i'm sure they will have had to deal with the "they dont like it um em" nonsense in every game they have played recently.
    Strange isn't it. If these words were used by, say, Tony Pulis on the eve of a game between Stoke and Man U or Arsenal, he would be damned from here to kingdom come for telling his players to take a physical approach.

    But, when someone else says it, it is sold as something of a virtue.

  • Comment number 61.

    Let's remember that Jones is part of a struggling Man Utd defence at the moment


    That's kept 4 clean sheets in a row.

  • Comment number 62.

    52.At 10:10 11th Nov 2011, fatClyde wrote:
    Phil Jones = Wes Brown.
    The hype was the same. Wes Brown was THE FUTURE for United and England.
    Sometimes things don't always go to plan :)


    You say that, but he scored a pretty good goal for United last Saturday..

  • Comment number 63.

    #55 clummers

    Indeed. Why he wasn't selected towards the back of last season when he was at Blackburn and yet was selected after playing (around) one game for Man U is odd to say the least.

    Also, I agree on the point with the U21's. Managers in this country seem to think it is a pain and a bad thing to represent your country and different levels.

    Compare that to, just for example, Juan Mata who played for Spain U21's in the summer, and he doesn't seem to have been too badly affected by playing lots of games.

  • Comment number 64.

    If Phil Jones is confident and unfazed then that must be a good thing. Frankly, if he was a bag of nerves and starry-eyed at the prospect of Spain pinging the ball around all evening then I would question his selection.

    Much debate continues on how to play against Spain (and Bareclona, as they seem to be mentioned in the same breath regarding their style of play). Most teams that I have seen attempt to play a containing game to limit the range that players like Iniesta and Xavi find.

    I think this is wrong because players like Iniesta and Xavi seem to thrive on the opportunity to play intricate, short passes that renders the containing (often "packed") midfield useless.

    So, as it is a friendly, I'd like to see England play much more pressure football further up the pitch, possibly deliberately overloading e.g. the left wing to apply pressure on Spain's right back. This may include playing SOME long balls over top, into the corner, forcing Spain to turn around and play some football closer to their own goal line than the half way line.

    I have never seen any team force Spain to play their football on the edge of their own penalty area. Let's be honest, their players are not superhuman and make mistakes. Making a mistake on the edge of your own penalty area can have gaol-conceding consequences.

    From what I saw in the World Cup, Germany played an excellent counter-attacking game against the likes of England and Argentina because there was space available to counter-attack into. I thought they were rather toothless against Spain because that space was not there - Spain just did not commit forward frequently enough to leave those holes.

    Easier said than done, of course, but I'd like to see what occurs when Spain are repeatedly made to perform closer to their own goal than their opponents'. It may be a chastening experience or it may be revealing. It seems clear that trying (a) to play like Spain against Spain or (b) trying to shut the space down is not very successful. Try something else.

  • Comment number 65.

    Does anyone know what's happened to Football_UK? Every second comment on these blogs used to be made by him, but now he appears to be MIA.

    He made a couple of appearances following Manchester City's derby-day demolition of Manchester United, but he was clearly a broken man.

  • Comment number 66.

    Strange isn't it. If these words were used by, say, Tony Pulis on the eve of a game between Stoke and Man U or Arsenal, he would be damned from here to kingdom come for telling his players to take a physical approach.


    Does it necessarily mean a 'physical' approach though? The first thing Barcelona do when they lost the ball is 'get in among them and around them' without actually resorting to Bolton style hacking.

  • Comment number 67.

    Don't think our chances are as horribly poor as people think - and in any case I go into the game optumistic. There are new faces and it's generally a young side, with great counterattacking potential - so as long as we are relatively solid at the back we have a chance. Not going to guess where Jones is going to play though - he could play as a defensive base although Rodwell might take up that role, having had prior experience with Silva as a fulcrum. Would expect something like...

    Walker, Jones, Terry, Cole
    Lampard, Milner
    Sturridge, Welbeck, Agbonlahor

    Would be nice.
    Oh, and 606 was an absolute pile of dung and I'm glad it's gone.

  • Comment number 68.

    Spain aren't unbeatable as Soul Patch would advise.
    The way to beat them is to keep the ball as a team and put pressure on their defence as that is the weakest area.

    Unfortunately though the English players panic when someone hasn't attempted to start an attack within 20 seconds of having possesion.

  • Comment number 69.

    63: Just before he was picked and after the move to Man U Capello said 'We need to wait because so far he has played one Premier League game and some minutes at Wembley. But potentially he is a fantastic player. He needs to play more games with Manchester United'

    It makes you wonder whether he knew Jones played for Blackburn at all!

  • Comment number 70.

    I would also like to point out that the ''The_soul_patch_of_David_ViIla'' at #16 and #19 is in no way affiliated to me.

  • Comment number 71.

    #66 We all follow United

    But alot of it is just perception I think. I'm really just having a dig at the spin that people can put on a comment depending on whether they want it to be viewed positively or negatively.

    Too few play a straight bat when telling a story nowadays.

  • Comment number 72.


    in no small part due to officials suffering from selective vision.

    nothing new there though.

  • Comment number 73.


    I am informed he's in a rehab clinic poor guy never got over 1-6 or was it 6-1

  • Comment number 74.

    #70 The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa

    Is it because your style and pub standard levels of comment are so easy to ape that no one noticed?

  • Comment number 75.

    68. At 10:43 11th Nov 2011, clummers wrote:

    The way to beat them is to keep the ball as a team and put pressure on their defence as that is the weakest area.

    Everybody knows how to beat Spain and Barcelona, but not many seem to do it in the big games. I wonder why?

    Is it because Spain are miles ahead of everybody else? And that teams like England are full of technically inept players, running around like headless chickens, huffing and puffing and getting a round of applause from the Wembley ''faithful'' because they manage to string 3 or 4 awkward looking 5-yard passes together?

    Spanish football is the height modern-day brilliance, whereas English football is stuck somewhere in the Jurassic period.

  • Comment number 76.

    Phil - I've watched Jones a few times now and IMO he is showing all the hallmarks of becoming a top class player. If he stays free from injuries, I say that because he is 'lighting fast' into tackles and that always produces an additional risk, then he could become an England football hero of the future.
    At the moment Phil Jones has the naivity/bravery of youth and he will show no fear of the Spanish. I doubt however that raw talent alone will be enough to inflict a loss on the World Champions; however if he can inject a more buccaneering spirit into the experienced players around him and with a fair wind behind them, who knows we might get a repeat of the 'Sir Francis Drake Final'?

  • Comment number 77.


    True I guess, although if Pulis or Coyle says his players are going to 'get stuck in', it's 99% certain what's going to follow on the pitch!

    England are in an awkward position though. Everyone including me can bang on here about not wanting England to use the so called 'bulldog spirit' and run round clattering into tackles like Robson or Pearce and just try and keep possession and use the ball better but you can guarantee a crowd at Wembley would start getting on the players backs if they tried it.

  • Comment number 78.

    I hope we put an old side out and get absolutely thrashed (5-0)
    or we put a new side out and we get respectably beaten (1-0)

    Spain are just too good and the only way england are going to get any better is by losing to teams better than themselves but showing their worth. Why not give players like rodwell a chance to play international football now so that when it comes to 2012 he has some real experience.

  • Comment number 79.

    I've read a few comments on here stating Rooney is our only WORLD CLASS player. No he isnt, he's not world class! Yes he's determined, yes he's a very good footballer, but no more, no less. Messi, Ronaldo, Silva, Villa, Sneider, Xavi, Iniesta... World class players. You wouldn't have Rooney over any one of these. Unless you're a Man Utd fan and have convinced yourself Rooney is God. He isn't, get over it.

    The only English player even close to world class over the last 3-4 years (as much as it pains me to say it) is Ashley Cole. Name a better left back, there won't be many that spring to mind, and every team has at least one specialist left back dont they?

    Onto the match itself, if Capello plays youth throughout I'd be worried, as a big loss could really knock their confidence. The last thing you want is promising players like Jones, Welbeck, Sturridge being battered in a game, could knock them back!

    And finally a personal plea to big Fabio... PLEASE don't play James Milner, Gareth Barry and Frank Lampard together!!! It doesn't work, no matter how much you think it might! Collectively they're too slow, lack imagination and jst get in each others way.

    Walker... Jones... Lescott... Cole
    .........Parker.... Lamps...........

  • Comment number 80.

    Patches, I hope you're on here next week. Though, no doubt, whatever the result is you'll find a way to spin it so that it was either a cruise, or Spain were hard done by the officials.

  • Comment number 81.

    74. At 10:52 11th Nov 2011, MrBlueBurns wrote:

    No, MrBlueBurns, it's because there are about 5 or 6 usernames which are imitations of mine, and some of them are very similar to mine.

    As these users won't necessarily post comments that I'd personally endorse, I don't want people getting the wrong end of the stick, and thinking it was I that posted a pub standard comment, rather than the thoughtful and enlightened posts which - dare I say it - I am renowned for on these blogs.

  • Comment number 82.

    I've read a few comments on here stating Rooney is our only WORLD CLASS player. No he isnt, he's not world class! Yes he's determined, yes he's a very good footballer, but no more, no less. Messi, Ronaldo, Silva, Villa, Sneider, Xavi, Iniesta... World class players.


    How do you define World Class?

  • Comment number 83.

    81. At 10:59 11th Nov 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:

    "a pub standard comment which I am renowned for on these blogs."

    true dat

  • Comment number 84.

    Merson's pen(and everyone else that thinks we should constantly bow down to Spain forevermore):

    If you're so certain Spain will cruise this one then there's no point in any English fan watching the match is there? I'm joking but who in their right mind want to see their side get anhiliated under any circumstances? Football is meant to be a contest between two teams not a technical demonstration by one as you guys seem to want.

    As a Scottish friend said: "I enjoy watching Spain play, I don't enjoy watching Spain play 'us'".

  • Comment number 85.

    #77 We all follow United

    Indeed, the crowd would.

    Anyway, you can't please all the people all the time.

    England are on something of a hiding to nothing here of course. If we lose to Spain, it'll be the usual naval gazing about how we're simply not technically good enough (anyone care to define what 'technically good is'?), what is wrong with our coaching system yadda, yadda, yadda.

    Win? And people will either start bouncing around like we're going to be world champions (see the Red Tops) or people will say its a false result.

    Too many people just don't seem to have the capacity to look behind the result and see what actually happens.

  • Comment number 86.


    I agree it is a lot easier to say how to beat Spain/Barca than it is to do so.
    My point is that it is still possible.

    I also agree that England lack the tehnique to beat Spain by trying to keep the ball and out play them.

    Capello must have really got a shock when he accepted the England job, after years of managing some of the worlds best players, to turn up to the first England training camp to see the poor level of technique and skill the English players have.

  • Comment number 87.

    I would define world class as could drop into any team in the world.

    Thus, Rooney is world class

  • Comment number 88.

    @82 Ronaldo 100 goals in 105 games for Real.
    Messi breaking every footballing record at Barca at the moment. Goals to games ratio is outstanding.
    Xavi Iniesta heartbeat of the best team in the world so much so Fabregas cant get a game.

    I can see you're a Utd fan and would expect you to stick up for Rooney. I'm not saying Rooney isnt a very very good footballer, just not at the same level as the others i mentioned. I think sometimes in this country we mistake heart and emotion as world class, which probably isnt the case.

    Everyone has their own definition of world class, and no doubt some stats suggest Rooney belongs in that bracket. Just my opinion mate.

  • Comment number 89.

    @87 would rooney get a game for barca? i doubt it

  • Comment number 90.

    "I also agree that England lack the tehnique to beat Spain by trying to keep the ball and out play them."

    I don't buy this for a second, and i'm not sure why this idea has propogated so far.

    Our international footballers are perfectly able to pass the ball to each other, even Lampard! The only issue is that we, as teams, generally don't focus on keeping the ball - we focus on attacking.

    The Spanish style is to keep the ball, play it around until something happens. The English style is to push for an opening. Somewhere between the two would be nice, and we're perfectly capable technically - the players just aren't used to it as they don't do it day in day out.

  • Comment number 91.

    #89 jwl86

    Is David Villa really any/much better than Rooney?

  • Comment number 92.

    Ronaldo 100 goals in 105 games for Real.


    and that in itself says alot.

  • Comment number 93.

    "89. At 11:09 11th Nov 2011, jwl86 wrote:

    @87 would rooney get a game for barca? i doubt it"

    Doubt it all you like - that's your perogative - but I believe Pep would find a place for such a gifted individual, maybe instead of Villa.

  • Comment number 94.

    @ 87 GenesisRed would rooney drop into spain's team? Though he would drop in most teams, not denying, just maybe not the premier ones....

    @ Soul Patch

    Wonder if you'll be on the blog if the unthinkable happens and pub team England get a result vs Spain?

  • Comment number 95.

    I think Barca would have Rooney in their team. I always think world class would is that you would pick that player in a world 11. At the moment Rooney would make my bench so perhaps not world class?

    Who knows though as everyone has their own idea.

  • Comment number 96.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 97.

    Wonder if you'll be on the blog if the unthinkable happens and pub team England get a result vs Spain?

    nah he'll have his usual mundane excuses and tired know hes not spanish right?

  • Comment number 98.

    @ 91 name me another striker that has scored more than 20 league goals in last 6-7 seasons?

  • Comment number 99.

    "I think sometimes in this country we mistake heart and emotion as world class"

    I'd cast that goal against Newcastle against that. How many players in world football, including Messi, would have tried that, let alone scored it?

  • Comment number 100.

    Messi breaking every footballing record at Barca at the moment. Goals to games ratio is outstanding.


    Don't get me wrong, he's a brilliant player but take him out of that Barcelona team and put him in the Argentina team and he scored his first goal in just short of three years the other week.


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