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Phil Jones destined for Manchester United folklore

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Phil McNulty | 18:30 UK time, Sunday, 18 December 2011

At Loftus Road

Phil Jones was not even halfway through his day's work for Manchester United at Loftus Road when the latest lofty comparison landed on his head.

Everton's former Manchester United defender Phil Neville - tweeting in his guise as someone called @fizzer18 - announced that the 19-year-old had shown enough in a central midfield role in the 2-0 win to be placed in the same category as "a young Roy Keane."

Sir Alex Ferguson will greet this more favourably than Jones being likened to an old Roy Keane after Manchester United's manager had his ears singed by the most unflattering of personal verdicts from his one-time voice on the pitch in a searing morning newspaper interview.

Keane was a player and captain of unquestionable greatness, but he joins an ever-lengthening list as prominent figures within football grapple with the task of finding a pigeonhole for the prodigiously talented youngster Ferguson lifted from Blackburn Rovers for a bargain £16m in the summer.

Manchester United's Phil Jones.

Jones is a young and talented player with a huge future in the game. Photo - Getty Images

England coach Fabio Capello, a stranger to over-statement and exaggeration, suggested Jones may eventually be only the third player of such versatility, outstandingly and equally gifted in central defence and midfield, that he has worked with. The others? The great Italian Franco Baresi and Real Madrid legend Fernando Hierro.

The other half of the Neville brothers, Gary, says: "Jones has a touch of Bryan Robson or Roy Keane." Wolves boss Mick McCarthy's choice was framed by his Republic of Ireland heritage as he lined up Jones alongside Paul McGrath.

And the greatest compliment of all came when United's 1968 European Cup winner and still avid Old Trafford observer Pat Crerand said: "If you talk to Sir Bobby Charlton, Phil Jones reminds him of Duncan Edwards with his power and build."

So there you have it - just about the identikit Old Trafford superstar with the picture assembled from the pieces and personality of United's legendary names.

Greatness can never be judged at Loftus Road in a routine victory, but the pace and power shown by Jones in west London was further confirmation that, despite the rough edges that have been all too obvious in United's Premier League campaign and their Champions League failure, this is one of the game's gems just waiting to be fully polished.

In time the comparisons will stop and Jones will not be the "new" anyone and simply become, well, the first Phil Jones, a young man superbly developed at Blackburn Rovers and taken on to the next stage of his career by Manchester United.

After United slipped out of Europe's elite competition, it has become even more obvious that Ferguson must address a lack of A-List quality in central midfield - but you can guarantee Jones will happily shoulder the burden until reinforcements arrive.

He, along with Michael Carrick, dominated the central areas of Loftus Road on Sunday. The difference came when Carrick added to Wayne Rooney's header in 52 seconds by scoring his first United goal in 70 appearances, while Jones was frustrated by Radek Cerny's brave block in the first half and struck the woodwork in the second.

Michael Carrick of Manchester United

Carrick's rare goal was his first for almost two years. Photo - Reuters

Jones is a work in progress. In defence his positions and angles can go awry, while a natural sense of adventure - allied to great self-confidence - can leave United exposed.

He will face far greater tests than those presented by QPR, who were game but limited and are now straying into dangerous territory at the wrong end of the Premier League. But he is coping admirably with a steep trajectory of his education.

United's season can hardly be described as being in crisis after a win that returned them to the top of the league, albeit briefly, but there can be no disguising the blow that their Champions League exit inflicted upon the club's pride and their season.

They have recovered with six points from two games they would expect to win, while Ferguson falls back on old beliefs that his side will come on stronger after the turn of the year.

And it is certain he will lean heavily on the powerful frame of Jones. For now in central midfield with Darren Fletcher and Anderson absent and, you suspect, in defence with Nemanja Vidic out for the season.

Rio Ferdinand and Jonny Evans, plus the increasingly susceptible Patrice Evra, looked vulnerable under what occasional pressure QPR applied and pretty much all the good judges named above believe Jones will eventually settle as a defender.

This was a highly satisfactory win for United and continued what will be a slow rebuilding of fractured confidence after the trauma of Basel - as well as timely reminder to their rivals as they glance at the league table.

Since the humiliation of the 6-1 home defeat to Manchester City, United have won six league games out of seven.

Ferguson brought stability by naming an unchanged side, saw Carrick show the positive side of his talent when too often he is subdued, as well as watching Rooney provide proof that he must never be restricted to midfield unless in an emergency or a last resort.

The first 45 minutes brought moments of anxiety but the second half was a stroll to three points, a late wasted chance for QPR substitute DJ Campbell apart. It was as close to routine as it comes.

QPR boss Neil Warnock has a side of tenacity and honesty, but he will look to the January transfer window to solve a problem that has brought only one league win at home, against Chelsea, this season.

United's priorities lie at the other end of the Premier League and Jones will, literally, be central to those ambitions.


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  • Comment number 1.

    hopefully "publad" Arsenal fan is online as we speak - last week after Chelsea defeat we were written off - hopefully he can look fwd (like the rest of us) to ANOTHER trophyless season with Wengers wretches - AC Milan will ensure European interest ceases + even Liverpool might ensure no European football next season (lol)

  • Comment number 2.

    To Man Utd fans. Are all the comparisons being made between Phil Jones and past Man Utd stars unfair? Is it not time we simply judged a young player on his own merits?

    Where do you see his eventual position?

    And let me know what you think about your title chances?

    Let's not leave QPR out either. Plenty of spirit today but the league position is causing some concern. Are you confident you will survive and where should Neil Warnock strengthen in January?

    All thoughts, as ever, welcome. Phil.

  • Comment number 3.

    I think that man united had a decent result today but their squad is mainly players past their prime and new young players who will be very good in a couple of seasons. Phil Jones looks like he will turn into an amazing player but he is already very decent. I just hope that all the pressure of expectation doesn't ruin that potential.

    P.S. I am trying to recreatethe old 606 at

  • Comment number 4.

    Sorry wrong link, I meant

  • Comment number 5.

    They were playing QPR.

  • Comment number 6.

    To say that Man United have been below par for a good deal of the season so far, its quite impressive that they were top of the table for a brief time this afternoon. As an observer of footballing history I can't help thinking back to their tendency to really kick on after christmas.

    Phil Jones needs to be left alone to just develop his game though. Comparing him to Keane, Robson, Beckenbauer or Pele is only going to heap pressure on to him, and he can do without that. Heck, England can do without it as well because he is clearly going to be around the squad for a long time.

  • Comment number 7.

    At the start of the season I wondered why John O Shea was let leave Man U - being such a versatile player. But watching Phil Jones this season explains everything. And today he made Joey Barton (who is a great player)look very ordinary. Shrewd Fergie knows he will be the backbone of the team for the next 10 years - and with other youngster beginning to bloom Man U will be there or there abouts for a ong time to come

  • Comment number 8.

    I used to be compared to a young Roy Keane, then i took an arrow to the knee.

  • Comment number 9.

    I see Phil Jones week in week out for Manchester United and feel Blackburn were robbed. How did he cost 16 million pounds? He may be work in progress but his contribution to the team is simply immeasurable. His marauding runs in the opposition half sets him apart from other younger players, coupled with an assured display in defence. Great signing.. I never thought he'd slip into the first team like he's done. Jones looks like he was made for Manchester United.

  • Comment number 10.

    As ever, we all jump to these wildly extreme comparisons and heap untold unnecessary pressure on all of our young players. Jones is undoubtedly a hugely talented boy, but he has his rough edges, and his defensive performances this year have had their moments. I would even go as far to say that I think Chris Smalling is a more accomplished defender.

    As a midfielder, I don't think Jones has come close to impressing yet, which is hardly surprising. He has great ability, but United's midfield is a work in progress and I don't believe anyone is sure if he even belongs there. Frankly, if United find a midfielder in the January window, I think he'll go back to claim his role as a defender.

    Comparisons with Keane, Robson, Edwards, and the like are just silly at this stage of his young career. Let the boy play. If he's that good, he'll prove himself. If not, then it's a moot point.


    United's win was of the variety where they do just enough to beat the weaker teams in the League. However, watching City dispose of Arsenal, suggests to me that they don't have enough firepower to compete with Mancini's side. Arsenal showed the same old frailties today against the power teams and with Wenger bleating to the media about "bad refereeing" again, it's obvious that lessons don't get learned too fast at The Emirates.

  • Comment number 11.

    The one player Phil Jones really reminds me of is Franz Beckenbauer for his endeavour striding out of defence with purpose. He maybe doesn't quite have the technique as of yet.. but if he keeps progressing the way he has been doing then imagining him at 21 is a scary prospect.

    All young players now will always have comparisons, Messi/Maradona is the prime example. I even remember a young Ryan Giggs being likened to George Best and look how different their careers turned out at Old Trafford! Every player is different and sometimes too much can be read into comparisons. The great thing about P.Jones is that he is doing so many things the right way that are bringing about these comparisons. For example his influence on matches and his team-mates might be similar to that of Roy Keane but he went though the first matches without even conceding a foul.. and if I'm not mistaken this afternoon was his first booking of the season.. very unlike Roy Keane in that respect. I think Phil has the hunger, desire and ability to play they game he wants and ultimately in 15 years a 19 year old breaking through with similar attributes will be considered the next Phil Jones!

  • Comment number 12.


    Good post, but I'm not sure that we should be comparing Phil Jones to anyone else. I never saw Duncan Edwards in the flesh, but have seen limited bits of footage, so I can't say whether he is similar, other than his physique. Sir Bob is in a far better position to comment.

    For me, he is nobody else but Phil Jones. He is not Robson, he is not Keane. You can see the sense of self-belief and self-confidence in the lad to warrant no comparison. He is his own man, and that's amazing for someone of his age.

    I hope that his role is not limited to defence in the immediate future. As you point out, his positional sense has let him down on occasion, and he has also given the ball away too cheaply on forays forward - I think on one occasion it led to a goal for the opposition when he was trying to play a 1-2 with Rooney.

    Maybe later on in his career, when he has gained more experience, he will move back and prove to be fantastic. But let him roam for now, because he seems to frighten the opposition when he charges forward and he covers the ground amazingly well when stifling opposition attacks, naughtily or not.

    As for the title, I still have my doubts about Mancini and City. The team are more than capable of winning it, but I wonder whether they will retreat into their shell tactically, and play more defensively if they are in a similar position come March. I believe that the only rivals for the title this year are Spurs. Again, a team more than capable of winning it, but much depends on Redknapp's trial in January and what happens to Defoe, and other players coming in/out.

    Final word on ManU. I have seen enough in the last couple of games to suggest certain players are getting back to their best (Rooney, Valencia, Carrick etc). Most importantly, they and Fergie have been there before. I believe that they will be there again.

  • Comment number 13.

    #1 - don't bank on it, they're all just mouth.

  • Comment number 14.

    Number 5. boils
    They were playing QPR.
    The same QPR that beat Chelsea, albeit with 9 men, and troubled Manchester City?

  • Comment number 15.

    To be honest im tired of all the comparisons young players get these days im tired of reading another "the next (feel free to add any decent retired pro)"

    To be honest ive been watching alot of Jones this season and havnt been blown away by hisperformances by anymeans, at the start of the season he featured at right back and centre back and positionally looked all over the place, it is no coincedence this is the period when United were conceding alot of goals.

    The game that stood out to me was against Chelsea when a distinctly average Torres could of had more than a hatrick that game when Jones featured at the back a similar situation occured against Norwich.

    Due to injuries and or poor personel in the middle of the park for United he got shifted into a holding midfield roll and has looked ok when he bombs forward, but again building attacks and positionaly he has alot to learn

    Agin i think this is a case of a young English player getting games looking ok and the media getting a bit carried away

  • Comment number 16.

    There are lots of potentially great players in the Premier League, way too much fuss is being made about Jones. He's very good, so let's see how he develops and stop all this nonsense comparing him with someone like Franco Baresi. Way over the top there, and Capello wasn't suggesting Jones will definitely become as good. Hope he fulfils his potential though.

  • Comment number 17.

    It's unfair to burden Jones with such hype and linking him to greats of the game. There will come a time when he hits a rough patch of form, and no doubt there will be people queuing up to knock him.

    The experience of being in the middle of the park will help him out, but his future is in the centre of defence long-term. Once he matures, he'll learn to temper that desire to break forward out of defence, and will be a good player for the club.

    I don't want to see all the hype of the player, let's just let him develop and judge him on each game he plays. And let's not talk up his England chances, eh?

  • Comment number 18.

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

  • Comment number 19.

    Let him grow. He is still completely raw talent. He undoubtably shows great leadership skills; one of the reasons why SAF brought him to United. He has another 15 years at Old Trafford for sure, as its unlikely he is going to go anywhere. Potential England and United skipper for the future - him and Smalling at CB for England for me.

    As for the title, everyone knows that United get stronger as the season moves into the second half. Been there before, won it before really does make a difference - look what happened to Liverpool a couple of years back. City certainly have the squad, but the nouse? Maybe not. Never write of United, or Chelsea for that matter. And if Harry adds to an already superb squad in January, Spurs will be right up there.

    For me, its just too hard for Arsenal and Liverpool this year. More quality and depth needed.

  • Comment number 20.

    Although Jones is very good going forward I think he should be used as a centre back but in the way Thomas Vermaelen plays; he can make runs forward but i don't think he has the kind of creativity or finesse that United need in Central midfield at the moment.

  • Comment number 21.

    He's got potential, but let's please not get carried away! Yes he's smart and not afraid of the ball.

    But, when he gets his game in defence, his positioning is far from good. I remember one incident particularly that occurred during the Swansea game, Scott Sinclair missed a sitter, but he only got the chance because Jones failed to follow the run. But he's young and has a lot to learn.

    For now, keep him as a midfielder as United are short there, and his poor positional wont cost us.

  • Comment number 22.

    I think Jones needs to be told his position and that if SAF keeps changing his position he may be a jack of all trades and master of none. All the above comments about over-pressuring him are true let the lad focus on his football develop as he needs to develop and not pressure him into become the next so and so

  • Comment number 23.

    Looks a great player and a promising prospect - never seen Duncan E -but Sir Boobys plaudits speak for themselves..... for me looks like a cross between Robbo and Keano.... here is hoping he does noto go back to defence, he has so much more to offer.....a legend in the making

  • Comment number 24.

    There are a few reasons why Jones has been impressive in midfield in the last few games (please bear in mind that he had a truly horrendous game against Liverpool in midfield and wasn't much better for England, although he was against Spain).

    Firstly, Carrick has been nothing short of brilliant since his return against Swansea. He defines the role of the person next to him, the best case of that is when he is paired with Anderson. Carrick sitting quite deep as a shield allows Anderson to do what he does best and that is be on the ball and running at the opposition without the worry of overexposing the defence. The same applies to Jones- Carrick's presence and defined role allows Jones to bomb forward when the time is right.

    Secondly, he does what we miss in Anderson/Cleverley and Fletcher of 2009 and that is runners from midfield. Often people cite that we lack creativity from midfield. That isn't true. What is the problem is that we don't play through the centre and rely heavily on our wingers, mainly Nani and Valencia. This is great when we have Welbeck or Hernandez on the pitch because they have presence and great movement and score headers. But sometimes this season our final ball hasn't been great (Young especially needs to step up again) and because we lack a playmaker through the centre (think of Scholes, Silva, Modric, Mata etc etc.), we sometimes look a bit devoid of ideas. What Anderson, Cleverley and Fletcher of 2009 do/did is that they ran beyond the ball, giving another option or doing "give and go's" to break through the opposition midfield. That is what Jones is doing right now and why it is effective.

    Having said that though, he is no attacker. His passing is limited and he isn't going to put away many chances (one on ones especially) which is why I believe we need another midfield like Carrick. Someone like Javi Martinez I think would suit us.

  • Comment number 25.

    Calm down, Phil.

    Jones is getting far too much attention and hype, far too early. Apart from his cavalier and exciting forays forward, he hasn't really stamped his defensive side into the United team yet in any of his performances. He hasn't been that great defensively. His game is mostly about defending, whether it be in midfield or defence. Getting too carried away with his attacking forays is the hype, when he was bought here for defensive reasons. So far, the defensive part of his game has question marks over it. But of course, its very early days.

  • Comment number 26.

    Undoubtedly a very fine player, but once again the public, especially the United fans are putting too much strain on the boy. My hope is it doesn't ruin an albeit fledgling but hugely promising career. He has it all; pace, power, balance and a quick thinking brain. Let him develop with the absence of all this hype and in a few years, judge where he stands in the game and then see if these comparisons are justified.

    Peace out.

  • Comment number 27.

    Completely agree with posts 10,15,17,19 & 21. Can we not just let a player develop in this country in his own good time without resorting to hype and exageration of how he's going to be a world beater when he's still only 19 and has yet to achieve anything substantial. Phil Jones is an excellent prospect but expecting anyone to match the achievements of players like Roy Keane, Franz Beckenbauer or Duncan Edwards is an enormous ask and places completely unneccesary pressure on a young players shoulders when there is enough pressure already playing for a big club like United.

    With young, talented English players there is always a lot of wishful thinking in some quarters that they will develop into players good enough to bring glory to the national team but, given that we've had many false dawns before, would it not make more sense not to build up too many hopes and expectations and let these players play with freedom and without the fear that has crippled english players in the past.

  • Comment number 28.

    "for a bargain £16m"

    bargain n

    1. A greater amount than 13 out of 20 Premier League teams have ever spent on a single player
    2. A very small sub-unit of the "not enough money" Ferguson has been given to spend by the Glazers
    3. More money than most teams in this country will ever see

    Etymology: origin unknown

  • Comment number 29.


    give it a rest will you, if there were more people like you there would be no journalists around. He's writing about Man United, who happen to be the biggest club in England in recent times if you hadn't noticed and more people are going to read about them than some game in League One.

    As for Phil Jones, he looks like he could become a spectacular player but it's too early to judge how good he will be. The second season in the big time can be the most difficult, certainly he has taken me and a few others by surprise this season with his power and desire in all positions, he can also play a bit as well. From defence he's like another attacker, his positioning is a bit off at times in midfield but he looks the type to learn quickly. A frightening prospect.

  • Comment number 30.


    He might've been bought to OT for defensive reasons.

    Or maybe Fergie spotted something else before he signed him or since?

    Without getting carried away, in midfield for club & country, he has tended to impress himself on the game. Doubtful if he has the ability to take a game by the scruff of its' neck & alter the course of it, but if you have a player who does, there is also the risk all your eggs reside in one basket.

    As Yugoslavia's captain said about Johnny Haynes, best #10 ever in England, at the 1962 World Cup:

    "Number 10 take corners;number 10 take free-kicks;number 10 take throw-ins. We put man on number 10. Is goodnight England?"

    Well, they didn't play us, but Brazil did just that in the quarter-finals & guess who won?

  • Comment number 31.

    Its way too each to discuss this. He has only been playing for United for now 4 months and is still only 19. Lets discuss this at the end of the season next summer once we see how well he has done in his first season at United overall.

    United must buy a world class midfielder and replacements for Vidic and Fletcher in January. Otherwise United's chances of winning the title will disappear and will not be able to keep up with the pace of City. Both United's midfield and defence has looked weak so far this season.

  • Comment number 32.

    Er No Phil, I think you are getting a bit carried away with this one!
    When we look back at his career twenty years from now I very much doubt that Phil Jones will be in the 'legendary' category.

  • Comment number 33.

    'He might've been bought to OT for defensive reasons.

    Or maybe Fergie spotted something else before he signed him or since?'

    In every game he has played, he has had a strong defensive responsibility, whether it be a holding role, box to box role, right back or centre back. Yes, he can attack from those positions but he still has been playing in defensive roles so far this season. So far, from the evidence, he was bought here for mostly defensive reasons, with the odd foray forward.

    He got taught a lesson against Pool and against Basle away, in terms of defending in midfield.

    Again, its early days, so apologies if i sound very harsh.

  • Comment number 34.


  • Comment number 35.

    Blackburn fan here. Believe me United did 'get a bargain'. Phil Jones started fulfilling his promise from his first kick in first team action against Chelsea for us. He was magnificent, keeping Drogba etc at bay, and rightly won man of the match. He hasn't looked back. Last season he was a rock, and you could pin many of Rovers defensive issues this season down to not being able to replace him.

    Such lofty comparisons as Franz Beckenbauer or Duncan Edwards may be a little premature, but there can be no doubt he is a future great. I for one will give him a round of applause when he returns to Ewood this season.

  • Comment number 36.

    As a United fan I don't think Phil Jones is anything like either Roy Keane or Bryan Robson. Of all the comparisons I would have to contend that he is most similar to Paul McGrath in style but certainly not in ability, not yet anyway.

    Like McGrath he is versatile enough to be a holding or box to box goalscoring midfielder, but also like McGrath he just doesn't quite seem to fit in midfield, something is slightly awry. McGraths's natural talent allowed him to be formidable in midfield but centre-half was definitely his most natural position and one that maybe only Baresi equalled him in in his day. This might be yet true of Jones but it is too early to tell.

    Not until Phil Jones puts a strike force of the same quality as Roberto Baggio and Pepe Signori in his pocket for 90 minutes, in 40 degrees heat, at a World Cup, with no knees of note, half cut and with Phil Baab standing beside him can he even begin to be compared to the great Paul McGrath.

  • Comment number 37.

    I hope Phil Jones never gets to read this article - pressure, expectation, hype building etc.

    He's done alright in midfield so far but nothing special, aside from some easy on the eye marauding runs.

    Phil (McNulty) - why must you write hyperbolic articles like these? Is it because he's a young English player? So typical of the British media hyping up English players. He's only been playing for United for about 4 months. He's been good but let's wait till the end of the season (or two) before heaping lavish praise and hype. I hope Jones lives up to all the hype but don't see the point of overhyping him at this moment in time.

  • Comment number 38.


    yet another trafford trundler being peddled as the best thing since sliced bread.

    change the record Phil.

  • Comment number 39.

    We can now add Phil Jones to list of future Man Utd greats such as Jonny Evans, Ben Foster, Wes Brown, John O'Shea etc

  • Comment number 40.

    Time will tell re. Duncan Edwards comparison. As the title, City win worried me. I had this game down as a draw with a resurgent Arsenal and scintillating RVP. But City 'guts' it out and retained their 2 pt lead suggesting they've the mettle to come straight back from the controversial Chelsea loss.

    But: I think Utd will beat City. Both clubs have a fairly easy Xmas/NY run in, so City should be top by 2 at festivities end.

    Mancini is emerging as a manager of increasing nouse. Frankly, I respect what he's doing. As a red, I fear for this season. Whether the summer signings will become genuine United legends, we're nowhere near that yet.

    Glad Hernandez is back.

  • Comment number 41.

    Phil Jones reminds me of a young Phil Jones.

  • Comment number 42.

    Just read 36. Maybe only Baresi equalled Paul McGrath. LOL!!!!!!

  • Comment number 43.

    I know whats going on here. The media especially Mcnulty build this Jones guy up stupidly between now and euro 2012.

    England then proceed to bottle it again at a major tournament and no doubt Jones will do nothing there and then once the stark reality hits these journo's that he isn't really all that, they'll turn.

    Anyway, moving on. Post 18, I totally agree with you about ITV being another mouthpiece for Utd. Oh how nice it was to see ITV literally in mourning after Basle won.

  • Comment number 44.


    yeah QPR - an average EPL team who beat an under performing Chelsea. Defining Jones on one game (after all why not after the Man City thrashing if his greatness is so apparent) is just journalistic nonsense. Jones has a future no doubts. But like Duncan Edwards and unlike Messi, at this age, he is unproven at the levels he's been touted at.

  • Comment number 45.

    #37. isn't it part of what we ALL do: try to identify the stars of the future? Personally, I don't see what's wrong with it. In cricket, sometimes you just have to see a single stroke (e.g a very young Michael Vaughan) to know a batsman's got something special. Jones was outstanding at the start of the season (as was Ashley Young) and, as I recall, the 'Harmony Hairspray' debate (is he or isn't he) had already started.

  • Comment number 46.

    How many times have I seen this before? Englishmen, their media (and leaders!) are so in need of success and symbols of success! They latch on to anything.

    Secondly, all that comparison do is to limit people. The can,& should be encouraged to, be the best.

    So, calm down Phil. Its not a good one when one gets to eat his own words(as u repeatedly have).

  • Comment number 47.


    Yeh, fair enough-youth means he will likely be more use going forward than defensively strong. I can't think of anyone since the young Bobby Moore who looked rock bloody solid at that age in defence.

    He has also had to contend with bedding a new keeper in(never simple)in front of an ever-changing back 4 with only two constants-which of Evans or Evra is going to stuff up first & present the opponents with something!

    Let's just say, for his age, and, due respect to Rovers, after a big step-up in standards and expectations, he has done pretty well thus far.

  • Comment number 48.

    He is strong like keano, that is where the comparism ends. . . . Let him develop and dont put too much pressure on him like you did to Theo Walcott and it backfired.

  • Comment number 49.

    I think people are being a bit harsh on Phil here. He has written a piece regarding the prospects of a young player. Not once does Phil compare them to anyone, he merely uses other peoples comparisons.

    For what its worth, I think Jones will go on to become a very good player, but maybe nothing more than that. i think his versatility is great now, but what happens when England get a few injuries to players? Suddenly we just shoe horn him in on the left side of midfield because he is "versatile" but we might be losing his abilities in different parts of the pitch. Same as has happened with Rooney and Gerrard at times.

    i don't think its fair to put thses comparisons on players, at the end of the day he is Phil Jones, Man Utd and England player. He's not Roy Keane, Bryan robson or Duncan Edwards. He never will be, he will make different life decisions to all these players and this will affect his career however he decides.

    But i don't think there is any doubting that he could go on to become a very important player for both Man United and England.

  • Comment number 50.

    good to see a northern player getting good reviews usually its the media eulogising southern players before they have learnt how to tie their boot ( in days when they 'ad boots, lad)laces.

    Jones is still young. There is still time to blossom his potential. Alternatively, there is still time to fancy a sister-in-law, or someone else's granny, or get drunk. drugged, or become a gamblehead. True sporting greatness is rightly recognised. Its not just about the particular sport, or in this case, just football.

  • Comment number 51.

    Here we go again, England needs another hero and Mr Jones is the answer. When are people going to realise that you can only judge people when they play against the best. At the minute he may be having a honeymoon start but that proves nothing, you can play him up all you want but time will tell and like the rest of best of British he will fall because of all the pressure media and others put on them.

    Rooney had his day and people realised he is nowhere near the player they hoped so they have moved on to someone else, he will be an average player at best as English players are nowhere near as technically gifted as foreign players, the last englishman to be gifted enough was Gazza and he was around 15 years ago.

  • Comment number 52.

    Inspired by TA6

    His wages and fee cost similar to players like vermaelan. How much did rafael evra fabio vidic smalling cleverly fletcher giggs wellbeck hernandez owen etc cost. Thats 11 players for around £35m. Less then aguero.

  • Comment number 53.


    I guess I am trying to counter Phil and co's hype about Jones by bringing in a more harsher view

    But like I said earlier, its early days, so yes he might be naive defensively in midfield at present but that may well be corrected over time.

  • Comment number 54.

    @52 - hafijur

    Way to leave out Berbatov, Rooney, Nani, Anderson, Ashley Young, Smalling, Carrick, Valencia, Ferdinand and De Gea. Makes your point so much more forceful.

    And you know you're big spenders if you resort to "well, at least we're not as bad as Man City".

  • Comment number 55.

    I think it is better we let Phil Jones become his own player, and he well eventually define himself as oppossed to being earmarked as a Roy Keane etc. He will eventually settle as a Centre Back, but its always handy knowing he can do that job in the middle of the park if needs be, you need versatile players like Jones in your squad.In the past in the various sides Fergie has built we have had the likes of Phil Neville and John O'Shea who played as full backs and in midfield, so its great to have that option. I also believe it is becoming more important at the top of the game that Centre Backs can play from the back, and carry the ball forward as opposed to lumping it forward, which suits Jones perfectly.
    As for our title chances, we might not be setting the league alight with respect to our performances and the football were playing (as we didn't last season) but were still very much in it and we do traditionally get stronger after christmas. We didnt play breathtaking football last season, but we still won the league.

  • Comment number 56.

    @ 54

    i was just writing the exact same list! What a way to leave out stats!!!

  • Comment number 57.

    i think its a bit ridiculous to bracket phil jones with these players, yes he has a great future, but if he was any club other than man u no one would care. bbc seem to write a blog every week about him, what about the other players coming through who are equally as good. I hope jones is as good as u say for england's sake, but in all honesty I dont think any England player will match that of Spain or the Dutch... U are just so far behind them, u look at Spains younsters they are leagues ahead.... seems like its a band wagon to try give England hope

  • Comment number 58.

    I have to be honest I think Phil Jones and a lot of English youngsters are being massively overrated at the moment.

    It seems that England and the English media are so desperate for new stars and a so-called new 'Golden Generation' that they are building players like Jones, Wilshere, Cleverley, Smalling, Rodwell, Welbeck and Sturridge into something they are not.

    I think it's an average group, personally. This is a group that were beaten 4-0 by the Germans in the 2009 U-21s and didn't even get out of the group in the 2011 U-21s. So give it a rest with the hype.

    Phil Jones with blogs like this and journalists such as Martin Samuel who make him out to be the next Beckenbauer or something are the worst examples of this. At the moment he is a centre half being played out of position in midfield. In the Champions League he and the Utd defence were found out - 2-0 up against Basle at home, ended up 3-3; Benfica, Jones scored an own goal and it finished up 2-2, all the pressure on the Basle away game and Utd crumbled, that was Utd out of the Champions League.

    And yet I saw plenty of commentators blaming De Gea after Basle, even though as a young talent he is proven- he's won the U-21 Euros and he won the Europa League with Atletico Madrid.

    Yet no one wants to criticise the English talent, so they blame the foreign keeper. It's just an example of the media agenda- star creation and then setting the platform for knocking these players when they don't live up to ludicrous expectations.

  • Comment number 59.

    @ 57

    I wouldn't say the spanish youngsters are leages ahead of our boys. We've played them at a couple of levels recently and while they undoubtedly have more quality I really sdon't think we're that far behind them.

    i think we have finally realised our coaching methods of kids is way behind them and we seem to be doing something about it, but obviously this will take time to show through in terms of more technically able players.

  • Comment number 60.


    I was going to make a list about Pool's transfers in the last two decades but i decided against it, as its irrelevant to this topic...

  • Comment number 61.

    Mr Mcnulty - United fan here....

    I hate to get too far in front of ourselves when the boy is only 19....

    But I can't remember such excitement about an English talent since Rooney broke through at Euro 2004.....

    I watched the match against Villa, Basle and today at Q.P.R and in my opinion although we lost in Basle he was man of the match in all three matches!!!!

    He is just so powerful, fast, strong I cannot comment on great players of the past such as Bobby Charlton touchingly said Duncan Edwards.... What I can say is Roy Keane as a player was my hero. And today watching Phil Jones it just felt like the void that Keane left was slowly being replaced...

    No way is Jones a Keane/Robson yet but what he showed today is that he has the hunger, drive and commitment to become just as if not better than both....

    Future England/Manchester United captain no doubt, I just hope he stays fit and of course concentrates thoroughly on his football.. Please take note Jones of how Giggs has managed his footballing Career and become all you can be for Club and Country!!!

  • Comment number 62.

    Inspired by TA6

    We buy and sell unlike some clubs. We always have a lot of cheap players in the squad to make up for the big signing. We sell players like beckham ronaldo etc for money unlike some clubs.

    Man utd could buy 10 berbatov £30.75m record signing and have 11 of them on the pitch on top of the current squad and our net spend would still be less then city. They spent £309m more then man utd since 1992 and even in the 90's teams like liverpool arsenal chelsea newcastle outspent us every year apart from 2.

    We just have SAF who is to good and sees what other managers don't.

    Refs and linesmen hate us another perfectly good goal disallowed when 1 yd for wellbeck hernandez against newcastle very close but is given offside while newcastle score from there only shot from the penalty spot given for free.

    If man utd spent half of what city did on strikers we could have bought villa or pato or someone who can be lethal and even then we would have spent a lot less then city or chelsea on strikers.

  • Comment number 63.

    I just dont undestand all these phil mcnulty bashing. He said "Greatness can never be judged at
    Loftus Road in a routine victory". And yet everyone is going on about him hyping a player.

  • Comment number 64.

    Last year's England under 17 lot did a good job I thought

  • Comment number 65.

    I think the only excuse to hype a player up is when he's scoring for fun already racking up goals in the tens figures.

    Why no mention of Van Persie (again) or D Ba?

    But really, never ever wise to devote whole public blogs to players before a seasons end! Let alone one ending with an International tourno.

  • Comment number 66.

    Absolutely typical of the English to praise a mediocre pro like Jones, and to turn him in to a Messiah.

    Phil's just a really average player, and you wouldn't be hard pressed to find someone of his ilk turning out for ''The Frog and Ferret'' on a Sunday morning.

    If you can free yourselves from at least one of the slimy tentacles of the Sky Sports octopus, then you'll be appreciating the beautiful game in a more wholesome manner.


  • Comment number 67.

    He is doing really well for his age but will never be a great player as his first touch isn't that of a great player.

    He is in the spotlight because SAF is protecting the Glazers by bringing on the kids as he hasn't got too much of the Glazers dosh to spend although he won't admit it, thats what this is really all about.

    SAF has got away with it for a few years but his luck ran out against Basel.

  • Comment number 68.


    Its more the 'yet another article that has included Phil Jones by Phil McNulty'.

    Too much spotlight on young English players.

  • Comment number 69.


    He spent plenty in the summer but oddly, didn't spend on the central midfield.

    'He is in the spotlight because SAF is protecting the Glazers by bringing on the kids'

    So Fergie didn't get the transfer money for Phil Jones from the Glazers?

  • Comment number 70.

    Jones is a prospect, but to be lauding him as one of the 'potential' greats at the moment is laughable, much like when people were calling Rooney the white Pele.

    At the moment he's your a-typical great English player, all heart and passion, but still lacking in technique and cunning. When he plays I'm actually reminded of Walcott. The way he has that unbridled will to steam on but then doesn't know what to do when he gets there.

  • Comment number 71.

    Demba Ba:

    37 in 97 games in Germany, yet 18 in 27 in the EasyPL. :rollseyes: and :contortsface: in an exaggerated fashion.

    Grant Holt:

    He scores for fun in the EasyPL, yet never even had such a great goals-per-game ratio in League 2 or the Conference!


  • Comment number 72.


    I know, I thought it was laugh out loudable to compare anyone to Paul McGrath too but I allowed myself the folly to provide a frame of reference,

  • Comment number 73.

    As a United fan I love it when Phil blogs about United and all the in-patients are allowed to use the communal computer for half an hour. Out come the usual paranoid abus stating everything from the ridiculous to the libellous...BBC and ITV loving United, superb!!

    let's face it, If Jones played for any other team he would the man to take England to the Euro final and the next world cup just like the English world class stars of the past such as..erm..err, just what does a player have to do to be world class in this bitter little country? I mean, obviously everyone on here obviously knows far more than Sir Bobby Charlton, Fabio Capello and other luminaries of the game whose opinion I would much rather heed as Phil Mcnulty did.

  • Comment number 74.

    @ 60

    your quite right, It is irrelevant. But i don't actually understand why you even thought about it?!

    My response was to a poster who was clearly mocking Man City by suggesting that United spent far less than them to build a team by leaving out Man Utd's most expensive signings.

    Don't get me wrong, I would prefer to see man Utd buying £30m players with the money earned by winning trophies as opposed to seeing Man City buying them because of a sugar daddy, but lets not leave out facts to make our own argument seem correct!

  • Comment number 75.

    At least Paul McGrath is probably better than Baresi at drinking.

  • Comment number 76.

    52. At 21:41 18th Dec 2011, hafijur wrote:

    How much did rafael evra fabio vidic smalling cleverly fletcher giggs wellbeck hernandez owen etc cost. Thats 11 players for around £35m. Less then aguero.

    Yeah, but Kun Agüero is twice as good as all of those 9 players put together.

    I wouldn't even pay £3.50 for half of those pub-standard pros; only Chicharito and Vidic are decent.

  • Comment number 77.

    I guess all these people who abuse Phil's blogs about great English prospects don't see what the German press, Spanish press, French press say about their future prospects.

    I bet the Spanish press wrote that Navas had the world at his feet 5 years ago and it never really materialized, I bet the same was said in the German press when Podolski broke through and look what happened there!!!!

    So let's give Phil credit for what he does because he can't be doing such a bad job because you read his blogs all the time and comment on them :)....

    Sometimes i agree with what Phil writes sometimes I don't but I always enjoy his insights!!


  • Comment number 78.


    17m is not a bank breaker. spending has been low at united for a few years thats why they are out of CL and CC. why is it so low? ask them american blokes. saf seems happy to go along with it, perhaps its because he is getting millions from the glazers every year.

  • Comment number 79.

    I've read this article 5 times now and it still makes no sense. Go back to school or have someone proof read it before you post it. If you get paid for writing, write properly.

  • Comment number 80.

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

  • Comment number 81.


    Like I said, United spent a lot of money 2011. So not just the Jones transfer I was referring to.

    For the rest of your post, its the usual 'i'm in the know and know what goes on behind closed a tabloid journo'

    But thanks anyway.

  • Comment number 82.


    Yes agree. But he will also have to perform on the International stage to be accurately judged to be a 'great'.

    He has time though, lots of time as of now. Any news on Berbatov being brought back to regular duty?

  • Comment number 83.

    I think this thread deserves to be 'Soul Patch'-fied now....

  • Comment number 84.

    71.At 22:24 18th Dec 2011, The_soul_patch_of_David_Villa wrote:
    Demba Ba:

    37 in 97 games in Germany, yet 18 in 27 in the EasyPL. :rollseyes: and :contortsface: in an exaggerated fashion.

    Grant Holt:

    He scores for fun in the EasyPL, yet never even had such a great goals-per-game ratio in League 2 or the Conference!



    Diego forlan scored how many in the "easy" PL??

    and then the year after went on to win the Golden Boot award in the uncompetitive La Liga.

    :patstummyandrubsheadatthesametime (just because i can!)

  • Comment number 85.

    @soul patch you really need to get that tourettes looked at now. It's getting worse

  • Comment number 86.

    EPL is all physique, everyone knows this. All the major players have to be able to be able to put up a wrestling match, unless the team based around them is good enough to distract swarming defenders like ManC.

    Mention for the big B Ruiz, what a goal yesterday =]

  • Comment number 87.

    Comparing him to other gives added pressure? Really, have no one noticed he is at the one of the biggest sporting teams in the world, I am sure a comparison to Roy Keane is the last thing on his mind.

    From what I have seen of him I think he looks a very good player in the making, by far United's most consistent performer this season. I prefer him in midfield to defence as his runs have created problems whilst not leaving United short at the back. Just a shame he the final finish isn't there yet but I don't think it will be long.

    I think what makes him stand out is his attitude and his desire, I am assuming he wasn't a United fan prior to joining the club but his passion to do well for the team is clear. To say he could turn into a 'legend' is very premature but certainly could become a great player.

    Today was a very odd game, it was almost like a training ground kickabout, and no atmosphere from the home fans. QPR gave United far too much time on the ball, especially the Carrick goal. Mind due I don't think any United fan would of expected that from Carrick, the QPR defence probably assumed he would do a misplaced pass to Rooney or Nani. United are doing what they have to do at the moment to stay in touch with City, which will always add pressure when City play. At the start of the season I didn't really expect much from United anyway, but again they are at the top of the table. Going out of the champions league was one of those things that happens (you can't do it every year!). City realistically cannot go on this run all season, and I think cracks will start to show at some point. No matter what people, experience in fighting for titles does matter for something. There isn't many of the players at City who have been close to fighting for a league title, and the pressure might be to hot to handle, as many teams have shown in the past. And before anyone starts quoting me off players. Balotelli was mainly a sub a Inter, Silva again may have a World Cup and Euro medal but did he have much involvement in those tournaments. I think Yaya at Barcelona is the only one.

  • Comment number 88.

    I think Phi Jones is a player that has a lot to learn about defending but that can only come through experience and learning from the coachs and other players and he will get that the chance to do that surrounded by so many great players at united. He will learn and is learning all the time. Be patient people he will get there

  • Comment number 89.

    2 "continued what will be a slow rebuilding of fractured confidence after the trauma of Basel"


    you couldn't make it up - except that you have.

    United have looked increasingly in control in the last couple of months, particularly in the execution of their tactics. people like you obviously need to focus on specific events as defining your rolling narrative of the season. in the case of your United narrative, it is as ever built on pretty sandy foundations. United are the league champions, and they are the team to beat. anyway pretending otherwise is not to be trusted and cannot be taken seriously in my opinion.

    for the record, instead of the over-riding portrayal of United's CL exit being that it proves they aren't good enough, it should simply be that it was a big surprise that they fluffed the group. 6 wins out of 7 in the league mean that United are shaping up very nicely, and there's every chance that they will be in with a great chance of making yet another challenge for the title. obviously we're only 16 games into the competition at the moment so it's far too early to get excited about going top of the league, albeit citeh managed to win anyway. the big worry for United is not the hackneyed nonsense about the midfield being weak, or about the defence being supposedly vulnerable. it's actually that the goals aren't flowing. with good finishing today that display at QPR would've been sensational.

  • Comment number 90.

    United's win was of the variety where they do just enough to beat the weaker teams in the League. However, watching City dispose of Arsenal, suggests to me that they don't have enough firepower to compete with Mancini's side. Arsenal showed the same old frailties today against the power teams and with Wenger bleating to the media about "bad refereeing" again, it's obvious that lessons don't get learned too fast at The Emirates.
    Ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha ha
    Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha. Ha ha ha
    Ha ha ha ha ha

  • Comment number 91.

    He certainly looks assured with good all round technique and an ability to get box to box. It is his age which has got people talking, he seems to have a very positive, professional and mature attitude that is exceptional for one so young. Maybe that is why he is being compared to the likes of Duncan Edwards although such comparisons will not help him. As others have said let him progress in his own time and be himself.

    A neat comparison to the utter disgrace that is Tevez on the day that he is poking fun at Man City whilst still collecting £200k a week or so from them for being gleefully AWOL.

  • Comment number 92.

    Phil Jones could bridge the gap between utd and barca et al.

    Against QPR he showed that he is already world class.

  • Comment number 93.

    @ 87

    I think what you say is right in regards to the players that City have and the fact that they have won very few league trophies between them, but they all have experience of playing at the highest level. They also have a squad with real quality and excellent depth.

    I personally think they will be too strong for United. My tip is for City to win the league. But I hope United and Tottenham make it as hard as possible. I think that Chelsea, Liverpool and Arsenal will battle it out for the final european places.

    also, in regards to the current run that City are on, its not about the games you lose, its the one's you SHOULD lose, but turn into victories. Also, when you have a setback its dependant on dealing with it as quickly as possible!

  • Comment number 94.

    Remember when Ryan Giggs was the next George Best? Of course nobody would ever describe him as such now... but plenty coming through the youth system there have been described as the next Ryan (Kieron Richardson for instance!)

    I think in 5 years time nobody will be comparing Jones to anyone else as he is showing such promise... but for me that is as a midfielder. United have lacked a quality defensive minded midfielder since Keane (Hargreaves would have been that if he was ever fit enough) and he fills a massive gap - would love to see him play alongside Cleverly.

    When looking defensively I prefer Smalling, granted I haven't watched as many games as their fans but he just seems a lot more capable at centre half than either Jones (positionally) or Evans (in every aspect). Saying that I could see the potential for years of United and England's defence being built around a Jones/Smalling partnership (when you consider their age, along with the Da Silva twins and the goalkeeper it is actually really scary if they keep them together!).

    I guess I see him now as a midfielder just because that is where they are weak.

    I have to say though, I'm surprised this is where you were today Phil, I would have thought the BBC would have sent you to watch the main game of the day at the team who are most likely to win the league this year against one of the form teams with the league's best player.

  • Comment number 95.

    Hope QPR play like that against City as they were lazy and useless and Warnocks tatics were non-league standard. Lets judge players on BBC blogs after playing against decent opposition.

  • Comment number 96.


    'Against QPR he showed that he is already world class.'

    So all hail Fuham's 'world class' 6-0 heros.

  • Comment number 97.

    'the QPR defence probably assumed he would do a MISPLACED pass to Rooney or Nani.'

    Carrick is quite a tidy passer, according to the pass completion stats but unimaginative too

  • Comment number 98.

    And seriously, did Garth Crooks watch the game today? To have Evra in his team is ridiculous, he was all over the place in the first half. He made the most tackles because QPR (rightly) thought he was weak and kept attacking down there!

    I have to say though it was an excellent performance from Carrick, I am usually critical and think he is over rated, but he was really good today (thought QPR's defence was shocking for his goal, I don't think I've ever laughed so much during a game as when I watched that goal!). I think he really benefits from having someone like Jones with (I know this is such a cliché) such a good engine on him along side him.

  • Comment number 99.


    When looking defensively I prefer Smalling, granted I haven't watched as many games as their fans but he just seems a lot more capable at centre half than either Jones (positionally) or Evans (in every aspect). Saying that I could see the potential for years of United and England's defence being built around a Jones/Smalling partnership (when you consider their age, along with the Da Silva twins and the goalkeeper it is actually really scary if they keep them together!).

    keep things in perspective, if they did all improve and kept together for 10 years they still wouldn't be as good as last seasons back 5. So whats the story?

  • Comment number 100.

    why are people so scared of bigging a player up...Oooo no.. he wont become the player we thought he would be.. so what...manage your own expectations and deal with the consequences...Those of us who get excited and have enjoyed Jones's fledgling career will at least have been lit up by hope. Neither should we be scared of putting too much pressure on a player..If Jones can handle the expectations of 76,000 fans inside Old Trafford, then I expect him not to be distracted by newspaper stories saying nice things about him. He is sorrounded by legends still at the club including Fergie who im sure wont have a problem keeping his feet on the ground.
    Once again, im fed up of people berating Mcnulty for writing about Man United.. As Phil routinely replies himself..he writes in relation to the games he attends. The BBC send him regularlly to United as they are the biggest, most successful club in England and are currently still competing for the top honours...


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