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Phil Jones may have a future in football, albeit outside Manchester United

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Phil Jones moved to Manchester United when the team was still managed by the legendary Scot Alex Ferguson. Then the center back predicted a bright future, especially since Phil really had all the necessary qualities for a bright career.

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On 3 January 2022, Phil Jones made his first appearance in a Manchester United shirt in over 700 days away. The Red Devils lost at Old Trafford to Wolverhampton (0:1), and this was a disappointment for the team’s loyal fans. However, the appearance of Jones on the field, of course, pleased both the player himself and those who sympathize with his game. Before that, the last time Phil was announced on the field for the Manchester United first team in an official match was already on February 26, 2020, when the Mancunians defeated Tranmere 6-0 away in the FA Cup.

When Jones suffered knee problems, many English fans thought they would never see the defender at a serious level again. At best, skeptics believed that Phil would return to play at Championship level or even a lower division, and at worst, that he would end his career altogether. Perhaps something like this would have happened in the end, but at Manchester United there was a personnel crisis in the defensive line, and Ralph Rangnik had to throw Jones into battle for the match with the “wolves”. The coach took a serious risk, but the center back repaid his trust with a good game – many even agreed that Jones played as if these two years of absence had never happened.

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Against Wolverhampton, Rangnick’s team performed unsuccessfully, if not sadly, and therefore fully deserved the defeat. However, against the backdrop of apathetic partners, Phil Jones really looked good. He read the game perfectly, made several well-timed interceptions of the ball at the goal of David De Gea, and in general he looked in a team where there was a clear crisis with the quality of defensive actions, one of the best. In particular, the visual impressions are confirmed by the numbers: Phil won 10 out of 15 duels (67%), gave 49 accurate passes out of 52 (94%), made 8 interceptions and 12 tackles of the ball.

Experienced fans know that it is never possible to judge the quality of a football player by one match. At one time, Axel Tuanzebe was already predicted the glory of Rio Ferdinand, when the young back managed to completely remove Kylian Mbappe from the game in a duel with Paris Saint-Germain in the Champions League. Something similar sounded from the lips of the “experts” and in favor of the version that it is high time for Scott McTominay to be given the captaincy at Manchester United, because he is supposedly one of the few who gives himself to the game in every match, thus reminiscent of the legendary Roy Keane. However, as soon as McTominay failed the match with that Wolverhampton, instead of praise, only curses immediately began to sound in his address.

Be that as it may, the very fact of Jones’ return to big football is already a kind of small victory for the defender. The most difficult stage is now behind Phil now, and it’s time for him to start enjoying football again. Perhaps not at Manchester United, if they consider Jones to be used material, but in a less ambitious team, but Phil has talent and character that simply must be in demand at the level of the English Premier League.

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