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Manchester United’s £20 Million acquisitions of Blackburn Rovers defender Phil Jones is seen as a real ‘coup’ for Sir Alex Ferguson. Meanwhile, the partnership at England Youth International level with Chris Smalling looks ever promising. Our expert Frank Onyebu explains all…

  Report By: Frank Onyebu, 11:30pm

When United finally sealed the signing of Phil Jones from Blackburn Rovers, eyebrows were raised, pundits and analysts exchanged views and most especially Sir Alex Ferguson had completed the most expensive transfer gamble on British talent in the last few years. Sir Alex has in the past splashed the cash on stars such as; Wayne Rooney, Rio Ferdinand, Michael Carrick and many others, but Rooney is the only Manchester United player below the age of 20 to have ever to cost above £20 Million, in detail he cost £25.6 Million. 

Wayne was a special case as he had displayed wonderful talent at such a young age, in contrast to Jones, Wayne had notched up 67 games for Everton scoring 15 goals in the process before his transfer which is almost double the 35 games Jones has for Blackburn. Today Wayne Rooney is undeniably the best number 10 in England and probably in the world. Sources at United, revealed that Jones was a signing SAF wanted to acquire next season but his hands were tied when Liverpool amongst other top clubs had presented bids for the bright England prospect. 

On this note, I have taken my time to analyse what the youngster would bring to United, where the standards know no flaws. Jones can play at either CB or DMF, also at WB. Despite being regarded as a centre-back, Jones actually spent the majority of the 2010/2011 Premier League season as a defensive-midfielder for Blackburn, in his 24 starts for the club 18 starts were made as a midfielder while only 6 starts were made as a centre-back. 

The 19-year-old’s long-term position is still expected to be centre-back, but this versatility should serve both him and the club well in the near-term future. With Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Chris Smalling at the club, regular time in defence may be tough to come by at the moment. However, time is on the side of the youngster and he may be able to still further his development by providing some bite in the midfield for United. 

At United, Jones wouldn’t be a starter with the Rio/Vidic combination one of the best in European football – but he would be learning from the best, he would get the footballing education from the best in the business and with this he could be just the hard tackler United have been looking for in Owen Hargreaves and Roy Keane, he could be the destroyer that we have lacked for sometime now. 

So, how long until Jones breaks into the squad you ask ?… Well, Rio is injury prone. He’ll probably miss chunks of matches and Chris Smalling has already proved to be an excellent back up for him. He’s shown to me already that he’ll be animportant player for us in the future, but when Rio is missing right now, I’m comfortable with Smalling slotting in. They will be our Carling Cup and FA Cup partnership and the weak matches of the Champions League. 

They will gel, they’ll be like Rio and Vidic would have been if they were kids knocking about in the junior teams. Their young partnership will gradually blossom for England U-21’s, and then on to the full national team, and they will gradually phase through to our first team as regulars as replacements for Ferdinand and Vidic. It takes a real football lover to understand what Ferguson is doing here, and I for one thinkhe’s made a great move. 

He’s spotted Jones, a 19-year-old who plays like someone five or six years older than that and looked farther from the present day saw the future and snappedthe youngster. But for £20 Million ? – Well get this: He snapped up Smalling last year for a reported £10 to £12 Million. Same questions at that time: Too much money ?… But I reckon that in less than five years time, we’ll be looking at the Smalling/Jones partnership costing just £30 Million, and praising the possibly departed Sir Alex Ferguson for giving us England’s best defensive partnership for the next decade. 

It would the best of bargain buys. £7 Million cheaper than the cost of the Rio/Vidic combination. We’ll be set until 2021 at the back. Did you see how Smalling complemented Jones at the matchagainst Spain ? – I don’t know how to express my delight at the future of Manchester United, but I guarantee that for the next ten seasons at least we are 100% good to go at the back. We are guaranteed at the back with pairing of the English men.
THE future at the back: Christopher Smalling and Philip Jones…

I watched few Blackburn matches in which Phil Jones featured in, like matches between Blackburn and Chelsea where Jones was given his debut. He was handed the task of snuffing diving Didier Drogba out and this he did beyond reasonable doubt, making three world class tackles in 30 seconds, the Blackburn faithful went crazy with his displays and he was handed the man-of-the match award. 

Naturally, I also watched the match against us. He and Christopher Samba combined to nullify the threat of the ever-hungry United forward line of Javier Hernandez and Rooney, he made a terrific block to deny Ryan Giggs a certain goal in the 60th minute.. I also watched the recent U-21 game v’s Spain where he showed calmness, composure on the ball when called upon and I have to say he is one top signing. 

For some one his age, his breathtaking displays prove just why he is the man for United. He is quick, very strong in the air despite his height (1.80m 5ft 11in), sound positionally, and having leadership qualities that have led some (such as ‘Arry Redknapp, Stuart Pearce), to audaciously predict him to be the future captain of England. 

It is no secret that in today’s game, attacks are normally initiated by the defenders who have a huge role of launching forward passes after engaging in tackles. As a defensive-minded-midfielder, Jones completed 330 passes this season out of an attempted 527 (63%). As a centre-back, he completed 107 passes this season out of an attempted 171 (also 63%). While you would actually like this completion percentage to be higher for a player that plays in such a deep position on the pitch, it can anticipated to be higher while playing for Manchester United.

This is because Blackburn played in such a direct style – especially in the first half of the season under former manager ‘Big Sam’ Allardyce. At United, If playing in the midfield he would be tasked with job of breaking up attacks and releasing short range passes to the likes of Carrick, Luis Nani and other forward players and stats reveal that Jones short range passing is quite tidy compared to his long range passing.

It is no news that Darron Gibbo, John O’Shea and Wes Brown have all been linked with exits from Old Trafford to the Stadium Of Light for about £12 Million combined. I really feel Gibson is really undervalued at £5 Million, but I’ll have to affix this to the devaluation by United fans through Twitter and matchday sighs when his name is called out of the teamsheet. But you shouldn’t forget the manager in question is Sir Alex’s boy in person, of Steve Brucie. 

With the possible departure of our utility man O’Shea, I feel Johnny Evans – who impressed at LB against Chelsea – will have to take his place serving as the utility man for Manchester United, and who’ll get a lot of games but never be a regular. Fergie will have quietly unearthed a seamless, natural defensive progression, that we’ll barely even take notice of. In exactly four years from now, Red Devils’ fans all over the world would not only marvel at the signing of Jones, but the defensive partnership of Smalling and Jones. 

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Fri, 17 Jun 2011 2:45:53 am

Jones n smalling utd n Eng future defence,jones also our future cpt



Fri, 17 Jun 2011 7:21:13 am

hey mod please please…approve comment first then show on this site…….please…there is lots of jerk who pretend stupidly……please u see comment first then if comment good then approve then show on this site……

as far as news i m getting on modric that man utd won’t be involve in bidding war..if sir alex wants him they will make…2 type of bid 1 is cash + player and another is straight cash around 30 to 35 million pound…..not more than that…..man utd don’t belive they really have to match chelsea or Man city ..price they could offer tottenham up to 40 millon pound……


Josh Luke

Fri, 17 Jun 2011 7:40:29 am

We are giving berbatov and 35m apparently for modric


Jack Harrop

Fri, 17 Jun 2011 1:00:52 pm

Jones and Smalling were fantastic for U21s vs Ukraine

Jones was quiet against Spain as Smalling stole the show, but still… Jones was brilliant against Ukraine!

Defo the future England CB pairing



Fri, 17 Jun 2011 3:10:28 pm

Lets not forget the other talent of the future of Rafeal and fabio, they look a class act together as well. The four of them will be ace together……



Sat, 18 Jun 2011 2:37:07 am

This article is clearly about Phil Jones. People need to stop the Modric thing. I honestly don’t know what people see in him… As far as the article goes, Jones n Smalling will be the best cb pairing for club n country in the very near future. Good scouting SAF 🙂



Sun, 19 Jun 2011 3:45:43 am

Well, I thought Jones is a very good signing. I think Fregie will be tempting to make him the next Keano or Hargreaves. Guys, don’t think too much about modric or sneijder, it will not happen! Certain signings are De Gea and Ashley Young, and Gill will try his best to get Sanchez to OT. Sanchez is the man the Graffer wants to replace scholes i think..


I cant understand why you think signing sanchez is more possible than signing modric . I think fergie should consider signing nasri

Tue, 21 Jun 2011 11:34:52 pm


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