Manchester United: Phil Jones a Star in the Making for Club and England
Phil Jones, at 19 years old, is a star prospect for Manchester United FC and the England national football team.
He has been playing well above his age and experience level for the Red Devils this season, as he is proving to be the long-term replacement for Rio Ferdinand at the back. However, his skill set is vastly greater than Ferdinand’s, and Jones may eventually opt to leave MUFC in response to future calls from renowned clubs seeking his world-class talent.
That being said, for now, Jones is the answer that Sir Alex so desperately needs to lead the Devils back line in front of an aging Patrice Evra, a recovering Nemanja Vidic and a very inconsistent Johnny Evans. Here are some explanations for why he will one day achieve legendary status as an English defender.
Composure in Champions League Play 2011-2012
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So far this season in Champions League group play, Phil Jones has impressively been Manchester United’s most consistent defender. Not only did he serve as a defensive stalwart against Otelul Galati a few weeks ago, he applied much-needed pressure from the back—gallivanting through the middle (as a center-half) and nearly sending in a shot or two from the right flank.
Against FC Basel, he was often the last line standing between Alexander Frei and De Gea’s goal line. Although he made an error in the box allowing for Basel’s third goal via a penalty, he provided direction throughout the game in the back line where Man U’s other backs consistently lacked. On Nov. 22, Jones started at center-half once again against SL Benfica, and played well in the effort (which resulted in a 2-2 draw).
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At 6'0" and 185 pounds, Phil Jones has an impressive build for a quick full-back. He has excellent decision-making ability, and is rarely pushed off of the ball (reminiscent of Lucio of Inter Milan in his prime).
Additionally, as mentioned on the previous slide, Jones is an undeniable offensive threat at the back. His skill in attack has been on display this season in both Champions League and Premier League ties for MUFC.
For example, when United played Bolton Wanderers earlier this season (and won 5-0), Jones played the entire game at right-back yet managed to provide an assist for Wayne Rooney via a brilliant cross. Shortly after, Jones embarked on a dazzling dribble going past numerous Bolton defenders before his shot was blocked but eventually finished by Rooney. Jones made a similar type of run in United's next game at home against Chelsea when he got into the box and caused panic among the Chelsea defense, before the ball ricocheted to Wayne Rooney to score.
Simply put, Jones may become one of the most versatile and effective defensive backs England and MUFC have ever seen.
Bright Future: Surrounded by Talent
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Currently, England is going through a transformation away from their so-called “golden generation” of players. The team and Fabio Capello are slowly moving away from a consistent core of Steven Gerrard, Frank Lampard, Wayne Rooney, John Terry, Ashley Cole and Peter Crouch, as new players are being incorporated more regularly.
Such promising young strikers and midfielders include Danny Welbeck, Daniel Sturridge, Andy Carroll, Jack Wilshere, Tom Cleverly and Jack Rodwell. Although this team has much meshing to do, with defenders like Jones and Chris Smalling, they will pose a serious threat in the 2014 World Cup in Brazil, and could also potentially be very dangerous in Poland/Ukraine next summer for Euro 2012.
In being surrounded by such talent, Jones will no doubt have the opportunity to develop his skills around other world-class talents.
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In conclusion, Sir Alex Ferguson has once again proven why he is arguably the best manager in the world. He scouted a young talent in Jones who seemed full of potential but rather unrefined at Blackburn Rovers, and has developed him into one of the top defenders in the Premier League during this 2011-2012 season.
Seeing as how most defenders play well into their 30s, Jones certainly has the skill to one day contend as one of the best defenders in the world. Look for him to blossom this season in both the EPL and the UEFA Champions League.
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