Few defenders at Old Trafford have endured as frustrating a few years as Phil Jones has. Injuries and the form of Daley Blind and Chris Smalling took him out of the first team picture last season, and given how he has failed to show any semblance of form or consistency in the three years since Sir Alex Ferguson retired, it wasn’t a wild assumption to suggest that his time at United was done when Jose Mourinho took over. Indeed, the purchase of Eric Bailly and rumoured interest in Southampton’s Jose Fonte made it seem like a matter of days before he and Marcos Rojo, another of United’s misfiring defenders would be on their way out of the club.
Well, not so, says The Daily Mail. Their report on Monday suggests that Stoke City, Watford and Hull City have been informed that Jones is not available, and while stay at United this summer, at least. Reportedly, the man himself wants to see how things pan out in the first few months of this season, with midweek games coming thick and fast from September onwards and lots of opportunities to impress on the way.
It’s a surprise to see the news that Mourinho believes that Jones can play a part in this side, to be honest. Whilst we’ve seen Juan Mata, Antonio Valencia, Daley Blind and Maroaunr Fellaini all star for United in the early parts of this season, and challenging the established narrative that they would be shipped out by the end of the summer transfer window, Jones has yet to feature in a match day squad of significance under Mourinho. Yes, injuries have played their part in the last two years but frequently during periods of fitness, Jones has appeared a player who cannot quite cope with playing at this level, for a club of this size. He still makes mistakes, rash decisions and struggles to be a commanding presence in United’s back four, and five years after his transfer from Blackburn Rovers, his future at the club looked bleak.
But if Mourinho can work his magic, and restore some semblance of confidence in a player that has lacked it for some time, then perhaps there is a way to turn this particular story around. Mata and Blind and company have proven that hard work and effort will change Mourinho’s mind, even if he isn’t sure about what players can offer, so perhaps this is the chance that Jones needs to succeed at United.