When Phil Jones was snaffled by Sir Alex Ferguson in the summer, few would have thought that the former Blackburn youngster would have been an integral part of the Scot's plans. The boy had potential. But in his first six months as a Red Devil, he has shown that he has talent, bravery, leadership qualities, versatility and talent. (So much of the latter I had to mention it twice)
These qualities were in full force in his brief appearence at Craven Cottage last Thursday evening. Injured from a stray elbow in the opening minute from Clint Dempsey, Jones managed to last twenty minutes before succumbing to the injury. His last act on the field was telling. A fantastic last ditch tackle dis-possesed Bryan Ruiz and prevented what looked to be a certain goal scoring opportunity. If he got that wrong, the Ref would have given him his marching orders and with ten men and a penalty to come, the 5-0 victory would have been nigh on impossible.
The fact he pulled off that tackle, while in pain, at such a crucial area on the pitch leads me to believe in Phil Jones. I believe in him and would give serious consideration to him being England Captain after the Euro's.
Before, England captains have been handpicked, been groomed, been tipped but have had to wait their turn. John Terry had to wait untill after David Beckham. Tony Adams after Stuart Pearce & David Platt. The one Captain I can think of who was thrown in at the deep end, despite being short in the tooth, is none other than Bobby Moore.As England's only World Cup Winning Captain he didn't do a bad job. Moore first captained the side at the age of 22 filling in as a replacement. He recieved the armband the following year. In 1966 he lifted the World Cup, and was widely tipped to do so again the following competition, but Brazil's superstars, Pele leading the charge, edged out Moore's England.
As a player. Moore was very calm on the ball (Remind you of Rio?). He was adept at playing as a sweeper, a CB and just in front of the back four. He had a very good ability to pick out a pass. His calmness and ability is summed up beautifully in this extract fromBobby Moore Online - Early Years.
"In the World Cup final in 1966 with the clock ticking on the last few seconds of extra time the ball broke to Bobby on the edge of England's penalty area. The hugely experienced Jack Charlton immediately started screaming for Mooro to get rid of the ball into the crowd to waste a few seconds but Bobby was calmness personified, he looked up and played an inch perfect pass for Geoff Hurst to run onto and complete his historic hat trick. That sort of composure in a pressure cooker environment is one of the many reasons that Bobby Moore was special."
How many modern day players would have the nuts to play a ball like that, when you are 3-2 up in Extra Time of the World Cup Final? Against West Germany of all teams. Many a player (too many) would have lumped the ball clear to then be hit again by a wave of attack from the opposition.
I see a little Bobby Moore in Jones. The way he surges forward in attack, despite playing in the heart of defence means he does things others won't. Sometimes it is heart in mouth stuff. But he doesn't do it without thought & attention (Take note, David Luiz) and he has a knack of choosing the right moments to join the attack.
It is also said that Bobby Moore was a born leader. The way he conducted himself was always with distinction. People looked up to him, wanted to be like him. I see Phil Jones bossing around players in the Red Shirt as though he was a man with 700+ caps. Demanding better from them at all times. The fact he has got just a few more appearances playing for United than he has years he has lived tells me this is a young man that will command respect.
The question for many is has it come too early? A lot will depend on the current Captain and the next boss. I expect John Terry never to play for England again if I am being brutally honest. If he is ever seen wearing the armband again, then something is messed up. I expect he will be found guilty, considering Luis Suarez was this week. That means England needs a new Captain for the Euro's. Now even I don't think Jones should be given that responsibility.
I think that man should be Scott Parker. He has been sensational since breaking into the England team and I think he could let the "name players" flourish. I am talking of the Rooney's, the Lampards and the Gerrard's here. Either way, Fabio Cappelo has a decision. Does he go with someone he has tried and tested before? And failed for that matter. Or does he go in a new direction. I Would rather he go with Parker, as he has experience as a captain, and he won't have long as a top international player with his age. I think he will last untill the World cup in 2014, by which time it will be time for new blood. Jones is that new blood.
England has seen many a youth player break into the side recently, and many more within touching distance. The failed relics of the "Golden Generation" have had their time or is running out of it. Chris Smalling, Danny Welbeck, Jack Rodwell, Alex Oxlade-Chamberlain, Jack Wilshire, Tom Cleverley, Ross Barkley and Daniel Sturridge to name but a few...... Their time is coming very soon and they don't need players that are passed it holding them back, keeping them out of the team due to their reputation in the PL. And what better player to guide them, than our own Phil Jones.
Look at what the Welsh have done this past year. A year that has ended in sadness at the recent news of their manager's passing. Gary Speed had made huge strides. And he had done that with youth playing a major part.
Their Captain. 19 year old Aaron Ramsey!