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Manchester United's Phil Jones is brilliant, study finds

According to boffins, it has been discovered that Manchester United's central defender Phil Jones is the world's best for his age group.

Michael Regan/Getty Images

When you think of Phil Jones, certain things come to mind. Of people walking into walls. Of people walking off a cliff by accident. Of Sideshow Bob stepping on a rake, then stepping on another rake, then stepping on another rake, then stepping on another rake, then stepping on another rake, all while 11 opponents walk around him to score goal after goal after goal.

You cast your mind back and remember all the great promise. Initially, Blackburn Rovers tried to hold out as Liverpool made a rival bid, and it seemed like Manchester United had a tough deal on their hands, and finally stole away a defender who had kept Didier Drogba in his pocket for his first side.

When he started playing for United, a few things made an impression. One, his physical stature for someone so young. Second, his barrelling runs from central defence and at right back, barging past player and supporting the attack. Third, his tactical flexibility, learning the ropes in central midfield, breaking up play by covering miles of turf and tackling whenever possible.

When we'd had him for a couple of years, a few more things had made an impression. One, his physical weakness for someone so young was remarkable. His second touch was an injury, people said. Second, his runs forward were clownish and took him out of position, exposing United to attacks and leaving them vulnerable in possession. Third, his lack of tactical knowledge stood out for someone who'd played so many games against top opposition, and he struggled with simple things like passing, controlling the ball, and standing upright when the ball was near him. Just standing up generally, to be honest.

It turns out, observers were wrong. He is actually one of the best defenders in the world. He is better than Marquinhos. He is better than Stefan de Vrij, whom Louis van Gaal wanted but had already agreed to join Lazio. He is even better than Raphael Varane, the man Alex Ferguson missed out on before turning his attention to Jones.

Don't believe us? Then just read the International Centre for Sports Studies' report here. You can prove anything with facts.