Back in July, the Guardian's Manchester correspondent Jamie Jackson made the frankly bizarre claim that Phil Jones and Chris Smalling had "been informed they start the term as the first-choice pairing" at Old Trafford. Either José Mourinho was pulling a hilarious prank or he never actually made such a statement, with Jones having failed to feature in either of United's opening league fixtures.
Instead, the former England international has been strongly linked with moves elsewhere; according to the Daily Mail: "Stoke, Watford and Hull City are among around a dozen clubs to have made enquiries for the 24-year-old." But United are reportedly refusing to let Jones go amid fears over defensive cover. With Cameron Borthwick-Jackson the latest to leave on loan, it may be with good reason.
The news is, however, arguably less good for the man himself. Alex Ferguson once famously made the rather outlandish claim that Jones could go on to become the best player in United's history; instead, he's oscillated between the dugout and the physio's table. At 24 he really needs to be playing regular Premier League games if he's to force his way back into United and England contention, but it's hard to see that coming too regularly at Old Trafford this season.