Regarding Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, it tends to be a recency bias which influences which of the pair supporters think should be sold first. Jones ended the 2018 season badly, conceding the penalty which lead to a loss in the FA Cup Final. Smalling then conceded a penalty against Everton in October and it was again Jones that was the preferred candidate to be Manchester United’s ‘other centre half.’
Jones’ greatest achievement of the 2019 season was somehow earning a new contract at Old Trafford. It was undeserved and will be remembered as another shining example of the mismanagement of Manchester United in recent seasons.
The player once feted as ‘the next Duncan Edwards’ might always have struggled to live up to that hype, but Jones has never even had a hint of being an automatic starter at Manchester United. There is little about his game that suggests top tier centre half and were he to leave United, it would be the Brightons, Burnleys, and Newcastles who would be most interested.
At that level, Jones might indeed prove a revelation but his United season again failed to win over any fans and few would be sad to see him leave Old Trafford. AB
Enough is enough. It’s time to be blunt about Phil Jones. After 8 seasons, we know what he is. The physical gifts are there in abundance — the sturdy frame, the considerable speed — as well as that “bravery” that is so beloved by a certain type of supporter. For better or (more often) for worse, Jones has never been afraid to put his head where it doesn’t belong. What is not there in abundance though, is everything else that is required of a top class center back: composure, ball-playing ability, anticipation, and even a hint of being able to last 2 months without stupidly hurting oneself. In 8 seasons, Jones has only made 216 appearances — an indictment of his inability to stay off the treatment table. No player has had more frequent injuries, and certainly none can claim Jones’ record of causing those injuries himself.
This past season was Jones’ United career in a nutshell. There were brief moments where he looked like a suitable player, but those moments were no longer sustained enough to fool anyone into thinking that he is good enough for this club (anyone aside from Ed Woodward, that is, who bizarrely awarded him a new contract). Instead, Jones was repeatedly injured and when not, he was consistently error-prone. 2018/19 is the season in which Jones may have finally and permanently exposed himself as being worse and less reliable than Chris Smalling, himself an absolute clown show of a defender. With any luck, we’ll never see Jones in a United shirt again. BM