According to reports, Manchester United manager Jose Mourinho has made a surprising decision of keeping Phil Jones next term as the Portuguese manager gets ready for a huge season next year with the Red Devils. The 25-year-old has been one of the underwhelming performers last season and was touted a goner by critics and fans.
Manchester United had one of their worst seasons in the Premier League last term as they finished sixth in the table garnering only 69 points from the 38 games. Arsenal, the team finishing fifth above them, had a six points gap and scored 23 goals more than them.
The only positive from United’s season was their defence. The Red Devils had the second best defensive record in the league with the side conceding only 29 goals throughout the season, second only to runner-up Tottenham Hotspur (26). And even in that, Jones played his part. The Preston-born player had a season to forget as he missed a whopping 23 games, owing to a knee injury followed by a toe injury.
He was out for 104 days in total to add the lengthy injury list Mourinho had to deal at the other end, with Chris Smalling, Eric Bailey, Daley Blind and Marcos Rojo all taking turns on the treatment table. Jones was fit for only four months from November to mid-March mainly and he started all the 18 league games then, in a crisis time, keeping United’s back line intact.
United’s biggest frustration was their huge number draws in all competitions, which forced Mourinho’s men to play and replay a huge number of games helping little to their already injured squad. Mourinho hasn’t wasted any time in bringing in Victor Lindelof this summer to avoid any such situations next season.
The Swedish international cost United a whopping £35million and is expected to be a huge upgrade to United’s existing back line. And Mourinho’s decision with Jones shouldn’t come as a shock. The 54-year-old has always believed in playing conservative football and given the fact that he opted first for a centre-half despite already having Bailly, Rojo and Smalling at the back, only indicates his adherence to the philosophy.
Jones has been a good backup option for United since his arrival from Blackburn Rovers back in 2011. Although injuries have always been a huge hindrance to him that led him to miss at least 10 games almost every season, he has still played over 160 games for them, scoring five goals and assisting nine times.
He has also been a regular for the Three Lions since debuting in 2011 and has earned 21 caps since. He never had the potential to be a regular starter, but the 25-year-old has all the potential to step up as and when needed. So is Mourinho right in keeping him?