Date: 10th June 2011 at 12:30pm
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The imminent signing of Phil Jones from Blackburn for a reported £16 million has surprised some people, including myself. £16 million for a player who only made his Premiership debut in March 2010 and has yet to make a senior England squad?

Yes, £16 million is a lot of money, even when you throw in the hyped “English premium” for transfers between Premiership clubs. But Phil Jones is a raw talent and has the potential to become a world-class player for United and England in the future, with the likes of Stuart Pearce labelling him a future England captain.

United only moved for Jones this summer because the likes of Arsenal, Chelsea and Liverpool were all sniffing around him, as Sir Alex reportedly wanted to wait another year but Jones’ talent and potential is too good to pass up on, and even though United need strengthening in other areas, it’s a better alternative than letting him go to another club.

Phil Jones has certainly gained some fans in his short stint in the Blackburn first team. Ex-Rovers striker Kevin Gallacher believes £16 million for Jones is a bargain, telling the BBC:

“I think he’s underpriced to be honest… He is already top quality and will only get better with the players around him at Manchester United.”

Wayne Rooney is also a fan, tweeting that, “Phil jones is a good young English player. 1 of the toughest defenders I played against last season.”

He’s definitely got potential, but where does Jones fit in United’s plans for next season?

Obviously he’s a signing for the future, and an eventual successor to Rio if and when he finally succumbs to injury. But for now, Jones isn’t needed in defence with the best centre back pairing in Europe in Rio and Vidic as first choice, and Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans backing them up.

The factor that will count in Jones’ favour is his versatility. Last season he excelled for Blackburn in the holding role in front of Chris Samba and Ryan Nelson, providing that bite and tough tackling in midfield, which was badly needed in a team that was battling relegation.

That’s where Jones can shine for United. Jones can fill that Owen Hargreaves role of sitting in front of the back four and breaking up play, something that United have badly missed in the last two seasons that Hargreaves has missed through injury.

It has been argued that Jones lacks the discipline and top level experience to step in straight away and take over the enforcer role in the United midfield, and that’s true.

But Jones is only 19, and has plenty of time to grow into that role. The main difference between United and Blackburn is that Jones isn’t needed to come in and contribute right away. United have plenty of options in the middle of the park, and Jones can deputise for the likes of Fletcher, Carrick, Anderson, Giggs and whoever else is signed this summer, until he’s ready.

That’s the key word to describe Jones – potential. Give him time to develop and learn from the best, and United could have a world-class player as a partner for Vidic or as a holding midfielder in a few years time. The £16 million price tag is a bit steep, but surely it’s better than having to pay £25 million a year’s time or losing him to your greatest rivals.

What do you think? Where will Jones fit in the United team for next season?


10 responses to “Where does Phil Jones fit in United’s plans next season?”

  1. bill says:

    Thinkinh about it, he does have all the attrivutes Hargreaves had but I personally hope Jones’ long term position is CB not DMC.

    Just the prospect of having Smalling and Jones as our long long term CB partnership (also for England) is exciting isnt it? Smalling the new Rio with his composure and ‘cool’ head whilst Jones the new Vidic with his no nonesense, hard tackling style

    But like you said, we have many CBs atm but not many, if any, tough tackling DMCs in the squad (Fletcher’s more of a box to box) so he may well play there next season

  2. BlueAllsop says:

    Blackburn fan here! I beleive that Jones was one of Blackburn’s best players last year in defence and he performed to a level that no one expected in premier league for a teenager! It’s always sad to see your better players leave especially at the tender age of 19. But to be perfectly honest i think that Jonesy couldn’t turn down a club as prestigous as Manchester United! He will be a great loss for Blackburn as well becuase Samba will be unlikely to stay at Rovers after another brilliant year at the back, as a result rovers will lose the back up provided by Jones in the absence of Samba. Hope Jonesy has a long and successful career at united and hopefully go on to become England Captain! ARTE ET LABORE

  3. timbo says:

    Geez, for a guy who’s barely had a season under his belt, people have a lot to say about what he’s going to accomplish for United!

    Short term I think he’ll play as a holding midfielder, which makes sense given the depth United already have at CB. As well, given his height he certainly is no replacement for either Vidic or Ferdinand, and one must remember that Fergie likes his central defenders big and strong both for their defensive attributes and their heading ability in attack, and at 5’11” Jones doesn’t fit the bill.

    He may well be viewing Jones long term as a Keane-like holding midfielder which the side has sorely missed since the Irishman’s retirement. It wouldn’t be the first time Fergie has taken a player and moved him to another position (think Scholes years ago, Anderson more recently) The purchase would thus make sense under the circumstances.

  4. Mwai says:

    We have no problem with our defense nor the wings(Jones & Young).The problem lies in our central midfield.The sooner SAF fix that,the better.Break any bank and bring on Sneidjer and Modric.Then get rid of some of our fringe players and trade in Gibson for Fellaine(Everton).The latter was the best DMF last season before he got an injury.De Gea,Rafael,Ferdi,Vidic,Evra,Fellaine,Modric,Sneijder,Nani,Rooney,Chicarito.Even Barca would hate to meet us.

    • cccc says:

      felliane??? what are you talking about???

      • timo says:

        Agree. What the hell are you talking about, mwai? Fellaini is not that good. Period. He is okay. Versatile, but only okay. And sneijder and modric play the exact same position. Not to mention, where are we going to get an extra 100 million pounds to buy all three? Come on man. I agree we need another center midfielder though. I think we need someone younger than Modric and Sneijder, however.

  5. aaron says:

    im sure every utd fan was saying the exact same about smalling but look at how well he has done i think jones if he starts he will play midfield and will play group stage champions league games fa and carling cup games so he will gain experience

  6. I think he is a great signing.

  7. smartalex says:

    Well done United, Phil Jones is a great signing.
    He will get game time, as seen fit in the United team next season. He was surely not central to any immediate plans, but then, neither was Smalling. I guess that it is absolutely our intention to mould Phil to the DM role in the long term.