The best and worst moments of Phil Jones' career at Man United (2023)

At 31, Phil Jones should have played a career-high 30 games a season at the heart of the defense - without being released at the end of his contract, having not featured for over 12 months.

The former England international will leave United at the end of the current campaign, despite the club having the option to extend his contract by a further year, ending Jones' 12-year stay at Old Trafford.

While many football fans will remember him for his wry facial expressions, long spells on the sidelines and one of the most unconventional heads you'll ever see, his stunning performance at the Bernabeu often goes unnoticed.

Maybe he came with too many promises hanging over his head, maybe it was because of the devastating injury that marked his career, but the youngster who was once predicted to be United's future will now leave a shadow of the player as his potential suggested. .

Here, Mail Sport takes you through the ups and downs of Jones' long, arduous and sometimes inexplicable career at one of the world's biggest football clubs.

Phil Jones will leave Manchester United after 12 years at the end of his current contract in July 2023

Jones has not featured in a competitive game since their Premier League clash in the 2021-22 season

The 31-year-old has never played for Erik ten Hag (pictured) since arriving at Old Trafford

Jones arrived at Old Trafford during Sir Alex Ferguson's reign at a time when United were still the dominant force in England, joining neighbors Blackburn Rovers in a deal worth around £16million.

Ferguson was so keen to secure the then teenager's signature that he personally took him on a family holiday to France and saw him on the wrong side of a 7-1 win over United in the FA Youth Cup.

According to reports, what caught the attention of the great Scottish manager was his willingness to scold, order and instruct team-mate Michel Salgado - a defender who played 371 games, won two Champions Leagues and four LaLigas with Real Madrid. Jones was only 18 years old.

(Video) The Strange Career of Phil Jones

He broke straight into the first team and made 42 appearances in seven different competitions, quickly becoming part of a wardrobe that included treble goalscorers, England captains, Ballon d'Or winners and the somehow more impressive Nemanja Vidic.

It was clear at the time that Jones was on his way to success at Old Trafford, following a well-trodden path at the club, prompting Ferguson to say in 2013: a player.'

This infamous quote - often used as a way of ridiculing United fans - came right after Jones helped United win their last Premier League crown in 2013 in what was arguably the red shirt's best performance.

United went to the Bernabeu for the first leg of their Champions League clash and came away with a massive 1-1 draw, giving them tie advantage.

The England international had already scored the winning goal in a group game against Shakhtar - converting a Robin van Persie corner with a well-executed half volley - and was a key player in their Champions League campaign.

Jones signed for Sir Alex Ferguson's United in 2011 and won the Premier League in 2012-13

Jones is set to leave as one of the few players with a Premier League medal from United

But it was in the Spanish capital that Jones - and not 2010 World Cup winner Xabi Alonso or 2014 winner Sami Khedira - controlled the midfield, chased down runners, made the final move and played the ball around the back with impressive composure in one of the biggest stages of the game.

Jones was later ruled out of the second leg, which United lost 2–0 at home and lost 3–1 on aggregate to Cristiano Ronaldo's Los Blancos side.

"He (Sir Alex Ferguson) was just unbelievable to me," Jones said of his then manager's reaction to his performance years later.

"I was at the premiere of his film with some players and he came in, we shook hands and then suddenly he said: 'Hey, you were bloody good against Real Madrid away (in 2013). Damn Ronaldo tagging. " It just gave me confidence.

Jones was a bit more humble in his own assessment of his performance - widely regarded as his best yet.

"There was a lot of hype around [Cristiano] Ronaldo in that game, but we limited him to a couple of chances and got a good 1-1 result at the Bernabeu before we lost at home [and were eliminated],"said about the game in 2020.

(Video) Thank You, Phil Jones 🤝❤️

"It was amazing: the stadium, the atmosphere. It was a crazy game and one that flashes at the time. You don't really notice it until years later.

“I had Carras (Michael Carrick) by my side and for me he was very underrated. His departure and vision was a joke. Basically my job was to give him the ball, encourage us to play and that's exactly what we did.

While the defender struggled to repeat the heroics of that night in Madrid, he remained a regular in the team despite not uprooting any trees, making 157 appearances over the next six campaigns, an average of nearly 27 games per season.

One of Jones' best performances came against Real Madrid in the 2013 Champions League

Jones started as a central midfielder and helped keep Cristiano Ronaldo (centre) at bay.

But as important as he was on the sidelines, Jones began to make a name for himself as one of the most comically cursed players in the game, seeming to attract bugs on the field wherever he went.

Whether in 2018 he tripped over a piece of carpet on a pitch in a London stadium, kicked the ball in his own hand during pre-season, or in 2014 he scored a penalty far over the goal and accidentally in the face of a fan - memes - it seemed that they had followed Jones' career very closely.

Then there was the infamous "header" against Arsenal, where he threw himself at the feet of Olivier Giroud to stop the Frenchman heading into the goal.

Courage for defense or loss of balance? The player's eye on the ball would suggest the former, but that didn't stop him from leaving fans in stitches.

And it wouldn't be the last time either. Jones' impressive array of facial expressions as he was drawn into the action was a source of endless laughter.

(Video) Phil Jones First Match in 2 YEARS is Better Than Maguire Whole Season?

Jones also scored some very memorable own goals, doing so with a header against Newcastle and a lovely finish just wide of the post against Tottenham in the Premier League.

Between November 2011 and December 2018, Manchester United scored just two own goals in the Champions League. Jones scored both goals.

And the final goal will surely live in the memory of United fans for a long time, as the defender managed to dribble past an onrushing Sergio Romero from outside the box to give Valencia a 2-0 lead out of nowhere.

But despite all the flaws, Jones still showed enough quality to win back-to-back World Cup call-ups in 2014 and 2018 - one of only six players to do so, along with Jordan Henderson, Luke Shaw, Gary Cahill, Danny Welbeck and Raheem Sterling.

But not only on an international level. Louis van Gaal was reportedly on the verge of signing Mats Hummels before deciding against it as he was convinced Jones could stay fit andFabio Capello compared him to the legendary Franco Baresi, who silenced Alonso, Xavi, Andres Iniesta and Sergio Busquets in a 1-0 victory over a midfielder aged just 19.

The English defender began to pay attention to the strange expressions on the pitch

Now 31, the 31-year-old has suffered from a number of injury problems, particularly knees, ankles and hamstrings.

Perhaps one of his most famous moments in a United shirt was a header save against Olivier Giroud in 2017.

Even later in his United career, he started eight of Ole Gunnar Solskjær's first 11 games as interim manager. Regardless of who took over for United or who was in charge of the England team, Jones stayed in and around the team, so there was clearly talent and skill there when he was fit.

However, in 2020 the games dried up, and after missing every game in the 2020–21 season, he played just eight games in almost three and a half years.

Jones' injury history cannot be ignored when it comes to explaining his strange career at United - he was ruled out of 205 games through injury in his 12 years at the club, just 24 fewer than he actually played.

(Video) Remember this? Phil Jones kicks corner!!!

There were four serious knee injuries - one sidelined him for 454 daysTransfermarked- as well as four in his hamstrings and five in his ankles, which cruelly limited any form he could muster.

His injury and subsequent loss of form did not bring an end to the disappointment, with fans beginning to abuse him so much on social media that the club had to file a complaint on Twitter.

Jones' account on the platform has not seen any tweets since May 2017, although it remains active.

There are fans who will point to his four-year contract extension in 2019, worth a reported £13.6m, as a poor decision, and given the small number of games he has managed since then, that would be difficult to argue with it. it is from an economic point of view.

But as one of the few players in the dressing room at the time with a Premier League winner's medal - as well as every other England and Europa League title on top of that - there are several reasons why he would have been an important member of changing room.

But now his time at Old Trafford is coming to an end, having made 229 appearances for the iconic red shirt in 12 years, which will seem much longer for both the player and the club's fans.

Despite a good start under Ole Gunnar Solskjær (front, second from left, Jones was a perennial figure on the bench

Jones has played just eight games since suffering an injury in January 2020

The player once hailed as the key to silencing Ronaldo, Benzema and Di Maria is now refusing to testify because he doubts anyone will turn up.

The image of him prone in front of Giroud, face in the mud and head on the ball, may live longer in the memory than his Premier League winners' medal, but it's somehow fitting and your interpretation of it is likely to change the color of your opinion of Jones as a United player.

(Video) Phil Jones - The Legend

On the one hand, you have a clumsy, incident-plagued defender who can't help but laugh at the fans after another mistake from the back.

On the other hand, you have a player who is willing to do anything to get the ball back, determined not to let the opposition get away, and determined to keep his side in the game, no matter what the cost to his body .


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