A product of the prolific Blackburn Rovers youth system and following 40 first-team appearances, Phillip Anthony Jones became a Manchester United player for an estimated fee of £16.5 million. Despite being just a 19-year old lad, Jones had already established himself as a first-choice at the heart of Rovers’ defense, something unusual especially for a team trying to avoid relegation to Championship, a goal they managed to achieve against all odds.
The Preston-born player started his career at Old Trafford in spectacular fashion, lifting the Community Shield at Wembley following a 3-2 win over Manchester City in a pulsating match, becoming a key member of Sir Alex Ferguson’s squad both in defense and midfield and making his debut for his country at a draw 2-2 in Montenegro. Nevertheless, Lucky Lady turned her back on Jones, as he picked up some niggling injuries preventing him from cementing his place at United’s starting line-up. Even then, Ferguson kept his faith on you pupil. "He’s definitely a future captain," stated Sir Alex. "There’s no doubt about that. I said that from the minute he came to us that I thought there was something about the boy."
Jones finished his first season at Manchester United playing a full game at Sunderland’s Stadium of Light and assisting Wayne Rooney to score the only goal of a very sad game for United’s faithful. However, not everything went wrong for Jones in spring, as he was named in Roy Hodgson’s 23-man squad for the UEFA Euro 2012 held in Poland and Ukraine, although he wasn’t given any chance to play at all.
Although Jones preferred position is center-back, his versatility is undoubtedly one of his major assets, as he is more than capable to perform either as a defender or midfielder. With Rio Ferdinand approaching the end of his illustrious career, Jones has an outstanding chance to claim Rio’s spot for his own. On a different note, some pundits see Jones as a new and update version of Mr. Versatility, namely the former Irish player John O’Shea, who was an integral member of United’s set-up during as many as 12 seasons, featuring 393 times and notching 15 goals.
Having said that, what does the future have in stock for Jones? Will he become Manchester United’s captain as expected and emulate Duncan Edwards feats? Will he end up being a squad player, yet important, like O’Shea was? This seeason may well shed light on Jones’s future as a Manchester United player.