Phil Jones Need Not Be Franz Beckenbauer, Franco Baresi or John O’Shea
Most Reds will recall John O’Shea’s first full season as a United regular. He showed more than promise, he actually delivered almost from day one.
Eight years on John is primarily remembered for three things, the nutmeg of Figo, scoring a winner in front of the Kop and putting in a fine stint as emergency goalkeeper against Spurs.
Despite picking up a fine share of decorations in his time with United (as most who spend any serious time there tend to do), it is generally held that Sheasy never really made the most of his career and ended up being a utility player. There’s no shame in that of course but a lot of people seemed to expect more from him and became disparaging of his presence at Old Trafford.
I mention this out of concern for the multi-talented Phil Jones. Don’t get me wrong I am a big fan of his but some of the hype surrounding him of late could be harmful to his progress. Personally I’ve not got a word to say against him. His attitude has been exemplary and he’s certainly shown the spirit and the marauding nature we like in United players.
However, no good can come of comparing a 19 year old lad to Franz Beckenbauer. The old cliché of a young player being the new Pele, Maradona or any other legendary figure is pure hyperbole. We have to let promising young players become themselves instead of hampering them with such comparisons.
His press has caused some amusement however. The frustration of some Liverpool fans on Twitter claiming that Phil is overrated has been fantastic. We can only begin to imagine the nonsense they would be spouting if by some twist of fate he had found himself turning out at Anfield.
Jones has shown incredible versatility already this season. So much in fact that Fabio Capello seemed happy to throw him into midfield for England against such luminaries as Xavi, Iniesta and Silva.
Whatever your feelings are about Capello he is a coach of wide experience so his show of faith in Jones at such an early stage, plus the final outcome of that match may suggest where the young Lancastrian’s future lies. Some people say that he didn’t acquit himself too well in that game but, putting it into perspective, England didn’t concede against a single goal against the World Champions so surely he did something right?
Considering his other potential positions, Jones is an inch shy of being 6ft whereas our other centre backs are at least 6ft 2″ so it is debatable as to whether he will have the aerial presence to dominate his own penalty area when in the middle although a good positional sense and reading of the game should compensate for this in the long term.
Similarly, he has had some good performances at full back so far this season (a big bonus) but I think Rafael will make that position his own in the next few years, if he can stay free of injuries, as he has all the qualities to be a top full-back, more so than Phil.
Ultimately, I would like to see him add some much needed defensive prowess to our midfield in the short-term, where he’s able to boss the game and express himself in equal measure!
Marry that with his ability and bravery to drive forward and the precocious leadership skills that he displayed at Blackburn and we could well be looking at something very promising. No comparisons needed thank you.
Written by Guest Writer, Ross Armstrong