While anyone who hails from Blackburn is rightly proud that John Lennon was moved to sing about '10,000 holes in Blackburn Lancashire', all we're really bothered about this morning is one big hole in the defence of Blackburn Rovers. If, as expected, Phil Jones signs for Manchester United, we have lost a player who will, mark my words, go onto captain his country before the 2014 World Cup.
A product of the Rovers academy at Brockhall, Jones played 25 times for us last season, 9 the season before and has been capped by England at U19 and U21 levels. Manchester United fans may have only seen fleeting glimpses of him and be worried about the price as, even with Vidic and Ferdinand ageing, they are well covered at centre-half with Chris Smalling and Johnny Evans. They need not worry.
So is he worth £16m? Yes, in fact he's worth twice or possibly three times that. A defender who both loves to defend and can pass the ball off both feet, he has the potential to improve rapidly and combine the warrior-like attributes of Jamie Carragher with the librero-esque tendencies of Rio Ferdinand.
Accomplished at right-back, centre-back and also in a deep-lying midfield role, he makes up for a slight lack of pace with a tremendous appreciation of the game and is as comfortable smashing centre-forwards as he is nutmegging attacking midfielders.
Jones is good enough to be playing in the Champions League and what player doesn’t want to have a go at stopping the likes of Messi and Ronaldo?
Blackburn Rovers have been truly blessed with centre-backs in recent years and everyone connected with the club is steadfast in the belief that he will go on to be a better player than Hendry or Henchoz.
Jones is good enough to be playing in the Champions League and what player doesn’t want to have a go at stopping the likes of Messi and Ronaldo? Even though it pains me to write this he wasn’t going to get that opportunity at Rovers and Alex Ferguson has shown that of a player is good enough, age doesn't come into his thinking for Manchester United.
Much like when Manchester United signed Cristiano Ronaldo after he ripped them to pieces in a friendly, you can guarantee that Fergie will have asked his strikers to name the defenders they had problems against. Indeed Wayne Rooney, from a sun lounger in Barbados, was moved to tweet the following.
‘Phil Jones is a good young English player. One of the toughest defenders I played against last season. Can play midfield to.'
So where does this leave Blackburn Rovers? It’s disappointing to lose a player at the start of their career seeing as he’s home-grown and has so much potential but to be honest I can’t get that upset. I’m sure some Rovers fans will disagree saying we developed him, he has walked out on us, where’s the loyalty?! And part of me agrees but I’m also a realist. I wish he would stay for a couple more years but chances like this don’t come around every day and I’m sure that Phil and his agent know that.
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