Phil Jones, after a good season to date, had a shocker this evening against Newcastle for Manchester United. But is the hype dangerous and could he be the new John O'Shea?
Manchester United’s full-back/centre-half/midfielder/saviour Phil ‘Jones’ Jones is attracting huge amounts of attention this season, most of it unanimously positive. His youth, dynamism and enthusiasm are hugely promising but the hype developing around him is unnecessary, unwelcome and for now, unwarranted. A number of people who should know far better have already used the name Duncan Edwards in relation to the big lad signed from Blackburn. Ignoring the fact that Edwards had played over a 100 games by the time he was Jones age, the comparisons do little to dispel the wave of hagiographic fellatio pouring the young lad’s way.
As a fan, Jones offers me great hope for the future but listening to the media it’s as if Nelson Mandela has stepped into the boots of Bryan Robson and set off to defeat the Spanish armada. Jones undoubtedly shows huge promise and potential but so do a number of players at his age. He may indeed develop in to a great player but at the moment it’s just as likely that he’s merely the English John O’Shea. Similarly endowed with the demeanour of Forrest Gump, O’Shea burst onto the scene at United with a youthful fearlessness that saw him nutmeg Luis Figo and draw comparisons with Patrick Viera and Paul McGrath before he’d played a score of games. Useful player that he did become, United fans were nevertheless far from bothered when he headed for the Stadium Of Light retirement home over the summer. It’s doubtful Jones will ever have to beg a Fergie old-boy for a contract but it’s also too early to hang the future of the club on the kids shoulders.
Like a modern-day Lancastrian Perseus, Jones is fast –developing a mythology of his own. Those who saw a raw, big-boned lummox, muscle his way through under-16 matches are now proclaiming they knew then they were seeing a player destined to become one of the games greats. After just 20 games in a red shirt Jones, we are told, will be a United and England captain for the next decade at least. Maybe he will be but at the moment he too often demonstrates a lack of composure, a need to develop his positioning and the worst hair at United since Rio’s cornrows. He makes eye-catching, barnstorming runs into the opposition’s box but as often as not he runs out of pitch before he can deliver anything. There’s a lot to his game but there’s also a lot for him still to find.
He already appears to be an England regular after running-around lots and lots in the glorious victory against the world champions. For a nation and a media desperate to see the back of England’s failed ‘Golden Generation’, Jones is a panacea of youth and unspoiled promise for the Three Lions undoubted future glory. If he ever does captain England and more unlikely, win something, the media sages will be claiming stories of stigmata, a family tree including Henry V and the ghostly vision of Sir Matt smoking his pipe, nodding knowingly.
Having said all that I’ve just watched his performance against QPR where he bestrode the pitch like Franz Beckenbauer on Guinness and speed so maybe, just maybe, we are watching the emergence of someone truly special.
Jones, like others before him, has his ‘greatness’ reinforced by the lazy platitudes lobbed his way by the soul-less, sofa, sycophants on Sky and MOTD, who transfer their lazy clichés into the mouths and fingertips of the majority of PL [sic] fans who consume their football this way. Alan Hansen has probably already proclaimed him as the greatest player of all time and as good as Han Solo. For a month every season the ‘expert pundits’ big-up some solid premier league Tom Huddlestone, Dick or Harry into being the next big thing in the game, before deciding that actually Scott ‘Scotty’ Parker is the best player in the country and never mentioning last month’s candidate ever again. The dicks.
Jones is filling-in in midfield at the moment mainly due to Fletchers illness-enforced absence, Carrick’s loss of hearing and Anderson. There’s no need for Ferguson to buy anyone in January though. For one there’s no value in the market as he will have said by now and for two, Tom Cleverly will return ‘like a new signing’ to lead the team to glory. During his absence through injury, Cleverly has changed from promising, potentially classy midfield player into the new Paul Scholes and will probably start facing Jones-style overkill as soon as he passes to a team-mate in his comeback game.
Big Phil will probably end-up in the middle of defence. He vision is impressive and would serve him and the team well from the back. His size and heading ability are a natural fit within a forward-looking back four and it just seems right that he will form a pairing with Chris Smalling that could serve United for a number of years. I fervently hope he turns into the greatest centre-half in Europe but then I hoped that about Wes Brown. I hope that everything pans-out as is currently being predicted, I just wish the lad could have a bit of time and space to develop, rather than having the fates of empires resting on his admittedly broad shoulders.
Having said all that I’ve just watched his performance against QPR where he bestrode the pitch like Franz Beckenbauer on Guinness and speed so maybe, just maybe, we are watching the emergence of someone truly special. Maybe. (It was only QPR though).
Follow Michael on Twitter here @realsuedeshoes
Click here for more Football and Sport stories
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Twitter
Click here to follow Sabotage Times on Facebook