“Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player. I think Jones may be one of the best players we have ever had, not matter where we play him. At 21 years of age, he is going to be a phenomenal player. I think he can play anywhere on the pitch.”
Those were the words of the great Sir Alex Ferguson as Manchester United clinched the Premier League title back in 2013, with young defender Phil Jones having played a role in bringing the title back to Old Trafford.
Arriving with the Red Devils back in the summer of 2011 from Blackburn Rovers, Jones had a reputation that was seemingly growing year on year as he quickly racked up 29 league appearances in his first campaign for the club, underlining the manager’s faith in his new recruit.
Jones would go on to become a regular over the next few years, earning 27 caps for England at international level as he became a more and more complete defender.
However the fine line between consistency and inconsistency is one that can be viewed as thread bare in the case of some footballers, with it taking only one injury to derail a player’s progress.
Unfortunately for Jones, he was one of those players as a knee problem continued to plague much of the centre back’s more recent United career, thus seeing him slowly fall down the pecking order under the likes of David Moyes, Louis van Gaal, Jose Mourinho and more recently Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
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The defender is now at the point in which his next career move could be make or break for him, with the player having only been afforded just over 30 appearances over the last two and a bit seasons, underlining the sheer fall from grace that the player has experienced.
Never the less, there is always hope and that hope for Jones could come in the form of a career resurrecting move to Championship outfit Derby County, with the Rams said to be very interested in bringing the experienced stopper to Pride Park.
A loan move would surely be the most likely structure of such a deal for the 28-year-old, with the players wages sure to be significantly higher than what Derby would usually pay a player at their level due to his international appearances in years gone by.
The chance to link up with former teammate Wayne Rooney in the second tier could well sway Jones into taking a plunge into the Championship as it may be the best logical step in order for the player to restore what was a once blossoming reputation in the game after what has been a horror few years for him at Old Trafford.
It’s now or never for a player that is well into his prime years and for that reason he surely has to take Derby’s interest seriously if he is to become even half the player that Sir Alex thought he would become.