In May 2013, Sir Alex Ferguson reserved perhaps the finest piece of praise he has ever spared a player at Manchester United.
Speaking about a certain Phil Jones, a defender he’d signed from Blackburn Rovers, the Scot said: “Jones, arguably the way he is looking, could be our best ever player.”
Now, it’s not every day that Fergie got something so disastrously wrong but his verdict on the centre-back has never been so far from the truth.
Indeed, when he first put pen to paper at Old Trafford, Jones looked like the future of English football.
He was rock-solid at the back and was comfortable with the ball at his feet as the Red Devils won the 2012/13 Premier League title.
Since that moment, not only have United resembled that of a sinking ship, but so has Jones’ career.
Now 30 years of age, it’s safe to say the prime of his career has been wasted due to a number of factors. Not only have a plethora of managers not rated him highly enough, but he has also struggled significantly with injury.
Of course, it is important to stress that something like that is completely out of the player’s hands and we sympathise with Jones enormously for what he’s been through.
All in all, he has suffered from a whopping 22 injuries during his time in the northwest, which has caused him to miss 205 matches. At the same time, he has been on the treatment table for a total of 1,169 days according to Transfermarkt.
The longest of those spells was his most recent problem in 2019/20 as serious knee injury meant he didn’t play for the club from the 26th January 2020 until a 1-0 defeat to Wolves on January 3rd 2022.
The vast majority of his bad luck has been out of his control but the fact of the matter is that even before that lengthy spell away from the playing field, his career was regressing.
Jones has now spent the best part of 562 weeks at Man United following a £16m move from Blackburn and since then, he has cost them a bucket load in wages. In fact, when you total up just what he’s earned and how much they paid for his services, he has cost the Glazers a mind-boggling £60m sum over his ten and a half years in Red.
With that in mind, it’s hardly a surprise that Rio Ferdinand once called him a “waste of time.” They are damning words from anybody, let alone his own former teammate but it sums up his stay at United.
The defender’s contract finally expires in 2023 and then, his nightmare of a stint at the 20-time English champions will, at last, come to an end. It’s fair to say the deal hasn’t really benefited anyone.