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Ole Gunnar Solskjaer passionately defends Phil Jones after Rio Ferdinand blast

Ferdinand recently claimed Jones was “taking up a youth player’s position” and admitted he was “baffled” by Manchester United’s decision to reward the injury-prone defender a new contract in 2019

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Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has passionately defended Phil Jones after Rio Ferdinand’s criticism.

Ferdinand recently claimed Jones was ‘taking the place of a youth player’ as he recovers from a knee injury, berating the club for rewarding him with a new contract in early 2019.

Although football has stood still to watch Cristiano Ronaldo’s re-signing unfold, Solskjaer leapt to his players’ defence in the same press conference he confirmed that the Red Devils were in for the five-time Ballon d’Or winner.

Jones has spent 10 injury-hit years at the club, last featuring in January 2020 against Tranmere Rovers in the FA Cup third round.

Ferdinand has come in for stick for criticising a man he played alongside in the Red Devils’ rearguard for three seasons, with both playing integral roles as the Premier League title returned to Old Trafford in 2013.

The former United defender had told his FIVE YouTube channel : “He’s taking up a youth team player’s position in that squad right now.



Jones was involved in Man Utd’s pre-season training camp




“He’s had too many injuries… I was in the same team as Phil Jones, he came from Blackburn as a young kid, everyone was saying he was going to be this great player.

Sir Alex Ferguson once said the 29-year-old ‘could be United’s best-ever player’ but injury woes have seen him endure a difficult time since he signed from Blackburn Rovers in 2011.

Ferdinand cotinued: “Huge potential but injuries have absolutely annihilated his career and then confidence issues at certain times as well.

“He’s never been able to fully establish himself in the team. Whether it’s injuries, lack of form, lack of confidence..



Ferdinand and Jones spent three years as teammates
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Image:

Tom Purslow)




“I think he should’ve gone ages ago. He should’ve gone before Chris Smalling went. Find a new club and play some football.”

Jones was awarded a fresh deal in February 2019 after impressing during Solskjaer’s interim spell as manager, when the Red Devils went 11 matches unbeaten but that was seemingly not enough to convince Ferdinand.

“I am baffled at how he’s still been given a new deal at the club given his past few years at the club,” he admitted.

“It just doesn’t make sense to me how you get a new deal.

“I remember back in the day you’d have to do some absolute graft to get a new deal. You’d have to be putting in performances, you’d have to be a vital member of the team.









“Phil Jones isn’t that.”

Solskjaer had clearly heard what his ex-teammate had to say, responding on Friday as he prepares to take his team to Wolverhampton Wanderers this coming Sunday.

“Phil has had a horrible 18-19 months and probably a year before that as well with injuries,” he said. “I think Rio was a bit, not out of order, but a bit unlucky.

“He should have called me and asked why Phil hasn’t played or why Phil hasn’t been here. Phil is a no fuss, get on with it type of guy.

“I think that was out of order completely. I know more than anyone how it feels to be injured at that stage.”



Jones signed a contract extension until 2023 while Solskjaer was interim manager at Man Utd
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Image:

Matthew Peters)




Does Jones still have a future at Man Utd? Give us your verdict here.

The Norwegian noted: “He’s still not 30 years of age. Since I came here he’s battled with this knee injury, he’s put his body on the line, every single training session, every single game. There’s a few times we’ve had to manage him.

“He’s never given anything but given everything for the club. Rio should know more than to go out and say this.”

Solskjaer seemed to have particular sentiment for Jones thanks to his off-the-pitch personality, being a ‘no fuss, proper professional.’

“I’ve wanted to say a lot but I’ve not said a lot about Phil’s injury because I’ve wanted to protect him,” the United manager stated.

“Phil’s never on social media, never asked to do interviews, he just gets his head down, proper, proper professional, no fuss, family man. He just wants to get back fit.









“We managed to get him half an hour against Burnley [a recent behind closed doors friendly], which was the first half an hour against an opponent. He’s played here in training.

“He’s working his way. I was out for two years in a three-year period with a knee injury.”

Solskjaer suffered a length absence in the mid 2000s and ultimately retired early due to knee issues.

Having often referenced his own struggles when discussing Jones’ fitness, the 48-year-old added: “Phil has battled valiantly, I’d say. I know how Phil has felt, you’re embarrassed at times coming in. But he has to look after his career and he’s now getting back to fitness.







“Now is not the time to throw him in. I think you can give him a little bit more, maybe a month, six weeks. Some behind closed doors. He’ll be there,” he stated.

“For me as a manager, to see there’s can be light at the end of the tunnel, it’s great because I’ve been through the same. I think Rio knows, I think he feels a little bit sorry about that one.

“I’ve not spoke to Rio, but I think he should.”

Solskjaer was clearly upset due to the length of his response as he admitted: “Sorry, that was a long one, but I feel Phil deserves that because he’s played here for 10 years and always given everything. Thanks for asking.”




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