Manchester United fans probably feared the worst when they saw Phil Jones was making his first appearance for 712 days against Wolves on Monday night.
However, the much-maligned 29-year-old was arguably United’s best player at Old Trafford.
While it was a poor team performance from Ralf Rangnick’s side, who slumped to a 1-0 defeat, Jones was superb in the absence of Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly.
Partnering Raphael Varane in central defence, Jones produced a talismanic performance and was unfortunate to find himself on the losing team at the full-time whistle.
In his first game since January 2020, Jones had 60 touches, 90 per cent pass accuracy, won the ball seven times, produced three shots, blocked three shots, and made two clearances and interceptions apiece.
Phil Jones’ game by numbers vs. Wolves:
90% pass accuracy
8 duels contested
7 duels won
7 ball recoveries
3 blocked shots
Played well on his return to the side. 💪 pic.twitter.com/22oYyn1fRpAdvertisement
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 3, 2022
Video: Phil Jones’ highlights vs Wolves
A video of his individual highlights from the game has emerged and it’s very impressive.
Watch it here:
Put some respect on P Jones’ namehttps://t.co/M2LDkGyUjx
— Best of Football (@BestofFootball8) January 4, 2022
Remember: Jones hadn’t played for two years. To produce a performance this good against a tough Wolves side means he fully deserves all the praise that’s coming his way.
Reaction to Phil Jones’ performance vs Wolves
Let’s check out some of the reaction to Jones’ performance on social media:
Luke Shaw praises Phil Jones
Speaking after the game, Luke Shaw also praised his teammate’s performance following several difficult years.
“Phil Jones should be proud of himself, he’s been criticised constantly for a number of years,” the left-back told Sky Sports.
“People [have been] getting at him but he’s stuck by it, he’s so professional and trains so hard. And he got his chance tonight and I think he was phenomenal.
“I think he needs a lot of respect for that tonight because he was out for over a year and this was really his first big game back. And he was exceptional.
“I’m very happy for him for what he’s been through – he’s a really good lad and he deserves it. For Phil Jones: keep going. But as a team we know we need to be better.”
🗣 “He was phenomenal, he needs a lot of respect for that tonight.”
Luke Shaw praises his teammate Phil Jones for his comeback in the Manchester United squad pic.twitter.com/Z9VsHomWh8
— Football Daily (@footballdaily) January 3, 2022
Jones, one of the few United players to emerge from Monday’s match with any credit, was applauded off the pitch at full-time.
He’s certainly given Rangnick some food for thought ahead of next Monday’s FA Cup third round clash against Aston Villa.
Always believe in Phil Jones 🎶 pic.twitter.com/GWrRPfFoC1
— Scott Patterson (@R_o_M) January 3, 2022