Rio Ferdinand has lauded Phil Jones’ comeback performance in Man Utd’s 1-0 defeat to Wolves as “class”.
The 29-year-old appeared in the Premier League for the first time in over 700 days and he produced a commendable showing as the Red Devils suffered their first defeat under Ralf Rangnick.
Harry Maguire picked up an injury in the club’s 3-1 win over Burnley last week, opening the door for Jones to make a surprise start alongside Raphael Varane, his first league outing since January 2020.
It was an assured performance from Jones as Joao Moutinho’s late strike punished an otherwise disjointed Man Utd showing, with a lack of cohesion up front proving a notable source of concern for the club.
Despite boasting the likes of Cristiano Ronaldo, Jadon Sancho, Marcus Rashford and Mason Greenwood among others, Man Utd have scored more than once in only one of Rangnick’s six games in charge — last week’s 3-1 win against Burnley.
There were some positives, though, chiefly Jones’ reassuring display, with former centre-back Ferdinand — who urged the 27-capped England international to find a new club in the summer — in full complimentary mood of the defender.
“They’re playing him maybe to put him in the shop window, first and foremost, but if he plays well enough the manager might change his mind. That can happen in football very quickly.
“I’m just pleased he got through the game unscathed, no injuries. He put in a decent performance after such a long time out, not easy to do. So you’ve got to tilt your hat to Phil Jones.
“He’s come in for a lot of stick, a lot of my words have been misinterpreted a little bit.
Phil Jones’ first half by numbers vs. Wolves:
100% duels won
96% pass accuracy
4 ball recoveries
3 blocks (most)
2 interceptions (=most)
Putting his body on the line. 💪 pic.twitter.com/jOU8KHDBzk
— Squawka Football (@Squawka) January 3, 2022
“But you’ve got to say, ‘well done’ in terms of the amount of time he’s been off the pitch, to come in and play in the Premier League and play at the standard he did today.
“Albeit, his header was the one that fell to Moutinho’s foot before he scored but I thought he was class for long periods in the game.”