Fearless Jones the right man for Jose – and now England
VICTOR LINDELOF briefly brought the leafy lane leading up to Manchester United’s training base to a halt on Friday afternoon.
Tens of supporters were waiting at the gates ready to pounce for autographs from their heroes as Lindelof attempted to make his way home.
Dutifully, the £31million signing stopped his black Mercedes and obliged. Those who crowded his wheels left Carrington with selfies and scribbles of a man who is yet to play in the Premier League. Someone who has made only one matchday squad, in fact.
Lindelof was supposed to be the central defensive answer — he surely will still be in the long term — but Jose Mourinho has turned to a man derided for solidity in the interim instead. A very shrewd move indeed.
This is quite the renaissance for Phil Jones. The niggling injuries have disappeared. Three clean sheets for Jones and Eric Bailly suggest Mourinho has got this spot on. It has left Chris Smalling kicking his heels too, but Jones is deserving of the chance.
Yesterday Jamie Vardy found it hard to get any change out of the 25-year-old. A complete contrast to Arsenal a fortnight prior.
Jones is fearless, his reading of the game is exemplary, stepping out of the back four to intercept dangerous situations. Quick feet, too, and calm on the ball. A leader, a good communicator, a fierce competitor.
Little wonder Gareth Southgate has again called him up to the England squad. There is an argument for him starting in Malta on Friday. It would be just his second cap since November 2015 but Jones is the form England central defender right now.