Phil Jones at right back should have been consigned to Manchester United's past

Manchester United continued with the 3-5-2 formation which earned them a draw against Liverpool when they faced Partizan Belgrade last night.

But in the second half, Aaron Wan-Bissaka went off as part of a double change, United reverted to a 4-2-3-1 as Phil Jones went to right back.

That was something Sir Alex Ferguson used to do but should have been consigned to United’s history.

Right back stifled Jones’ development

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Ferguson used to use stints at right back to get players like Jones, who was 19 when he moved to Old Trafford in 2011, gametime.


While the theory was that it would make him more versatile – he also used to play in midfield – it actually just hampered his ability to become a specialist centre half.

That’s one of the reasons he hasn’t realised his vast potential and is now something of a figure of fun.

It’s also something Ole Gunnar Solskjaer should be wary of as he shunts Axel Tuanzebe around his defence – he has already played right back, left back and centre back this season.

Jones lacks the pace or mobility to play at full back

Robbie Jay Barratt – AMA/Getty Images

Jones isn’t even at the required level to play centre half for United any more.

He is below Marcos Rojo in the pecking order because he has too many mistakes in him and lacks the ability to keep pace with elite strikers.

Those issues are only exacerbated when he is shunted out wide. His lack of pace is more exposed, he is in a position he is unfamiliar with and he is a poor defender one against one.

It may have only been out of necessity, to protect Wan-Bissaka’s fitness, but Phil Jones as a right back should be consigned to United’s history.

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Sam Preston is an NCTJ gold standard news and sports journalist who studied with the Press Association. He also has a 2:1 law with French law degree from the University of Birmingham, which included a year studying at Bordeaux Montaigne University. He is an FA Level 1 football coach who appeared on the BBC’s Victoria Derbyshire show in 2018 and has also written digital football content and match-day programme pieces for Colchester United, Mansfield Town and Stockport County.