There were many people, this scribe included, who thought the makeshift defence David Moyes was forced to field against Bayern Munich at Old Trafford would effectively end Manchester United’s involvement in the Champions League quarter final in the first leg.
As it turned out, the back four of Alex Buttner, Nemanja Vidic, Rio Ferdinand and Phil Jones impressed as United battled to a 1-1 draw that makes life extremely interesting for the Red Devils’ qualification chances.
In tandem, Vidic and Ferdinand were back to their controlling best while Buttner did his utmost to stifle Arjen Robben’s marauding runs at left back.
That the Dutchman, a full-back by trade, was the weak link in that flat back four only further highlights Jones’ superb display on the opposite flank.
A makeshift, although capable right back , the former Blackburn man continued the strong recent form he’s been showing when playing in the heart of United’s defence. As a result, the 4/9 about him making England’s World Cup squad has solidified.
Jones’ versatility – his ability to play as a holding midfielder is a third string to his bow – ensures that he’ll be a name Roy Hodgson utters when announcing his final 23-man party to travel to Rio, but his form means he should be a strong consideration to start.
It’s thought that Gary Cahill and Phil Jagielka, 1/14 and 1/7 shots to travel respectively, are unmovable as England’s first-choice pairing for the nation’s Italy opener, but there’s a definite case for Jones usurping one of them.
Cahill is the type of defender who benefits from playing alongside a more dominant partner, with his stock at Chelsea flourishing thanks to John Terry’s imposing nature. However, when paired with an equal like Jagielka, errors creep in.
Meanwhile the Everton man has only recently returned from an injury layoff and is running out of games to limber himself into full working order. All the while, Jones is going from strength to strength.
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