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Report: Phil Jones turned down Manchester United testimonial

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According to a report by Daniel Taylor of The Athletic, Phil Jones has turned down the option for a Manchester United testimonial despite the likelihood he will reach the required 10 years at the club.

Taylor’s article waxed lyrical about Jones’ ability on the field defensively versus his fame as an internet sensation, but one tidbit near the top stood out. According to the report, Jones turned down the option to have a testimonial included in his recent contract extension, believing that his popularity has waned to the point where he may not deserve one.

Jones’ career has been a fascinating one, owning 220 Manchester United appearances across all competitions since joining from Blackburn Rovers in 2011. He has won a Premier League title, an FA Cup, a League Cup, and a Europa League title.

Still, with the majority of his Red Devils career coming after the departure of Sir Alex Ferguson, he has become more of a symbol to represent the mediocrity the club has been mired in since. He has made more than 22 league appearances in just two of his eight full seasons to date and made his first appearance of the current campaign against Sheffield United over the weekend, yanked at halftime after being culpable of the first Blades goal, scenes that left Jones “devastated” according to the Taylor report.

Taylor says that when asked about a testimonial, Jones would reply, “Apart from my mum and dad, who else would turn up?”

For a player who has spent nearly his entire career with one of the largest clubs in Europe, this remains a tough story to swallow. It’s hard not to feel for a player who gives his heart and soul to a club and gets nothing but laughs in return.

Blades, Red Devils engage in thrilling 3-3 draw

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A match with almost everything saw Sheffield United throw aside a 2-0 lead but rally for a 3-3 draw with Manchester United at Bramall Lane on Sunday.

Oli McBurnie’s stoppage time goal withstood VAR review, joining a great performance from Lys Mousset in helping the Blades to another memorable result in their return to the Premier League.

[ MORE: Watch full PL match replays ]

Manchester United manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer made the changes that mattered at halftime, as his Red Devils rallied for the point.

The feckless first half Red Devils turned into a force through three second half goals from 19-year-old Brandon Williams, 18-year-old Mason Greenwood, and relatively ancient 22-year-old Marcus Rashford, who also recorded an assist.

Sheffield United moves into sixth place with 18 points, a point and three places above their visitors.


Three things we learned

1. Three kids give hope after Ole fixes formation: Brandon Williams scored his first senior goal for United with a quivering rocket in the 73rd minute. Daniel James was industrious all day if a bit sloppy, and helped set up the goal with a move down the right before Williams pounced on a ball at the back post. The behind the goal angle was sensational, showing a ball with only one destination.

Then Greenwood got on the end of a Rashford cross, one that Phil Jagiela was too slow to poke, as the Red Devils claimed an equalizer with 13 minutes to play. Greenwood turned 18 on Oct. 1, and Williams 19 on Sept. 3.

The subs fit in nicely, but the victory also came about after manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer had the humility to change his miserable, porous first half game plan. Phil Jones was removed as the side went from something of a 3-4-2-1 to a 4-2-3-1. The payoff took 20 minutes to really arrived, but then it just kept coming until the Red Devils were in front.

2. Mousset, Blades cut through United’s miserable back line: David De Gea was standing on his head from moment one, as the Red Devils continuously got worked. And after the Red Devils took the lead, the back line gave it away.

Lys Mousset’s new lease on life continued to work wonders, as he destroyed Phil Jones en route to setting up the first goal and then cut into a danger area to slot a 22-yard shot past De Gea early in the second half.

I mean, this is staggering stuff.

3. David De Gea keeps gauze on a deep wound: While United was getting run off the pitch — really this could’ve been 3 or 4-0 at halftime — its Spanish keeper was his best self, making a number of phenomenal saves and commanding his area. Without him, the second half outcome isn’t remotely possible.

Man of the Match: Marcus Rashford might just be coming into his own. The English striker has shown himself quite the passer of late, and there are plenty of reasons to think he’s starting to fulfill his potential. Rashford has 10 goals and 4 assists in 18 matches across all competitions.


David De Gea made two incredible saves in the 11th minute, the second an acrobatic palming of David McGoldrick‘s header.

The Blades also had a pair of penalty shouts in the first quarter hour, both unheard.

Lys Mousset was lively, and bodied Phil Jones to set up John Lundstram for a chance well-saved by De Gea only to see another John, Fleck, pop the rebound inside the far post.

McGoldrick kept coming in a bid for the second, drilling a ball to De Gea.

Manchester United had some moments in counter attack, but overall everyone short of Fred an De Gea were extremely sloppy.

[ VIDEO: Premier League highlights ]

The Red Devils snapped to life at halftime, with Rashford using a couple deft moves to create space for a swirling shot over the frame in the 48th.

Mousset made it 2-0 when a run dragged Harry Maguire away from the Frenchman’s dribble, allowing the players to tear into a shot from 22 yards.

Manchester United got one back in the 73rd through Williams’ vicious finish, and the wall was broken down. Greenwood got to Rashford’s cross to make it 2-2, and Rashford reaped the rewards of Anthony Martial and James’ playmaking to make it 3-2.

McBurnie then settled a cross calmly, somehow avoiding a handball before smashing home for a stoppage time equalizer.

One area where Mourinho was right: Man Utd badly needs center backs

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Big Manchester United wins and losses, especially post-Alex Ferguson, have a tendency to get overstated at both ends of the spectrum, but there’s plenty to take away from Ole Gunnar Solskjaer‘s recent struggles at the helm of the Red Devils.

[ MORE: Recap | Solskjaer reacts ]

For one thing: Jose Mourinho wasn’t right about much this Manchester United season, but he knew he needed better men in the back.

Everton’s beautiful opener in the first half of Sunday’s 4-0 pummeling of the Red Devils may tempt some to wash over the defending, but heading below the surface shows more problems.

The opener saw Richarlison score a terrific overhead kick after Dominic Calvert-Lewin flick a Lucas Digne throw-in to the back post. Beautiful, for sure, but Smalling never gets up to thwart Calvert-Lewin’s powerful jump.

Now that’s certainly just one example, but United’s slide is a feature of a few things.

Nineteen goals conceded in 17 PL matches is a clear upgrade from the 29 in 17 under Mourinho, and let’s not pretend United hasn’t been better with Solskjaer at the proverbial wheel.

Throw in a very average season from David De Gea — which in his case is far below standards — and it’s not a surprise that United is flailing away from the Top Four. The Alexis Sanchez move has been poor, Romelu Lukaku‘s form has dipped save back-to-back braces against a pair of unremarkable defenses, and Paul Pogba remains mercurial. He’s a monster of the midfield at his best, and a drifting object in the wind at his worst.

There’s a comparison to made with where Liverpool was under Brendan Rodgers somewhere, a legendary club not quite sure of how to fit its standard to its standing. Marcus Rashford needs room to grow, not constant comparison to Romelu Lukaku. There are a lot of extra pieces in the squad, the guys you like as a luxury for a great team but are either too old or too green to be reliable.

Of center backs to play in 10 or more Premier League matches this season, Phil Jones ranks 16th, Chris Smalling is 38th, and Victor Lindelof is 44th. Only 57 are ranked. Advanced stats aren’t foolproof, but they help (Jones and little-used Eric Bailly, for what it’s worth, were well-rated last season).

The club needs a big rebuild, to be sure. De Gea is a suitable goalkeeper for a team with top end ambitions, and we know that Lukaku and Pogba at their best can dominate (whether either is capable of doing it consistently under anyone is a debate).

But really, perhaps De Gea’s amazing 2017-18 and Mourinho’s defense-first system papered over something that’s been evident for some time. There’s neither a Aymeric Laporte or Toby Alderweireld at United, let alone a Virgil Van Dijk.

Phil Jones signs new contract at Man United

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Phil Jones has signed a new contract at Manchester United, so we can look forward to seeing more of his wonderfully weird faces as he throws himself into the thick of the action.

Jones, 26, has extended his stay at Old Trafford until the summer of 2023 with an option to extend it for another year, as he has finally shaken off his lengthy battle with injuries and has become a regular under caretaker manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.

United’s caretaker boss has now seen Anthony Martial and Jones sign new deals, as his impact at the club is clearly leading to players committing their future to United.

Speaking about his deal, Jones was delighted to remain at United and try and add to the Premier League, Europa League and FA Cup titles he has won at the club.

“I am delighted to have signed a new contract. Manchester United has been a big part of my life for eight years and I love everything about this club,” Jones said. “I am excited about the challenges that lie ahead of us as we prepare for a very busy period in the season. I would like to thank Ole and the coaching staff for their continued support in my development.”

If Jones can stay fit, there’s no doubting that he will be a key defensive player for United. It is also hard to believe he’s only 26 years old, as he’s now played in the Premier League for the last nine years since bursting onto the scene at Blackburn Rovers then moving to United.

Jones and Chris Smalling have been scapegoats in the post-Sir Alex Ferguson era at United, and in many cases you can understand why with some high-profile mistakes.

But with Eric Bailly being linked with a move away, locking up Jones and Chris Smalling (he signed a new deal in 2018) to long-term deals makes sense at least to keep some defensive cover at the club. Victor Lindelof has been superb in recent months and although Jose Mourinho made it clear he wanted to add new center backs and didn’t do so, the defenders United have aren’t as bad as some would suggest.

Jones’ penchant for own goals, heading the ball while laying on the floor and making strange faces are the gifts that keep on giving.

United will hope he can now stay fit and kick on after several injury-hit seasons saw him lose his place as an England international.

Man United sleepwalk in Valencia loss

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  • Soler beats Romero for opener
  • Jones scores ghastly own goal
  • Rashford pulls one back

Manchester United wasted a chance to win its Champions League group by falling 2-1 to Valencia at the Mestalla Stadium on Wednesday.

Marcus Rashford‘s 87th minute goal was all United could muster in the loss.

Young Boys stunned Juventus in Switzerland to open the door for Jose Mourinho’s men, but a Carlos Soler low drive and a Phil Jones own goal were United’s undoing.

[ MORE: Champions League standings ]

Antonio Valencia was extremely fortunate not to be sent off for a horrible studs-up tackle on Toni Lato that left the defender requiring medical attention for a gash.

Valencia, the club, scored through Soler’s low drive through traffic, which beat Sergio Romero.

The Spanish side missed two chances to make it 2-0, with Michy Batshuayi mis-hitting a terrific Cristiano Piccini cross and Geoffrey Kondogbia stymied by Marouane Fellaini‘s marking.

Pogba missed a straight-forward chance to level the score when Fellaini pounded a header into his path, but the French star hit the ball wide of the gaping frame from inside the six.

[ MORE: Full lineups, stats, box score ]

Michy Batshuayi ran alongside Phil Jones, and the English defender slid to push a perfect shot… past his own goalkeeper, David De Gea.