Jones: I'm so grateful for Solskjaer's support

Thursday 14 October 2021 12:24

Phil Jones has used his compelling UTD Podcast to thank Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for his compassionate man-management, after the boss fiercely defended him during a recent press conference.

Our experienced no.4 had been harshly criticised in some quarters for his long-term injury struggles and a protective Solskjaer was quick to support him when speaking to the media, having been through a similarly chastening experience during the latter stages of his own distinguished playing career. 

Ole heaped praise on Phil’s professionalism and highlighted the Premier League title winner’s determination to return from a knee problem that has kept him out of first-team action since January 2020. 

“Phil has had a horrible 18-19 months and probably a year before that as well with injuries,” said the manager. “Phil is a no fuss, get-on-with-it type of guy. I know more than anyone how it feels to be injured at that stage. He’s still not 30 years of age. Since I came here, he’s battled with this knee injury, he’s put his body on the line, every single training session, every single game. There are a few times we’ve had to manage him. He’s never done anything but given everything for the club.”
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Jones has been training diligently at Carrington in recent months, often arriving before all his team-mates to ensure he is ready for the sessions and doing everything he can to stay fit. He has also played in a series of behind-closed-doors and Under-23 fixtures on his road to recovery, and was on the bench for the Carabao Cup clash with West Ham United. 

In his UTD Podcast, when asked about Solskjaer’s press conference comments, the England international says: “Yeah, that was really nice. I spoke to him after and said ‘thank you for the words’, because it meant a lot. It really did because there’s nothing [that means] more [as] a footballer, for someone, managers, staff, coaches, players, to have your back. To feel really supported by him was a nice feeling. At the time, I needed that and it was nice.”

Jones also credits Solskjaer for the work that he has done in progressing the club since he returned, initially as caretaker manager, in December 2018, both on and off the pitch. “I think it was exactly what we needed at the time, someone who knew the club,” explains Phil. 

“He knew it inside out, won so many things, so that was important. Until the end of that season, it was just about enjoying playing football again. I think we lost enjoying playing, going onto the pitch on Saturdays, Sundays, Wednesday nights, whenever it was.

“He definitely brought that back, the lads were smiling, the lads were happy.  I’m not saying it wasn’t like that under Jose at all but I’m saying that different styles, managers have different impacts and yeah, he was great. He’s done so well to stamp his authority on the team and get the team to where we are now.”

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Phil has now been at United for over 10 years and, during his time, his former team-mates Michael Carrick and Darren Fletcher have become important members of the manager’s staff. The defender believes both men have made a big impression on the squad, along with Kieran McKenna and Mike Phelan.  

“It’s been good,” he tells co-hosts Helen Evans and Sam Homewood. “Carras has obviously been there since Jose took over, he was a coach there. They’ve all got ideas which they’ve learned over their time at United. You see some of the drills we used to do, some of the new drills, they’ve got so much experience and so much to give. You can see that on the pitch, they’re great with the lads and the young lads coming through. They’re a massive part of the team.”

Listen to our UTD Podcast with Phil Jones in the app, or via your favourite podcast platforms.

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