Rangnick realises Sir Alex Ferguson dream 10 years later with Man Utd decision
Phil Jones is making his first start for Manchester United in 708 days against Wolves this evening – and his unexpected involvement sees him partner Raphael Varane in defence.
Jones comes into the starting line-up at Old Trafford, with Harry Maguire, Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly all unavailable to Ralf Rangnick.
United captain Maguire and Bailly both picked up injuries in the 3-1 win over Burnley last week, while Lindelof is recovering from Covid-19.
Jones has not featured for United since playing in the FA Cup fourth round tie against Tranmere way back on January 26, 2020.
"I can only judge Phil Jones from the last four weeks and he has always been very professional, very much involved and since all other three centre-backs out, he was the logical choice,” Rangnick explained.
"Harry Maguire received an injury against Burnley and had problems the day after the game. Since last night, we knew all three were out.”
Jones' involvement is a personal milestone for the 29-year-old, who has endured a difficult period due to long-term injury.
It also sees the culmination of one of Sir Alex Ferguson’s wishes from his time as United manager.
Back in the summer of 2011, Ferguson was on the lookout for a new centre-back and eventually signed Jones from Blackburn for £16.5million.
HAVE YOUR SAY! What is Ralf Rangnick's strongest centre-back partnership? Comment below.
But that was only after the legendary manager went to France to try and convince promising young Lens defender Varane to move to Old Trafford.
In the end, Varane opted for Real Madrid after being wooed by Zinedine Zidane.
“Manchester United? They had just signed Phil Jones in my position,” Varane told L’Equipe in 2014.
“My first reaction when Real wanted to sign me was not, ‘Of course I will go’. I only made my decision when I knew that the coach wanted me to play in the first team.”
But Varane’s transfer in the summer and Jones’ recovery from injury sees two players Ferguson coveted come together to face Wolves tonight.
The surprise line-up did not go unnoticed on social media, with many fans commenting on Jones’ return.
“Sir Alex Ferguson can FINALLY see Phil Jones and Raphael Varane. This is what he wanted,” wrote one fan on Twitter.
“A few year ago Varane was polishing his various champions leagues medals now he’s starting alongside Philip Anthony Jones,” added another.
“Seeing Phil Jones alongside Varane is hilarious to me…” said one supporter.
“The year is 2022 and Cristiano Ronaldo is captain for Manchester United while Raphael Varane starts alongside Phil Jones,” wrote one fan.
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“Imagine telling Phil Jones 2 years ago you’ll be playing alongside Varane,” said another.
“Fair play Rangnick bringing Varane back in to learn from Phil Jones,” joked a United fan.
“Jones over Varane, never thought I'd live to see the day,” concluded another, summing up the mood.
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