Manchester United’s surprise transfer deal of the summer came when we paid £16m for Blackburn’s Phil Jones. With plenty of other clubs circling, Sir Alex Ferguson decided now was the time to buy him, even if the original plan was probably to wait another year or two.

Ferguson has revealed that United have been watching Jones since he was in Blackburn’s youth team, before Sam Allardyce gave him his first team debut.

“Big Sam said we stole him,” said Ferguson. “I was ahead of the game and recognised Phil when he played against us in Blackburn’s youth team a couple of years ago and was absolutely magnificent. I spoke to Sam the next day and he just laughed and said he was putting him in the first team.”

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