Phil Jones has spoken out today about the gruelling time he has endured with injuries over the past few months. What has hurt him the most is when former teammate Rio Ferdinand claimed he was a “waste of time” who was “taking up a youth player’s position” and that he was “baffled” the club had offered him a new contract.
Ole Gunnar Solskjaer hit back at the time, empathising with Jones’ situation because of the injuries he suffered during his career, and calling Rio out for his hurtful comments.
“Phil has had a horrible 18-19 months and probably a year before that as well with injuries,” Solskjaer said at a press conference. “Phil is a no fuss, get on with it type of guy. I think that was out of order completely. 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, put his body on the line… he’s never done anything but give everything for the club. I was out for two years in a three-year period with a knee injury. Phil has battled valiantly… He’ll be there. For me as a manager, to see that he can see light at the end of the tunnel is great because I’ve been through the same.”
Ferdinand later acknowledged he didn’t know the full story of Jones’ injury hell and apologised.
“The one area where I would apologise to Phil Jones and anyone at Manchester United who has been a part of his journey,” he said. “From speaking to people behind the scenes last week, he’s had real issues with injuries. To the extent that Bruno Fernandes only trained with him for the first time last week – so that tells you how long he’s been injured. So I didn’t know that, that’s not been communicated to the public. So from that stand point, for someone who’s been injured, knowing what that does to you from a mental point of view, I hold my hands up and I apologise.“
Jones has had his say today, in an interview with The Times, where he hits back at the people who have been criticising him.
Listen, the respect I’ve got is enormous. I’ve shared a dressing room with Rio — great professional. Loved playing with him. Great lad, good humour. Learnt so much off him. But what he said was poor. Really poor. I’m not into disputes, not into arguments, and if he didn’t know, he didn’t know. Look, I’m private, so maybe people don’t understand me, but that’s the total opposite to how I am. I’ve done my absolute utmost. From tablets, to my diet, to setting up my house so that every time I get back from training I’m sitting in recovery boots and have my ice machine ready. Nobody can say, ‘You didn’t do enough.’ I’ll fight for United until someone tells me, ‘Go somewhere else.’
It’s not just Rio who’s had a pop at Jones, but people in the street when he’s out with his family, and “keyboard warriors” on social media.
I must be an easy target. Every footballer has a tag and unfortunately mine is, ‘Let’s have a laugh at him.’ But — and I say this in the nicest possible way — I know who’ll have the last laugh. I’m proud of my career and when it finishes and I’m enjoying my life — and by the way I’m super fortunate that I’ll be able to do that, because footballers are fortunate — [the keyboard warriors] will still be in their mum’s spare bedroom, sipping Diet Pepsi that’s flat, eating a Pot Noodle, sitting in their boxers, tweeting.