By Tomilayo Alapinni
October 18, 2014
When Manchester United’s former manager, Sir Alex Fergusson wanted to sign a defender who could also double as a defensive midfielder, he made the decision to acquire former Blackburn Rovers starlet, Phil Jones.
This action was what cost the Red Devil’s the opportunity to sign French international, Raphael Varane.
It was widely reported that Varane will move to the Manchester giants in 2011 but later joined the Spanish outfit Real Madrid.
Back then, when the defender was asked why he ignored Manchester United, he exclaimed: “Manchester United? They had just signed Phil Jones in my position.”
In a review of both players’ performances, it is beyond doubts that Manchester United have lost a bigger talent than the one they acquired.
Since Jones came into the team, he had been off and on and has not really claimed a spot for himself in the team.
Until this season, he had either played in the defensive midfield or in the centre-back, and to play the centre-back position, he’d have to displace either of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand and as it panned out, Jones never did.
With the exit of the Vidic and Rio, many tipped Jones to give Evans and Chris Smalling a run for their money but with the incessant injuries that ravaged the defence, not much could be seen of Phil Jones, but Raphael Varane on the other hand had at a point in time displaced Pepe from the Madrid starting line-up although Pepe has now reclaimed his place, the memories of Varane’s exploits is strongly etched into the minds of thousands of football followers.
Similarly, while Jones is still struggling for a place in the English national team, Varane has become a regular team member for the French.
He was very prolific at the recently concluded World Cup in Brazil, and also showed flashes of brilliance when he kept Cristiano Ronaldo under locks and keys when the French national team and their Portuguese counterpart faced off recently in a friendly match in preparation for the forthcoming Euro 2016 competition.
Also the fact that Jose Mourinho who actually signed Varane for the European Champions is still interested in a re-union with the defender at Chelsea and also Manchester United’ continuous interest, goes a long way to show how better the Frenchman has become.
Well, what’s done is done and Sir Alex isn’t a soothsayer. He made a choice based on the information he had at that time and if Jones had turned out better than Varane, it could have been a huge plus for the Old Trafford outfit.