Manchester United fans believe that Sir Alex Ferguson should use Phil Jones to step into the gap left behind in defence by the injured Nemanja Vidic, according to an exclusive GiveMeFootball survey of over 12,000 United fans.
Vidic’s knee ligament injury that ruled him out for the rest of the season rounded off a woeful night for the Red Devils on Wednesday as they were sent crashing out of the Champions League thanks to a 2-1 defeat at the hands of Basel.
Now with the big Serb out of action for some time United fans have implored Ferguson to move Phil Jones back to his natural position of centre-back from, with a whopping 77% of people saying the England international is the right man to help United recover from their European disaster.
Jones has impressed since making a £16 million switch from Blackburn over the summer, but has been played away from his natural position for both club and country in recent weeks.
Ferguson’s desire to develop Jones into a midfield playmaker appears to have irked some fans who want to see the talented youngster playing in his natural role at the heart of defence now that Vidic is out of action.
United’s problems in midfield have stacked up in recent weeks as Tom Cleverley was joined on the sidelines by Anderson, meaning Jones was deployed alongside Ryan Giggs in the centre of midfield for the defeat against Basel.
While fans favour Jones being moved backwards, Chris Smalling’s reputation appears to have taken something of a hit after his poor showing against Basel, and although he came second in the poll he was trailing far behind Jones, taking just 9% of the vote.
The much-maligned Jonny Evans was narrowly beaten into third by Smalling, with the Northern Irishman taking 8.3% of the votes.
Ferguson spoke last week of his reluctance to dip into the transfer market for reinforcements and is unlikely to scour the market for a replacement for Vidic, a fact that is reflected in United fan’s favouring players already at the club rather than bringing a new face in.
Gary Cahill should be on his way out of Bolton this winter, with Tottenham and Chelsea both vying for his affections, but only 2% of fans polled want to see him pull on a United shirt.
The in-demand Ajax defender Jan Vertonghen, courted by both Barcelona and Tottenham, was similarly spurned by the United faithful, with the Ajax captain polling just 2% of the votes.