Over the last few seasons, United have dearly missed a presence in the middle, a daunting warrior waving the devil's standard, standing firm ahead of the back four, a central defensive midfielder.

Since the unceremonious departure of Roy Keane nobody has quite managed to put in a stamping performance like he did against Juventus. Darren Fletcher had on occasions looked like an answer but has been dodged by unfortunate bowel conditions. Owen Hargreaves had all the ingredients but no fortune with his matchsticks legs costing United well over £1m for every game played. How United missed a player in such a mould during there twin Champions Leauge finals against Barcelona, where a rock in the middle would have put a halt on the advances of Andres Iniesta and Xavi.

Even now United lack protection at the back, the problem only curtained by plethora of goals raining in the right end. But during the past couple of weeks it feels as if a player is the bricks and mortar to be the kind of wall they need. The player is Phil Jones.

Jones has bolstered his credentials for the big England role ahead of the 2014 World Cup and vindicated his hefty price tag with a series of stellar performances, notably against Cristiano Ronaldo in the first leg of the Champions League.

Ever since his arrival, he has proved to be a tricky piece of jigsaw for Ferguson to deploy in his puzzle. He has tried playing at right-back and centre-back but finally seems to have found the right slot for himself, being deployed as a destroyer. He has the build to muscle his way through, the pace to force out the wingers and track them down as he evidently did against Ronaldo at the Bernabeu.

Jones must improve his reading of the game to better track the movements and intercept passes. Also he must improve his vision to become a threat on the offensive.

Such a player is indispensable in Europe where teams fairly unfamiliar with different styles adopt a more cautious approach. Barcelona have Javier Machcherano, Sergio Busquets and Alex Song, Real Madrid have Sami Khedira and Michael Essien and now maybe United will have a name to pitch in such a league?


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