Phil Jones was embarrassed by Giorgio Chiellini for Italy's goal against England in last night's international friendly in Turin, according to former Three Lions star Martin Keown, who insinuated that the Manchester United defender has failed to live up to expectations during his time at Old Trafford.
The Red Devils ace was criticised for his performance in Tuesday's 1-1 draw after being deployed by Roy Hodgson in an unfamiliar defensive midfield role, whereby his shortcomings were made increasingly apparent, at least in the eyes of the Arsenal legend.
"Phil Jones played as a deep-lying midfielder, but it didn’t feel like a midfielder’s performance," reflected Keown in his column for the Daily Mail. "He was embarrassed by Giorgio Chiellini for their goal, and he was lucky to get away with losing his man at the previous set-piece.
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"When England were in possession, he didn’t work hard enough to get on the ball — he was happy to let Chris Smalling bring the ball out.
"Out of possession, he often flew out in an attempt to deal with the danger. This is fine when he wins the ball, but a very risky tactic."
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Keown did acknowledge that Jones's preferred position would be playing in central defence, a role he was able to revert back to following the first half withdrawal of Old Trafford team-mate Chris Smalling, going on to partner Phil Jagielka in the heart of England's back four.
"In fairness, he dropped back nicely in between the centre halves regularly, which is clearly what he feels comfortable doing," he added. "The main problem is that he has a habit of chasing the ball when he can’t win it.
"He looks like he’s been fired out of a cannon! He’ll need to assess situations better and hold his position in front of the back four."
However, it's clear that the retired Gunners favourite still needs to be won over by the Blackburn Rovers academy product following an underwhelming first few years at the Theatre of Dreams, suggesting that former Manchester United manager Sir Alex Ferguson might have made a rare mistake with his prediction for the centre-back.
"Sir Alex Ferguson famously labelled Jones the next Duncan Edwards, but he didn’t look very Edwards-like. At 23, it feels like we’re still trying to figure out his best position.
"He is being asked to play a role that needs to be filled by a more technically-proficient player — like Andrea Pirlo."
"Sir Alex Ferguson famously labelled Jones the next Duncan Edwards, but he didn’t look very Edwards-like," - Martin Keown
Under Louis van Gaal the Three Lions man has shown some signs of improvement, particularly when given a regular run of matches in his favoured central defensive position. But, Jones does have big shoes to fill following the break up of Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic's legendary Red Devils partnership last summer.
Do Jones and Smalling have what it takes to succeed at the elite level for both club and country? Keown is certainly still waiting for the evidence after another lacklustre display yesterday evening, which was brightened up only slightly by the fine solo goal scored by Andros Townsend to ensure England a share of the spoils.
Manchester United fans: What do you make of Martin Keown's criticism of Phil Jones? Share your thoughts in the comment box below...
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