Hatred for Manchester United has driven team on after difficult start to the season, reveals Phil Jones

People want us to lose because we have won the league so much

The Manchester United defender Phil Jones has said that his team-mates have been motivated by the relish with which rivals have greeted their indifferent start to the season, claiming that many in the Premier League want the defending champions to fail.

Jones was excellent for United in their 1-0 victory over Arsenal on Sunday, both in midfield before the break and then as a replacement for Nemanja Vidic in the centre of defence in the second half. He was cut above the eye during the game but is expected to report today to join up with Roy Hodgson’s England squad at St George’s Park for the friendlies against Chile and Germany.

“People want us to fail because we have won the league so many times,” Jones said. “United won the league long before I was here. Everyone hates the best clubs, it is as simple as that. We enjoy that. We relish the test thrown at us week in, week out.

“It proves when people doubt us we are more than capable of standing up for ourselves and proving to people that is why we were champions last season. We weren’t champions for nothing. We thoroughly deserved all the points we got last season. This is a step in the right direction, going into a busy period.

“It would have been difficult [to have won the league had they lost to Arsenal], but look at the season before last when we were a long way clear of Manchester City. They turned it around. Anything is possible in football. You could never write us off. But full credit to the lads. Everyone put in a shift and dug deep. We thoroughly deserved the three points.

“The gaffer [David Moyes] set us up in a certain shape all week. He went round individual players and prepared us really well. It has shown that has worked.”

It is a curious feature of Jones’ international career that, in eight caps, for only six of the 490 minutes he has spent on the pitch has he played at centre-back – the position originally regarded as his best. At Old Trafford on Sunday it will have been his second-half performance in particular that caught the watching Hodgson’s eye.

Jones has played there once for England, six minutes at the end of the friendly against Scotland in August as a replacement for Phil Jagielka. Previously he had featured as a right-back, most notably on his debut against Montenegro in the Euro 2012 qualifier in Podgorica in October 2011 and against Norway in one of the warm-up games for a tournament at which he did not figure.

Otherwise he has been shunted around the midfield, although he has played there in some big games for England. He was in the team for the wins over Spain and Sweden two years ago and then again in the draw against Brazil in the Maracana in June. In his two other substitute’s performances, against the Netherlands last year and the Republic of Ireland in May, he has come on at right-back.

Yet Moyes has chosen to play him at centre-half this season: against Liverpool in the Capital One Cup, Real Sociedad in the Champions League and Sunderland, Stoke City and Southampton in the Premier League. It begs the question whether the England manager will be tempted to see whether Jones is worth a run in the centre of defence in the two forthcoming friendlies against Chile on Friday and Germany four days later.

Hodgson has picked nine defenders, five of whom are specialist full-backs and two of whom – Gary Cahill and Jagielka – are centre-halves. The final two are Chris Smalling and Jones, suggesting that the latter may get some more time in central defence.

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?

Bleacher Report

Daily Quiz
SPONSORED FEATURES
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

Migrant crisis: UN official Philippe Douste-Blazy reveals the harrowing sights he encountered among refugees arriving on Lampedusa

‘Can we really just turn away?’

Dead bodies, men drowning, women miscarrying – a senior UN figure on the horrors he has witnessed among migrants arriving on Lampedusa, and urges politicians not to underestimate our caring nature
Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger as Isis ravages centuries of history

Nine of Syria and Iraq's 10 world heritage sites are in danger...

... and not just because of Isis vandalism
Girl on a Plane: An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack

Girl on a Plane

An exclusive extract of the novelisation inspired by the 1970 Palestinian fighters hijack
Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

Why Frederick Forsyth's spying days could spell disaster for today's journalists

The author of 'The Day of the Jackal' has revealed he spied for MI6 while a foreign correspondent
Markus Persson: If being that rich is so bad, why not just give it all away?

That's a bit rich

The billionaire inventor of computer game Minecraft says he is bored, lonely and isolated by his vast wealth. If it’s that bad, says Simon Kelner, why not just give it all away?
Euro 2016: Chris Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Coleman on course to end half a century of hurt for Wales

Wales last qualified for major tournament in 1958 but after several near misses the current crop can book place at Euro 2016 and end all the indifference
Rugby World Cup 2015: The tournament's forgotten XV

Forgotten XV of the rugby World Cup

Now the squads are out, Chris Hewett picks a side of stars who missed the cut
A groundbreaking study of 'Britain's Atlantis' long buried at the bottom of the North Sea could revolutionise how we see our prehistoric past

Britain's Atlantis

Scientific study beneath North Sea could revolutionise how we see the past
The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember,' says Starkey

The Queen has 'done and said nothing that anybody will remember'

David Starkey's assessment
Oliver Sacks said his life has been 'an enormous privilege and adventure'

'An enormous privilege and adventure'

Oliver Sacks writing about his life
'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

'Gibraltar is British, and it is going to stay British forever'

The Rock's Chief Minister hits back at Spanish government's 'lies'
Britain is still addicted to 'dirty coal'

Britain still addicted to 'dirty' coal

Biggest energy suppliers are more dependent on fossil fuel than a decade ago
Orthorexia nervosa: How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition

Orthorexia nervosa

How becoming obsessed with healthy eating can lead to malnutrition
Lady Chatterley is not obscene, says TV director

Lady Chatterley’s Lover

Director Jed Mercurio on why DH Lawrence's novel 'is not an obscene story'
Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests

Set a pest to catch a pest

Farmers in tropical forests are training ants to kill off bigger pests