West Brom 0 Manchester United 3: Phil Jones hopes United have turned a corner and admits they must win every 'massive' game
Premier League holders are in serious danger of failing to qualify for the Champions League and Jones feels they must win every match left to give themselves a fighting chance
Monday 10 March 2014
England defender Phil Jones is hoping that Manchester United have turned a corner in their difficult season after scoring in the 3-0 Premier League victory over West Brom, with Jones making a rare outing at centre-back.
Having struggled for consistent form this season under David Moyes, United produced a good response to recent criticism that their season was ending in front of their eyes, although they still face a stiff challenge to reach the top four and qualify for next season’s Champions League.
Moyes’ side arrived at the Hawthorns off the back of a 2-0 defeat to Olympiakos in Europe, but bounced back to give United fans hope that their season can be salvaged thanks to goals from Jones, Wayne Rooney and Danny Welbeck.
United have struggled since the turn of the year, registering just five victories in 13 matches which has also seen them crash out of both domestic cups and face an uphill battle in the Champions League last-16 second leg tie next week.
The Red Devils’ manager has stressed the importance that they must now take maximum points in each of their remaining 10 league matches, and Jones agrees that they are up against it to perform week-in-week-out but it has become a necessity given their position.
“Every game is massive for us now,” said the centre-back. “It's got to be the mentality now for the rest of the season, there's no two ways about it.
“Hopefully we've turned the corner but it's game by game for now. The fans expect us to win every week and so do we, so it's been difficult.
“I think the players and the staff have been surprised by how difficult this season has been. But when you pick up results like this it's nice.”
The victory also represented the first time this season that Jones has partnered Chris Smalling at the back. United’s troubles can be identified at centre-back this season, as Moyes has deployed a staggering eight partnerships as he searches for a pairing he can trust to marshal the back line.
Jones and Smalling could well go on to cement down starting berths, especially with Nemanja Vidic on the move to Inter Milan at the end of the season and Rio Ferdinand likely to follow him out of the Old Trafford exit.
It’s something that the 22-year-old would welcome, having been deployed at both right-back and in midfield in a holding role in recent times.
“It's great,” said Jones. “I enjoy playing at centre-half and, thankfully, I got the chance. It was nice to get the win and a clean sheet is a bonus.
“I enjoy playing with Chris. We haven't played that many times together but the more we play, the better our understanding will be and the better our performances will be.”
Jones is not the only one who feels the team have backed themselves into a position where they must produce a result in every match, as Rafael feels that three points is a must in each of their remaining games.
“We need to win every game now,” said Rafael. “We can't play to draw. We've the Liverpool game next, we're 2-0 down to Olympiakos. We have to attack and show everyone our real qualities.
“Sometimes you know you can get away with drawing the odd one but at this point we have to win every game.
“Against West Brom we showed how we have to play in the other games. We played like a team, with everyone fighting for each other.
“Every player here knew things had to change. We know we haven't played well this season but if we play like we did at West Brom we'll have a chance.”
A strong run of matches could help Jones cement his place not only in the United side, but also Roy Hodgson’s England side ahead of this summer’s World Cup in Brazil, while Rafael faces a difficult task in returning to the Brazil set-up having not featured since 2012 as the 23-year-old sits behind Dani Alves, Rafinha and Danilo in the pecking order.
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