Manchester United’s Phil Jones insists that he and defensive partner Chris Smalling have defied their critics in recent weeks.
The England duo have impressed in United’s last two Premier League fixtures – victories over Tottenham and Liverpool respectively that have put UEFA Champions League qualification well within the Red Devils’ grasp.
And the 23-year-old centre back, who has also been used as an auxiliary full back and even set-piece specialist by Louis van Gaal so far this campaign, is confident the side will continue to improve.
“You are always going to get critics but we have proved people wrong,” Jones, who cost United £16million when he arrived from Blackburn Rovers back in 2011, said.
“People can assume and predict and it’s up to us to prove we’re good enough.
“Critics spur you on. We’re at a massive club and if things aren’t going as well as they should be there are always going to be people having a dig.
“You just have to take it on the chin. It’s water off a duck’s back for us and if we carry on to produce performances like this week and last then I’m sure we’ll be fine.”
Both Jones and Smalling have had stuttering careers at Old Trafford so far, with neither able to maintain a position in the side playing in their preferred central berths.
However, since Van Gaal switched from a three-man backline to a more traditional back four, the pair have looked solid and composed and finally look ready to fulfil their potential.
“It had been well documented that me and Chris were going to be the next centre-backs at United but it hasn’t worked out like that,” said Jones, who along with Smalling has retained his place in Roy Hodgson’s latest England squad.
“But it got mentioned the other day that me and Chris have only played along side each other about four or five times in four seasons.
“You can’t build a partnership without game time. Hopefully now we’ve played together in back-to-back games and done well we can keep it together.
“We compliment each other well, so hopefully we can carry it on and make it work for United, and even England.”
Main image courtesy of England Football Official via YouTube, with thanks.