Ole Gunnar Solskjaer says Rio Ferdinand should have called him for an explanation about Phil Jones’ situation rather than going public with his ‘out of order’ criticism of the Manchester United defender.
Jones, 29, once tipped as a future club legend by Sir Alex Ferguson, has endured a miserable few years due to a string of separate injuries and made just eight appearances in all competitions for the Red Devils last term.
And while the out-of-favour England international played a role in United’s pre-season games, he is yet to feature in either of the club’s Premier League openers against Leeds and Southampton and it is not expected to return to the fold at Wolves this weekend.
Speaking after United’s 1-1 draw St Mary’s, Ferdinand labelled Jones ‘a waste of time’ and encouraged the rest of the squad to ignore the injury-prone centre-back as he feels he has effectively been blocking the path of academy prospects.
‘He’s taking up a youth team player’s position in that squad right now,’ the ex-United and England defender told Vibe with FIVE.
‘He’s had too many injuries… I was in the same team as Phil Jones, he came from Blackburn as a young kid, everyone was saying he was going to be this great player. Huge potential but injuries have absolutely annihilated his career and then confidence issues at certain times as well.
‘He’s never been able to fully establish himself in the team. Whether it’s injuries, lack of form, lack of confidence.
‘I think he should’ve gone ages ago. He should’ve gone before Chris Smalling went. Find a new club and play some football. He’s lacked consistency throughout his career at Man United. That’s a fact, for all the reasons I stated before.
‘I am baffled at how he’s still been given a new deal at the club given his past few years at the club. It just doesn’t make sense to me how you get a new deal.
‘I remember back in the day you’d have to do some absolute graft to get a new deal. You’d have to be putting in performances, you’d have to be a vital member of the team. Phil Jones isn’t that.
‘He’s done well. Listen, good luck to him if you can get it. Staying at Man United is a great gig, but I look at him as a person, are you really going to be happy sitting there all these years?
‘To be fair to Phil Jones, I’ve not seen him come out and speak and clarify, he might have had injuries we don’t know about. But if he’s been fit and has been sitting there like he has been, sign a new deal and stay and not go out on loan… that’s not what a footballer wants to do.
‘If I was in the squad with someone like that I wouldn’t talk to them. They are a waste of time, why would I chat to you and give you any energy, taking that away from my other teammates who are here to play and go into battle for 90 minutes every week.’
At his pre-match press conference on Friday, Solskjaer jumped to Jones’ defence following Ferdinand’s attack and insisted the centre-half was a ‘proper, proper professional’.
‘Phil has had a horrible 18, 19, 20 months – and probably a year before that as well with injuries,’ the United head coach told reporters.
‘I think Rio was a bit out of order, not out of order. He should have called me about why Phil hasn’t been playing.
‘Phil is a no fuss, get on with it type of guy and I think that out of order completely.
‘He is still not 30, but he puts his body on the line and he has never done anything but give everything for the club. Rio of all should know more.
‘He just gets his head down, a proper, proper professional.’
Solskjaer hasn’t been alone in condemning Ferdinand’s comments, with Trevor Sinclair taking to Twitter to blast his former England team-mate yesterday.
‘Love you Rio but get a grip bro!’ Sinclair said.
‘Destroying ex-team-mates who are obviously still trying their best isn’t the one? #PeaceAndLove.’
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