Solskjaer Reveals Why He Chose Phil Jones Over Tuanzebe Against Sheffield

Phil Jones looks dejected after sustaining an injury.

REUTERS/Andrew Yates

Manchester United traveled to Sheffield on Sunday where they were held to a 3-all draw by the hosts.

The Red Devils did a brilliant job of coming back after going 2-0 down and securing a lead in the second-half. But Sheffield United managed to score a late equaliser via Oli McBurnie.

One of the peculiar things about the fixture was Phil Jones’ performance, who had a disappointing outing. The Englishman was toyed around by the home side and failed to reply well to their intense physicality. Though many fans don’t expect great performances from the defender anymore, he still left many disappointed.

However, the decision to play him was questioned even before kick-off when the line-ups were announced. Axel Tuanzebe has seemingly lost his place out of nowhere to someone who had barely performed this season.

When asked about the decision to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer during the pre-match press conference, he explained to Sky Sports:

“We know about Sheffield United’s strengths and we’ve got to defend well. Obviously set plays in the box, stop crosses.

“We know tactically we have to be spot-on and of course mentally, because this ground is not an easy one if you don’t get a good start.

“So Jones comes in with the experience. He’s been fit now for a while and been training hard and well, so he will give us a good option in two positions.”

The Norwegian also answered to being quizzed where he would feature on the pitch.

“He might do midfield for a little while, he might do at the back – it depends on how the game goes,” Solskjaer replied.

“Axel’s back in the squad, not really ready to play yet,” he added.

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“Phil has been training well,” the United boss continued to explain his selection of the defender “He’s got experience of playing both central midfield and at the back.

“When you show the attitude he’s shown in training, it’s time for him to get a chance. Marcos [Rojo] is injured, Axel isn’t really ready to come in so it was an easy option.”

Though on paper the gaffer’s decision seems to make sense, it was barely reciprocated on the pitch. The Old Trafford outfit have been struggling defensively as Victor Lindelof is undergoing a rough patch.

Meanwhile, loanee Chris Smalling has been one of AS Roma’s key players this season. It really should be asked whether the ex-Molde boss’ decision to offload him without securing a replacement was wise.