Who was better aged 20 - John Terry or Phil Jones?

Sir Alex Ferguson has celebrated Phil Jones recent return from injury by claiming that the Manchester United player is better than Chelsea captain John Terry was at the same age.

Jones has impressed on his last three outings for United, including the clubs 4-1 victory over Fulham at the weekend. Jones’ form, however brief, has caused Ferguson to use comparisons with Chelsea captain John Terry. In typical Fergie fashion, the Scot declared that he is in possession of a player with more to his game than a 20-year-old John Terry.

Ferguson said, "Jones has got more in his locker than John [Terry]. Terry has got the experience and has become a fantastic central figure at Chelsea," he explained.

"But as a young player, John [Terry] would be the first to admit he didn't have the pace of Phil Jones.

"Phil is a ­versatile boy, he can play anywhere. He's quick, two-footed, reads games well and is competitive. He's doing very well."

So is their any truth to Sir Alex’s words or is it a case of simply praising one of his own?

Phil Jones made his senior debut for Blackburn Rovers when starting in a League Cup match, against Nottingham Forrest, aged just 16 years old. Terry’s first taste of senior football came a year later in age compared to Jones, when the future Chelsea captain came on as a late sub against Villa in the League Cup aged 17.

Terry didn’t begin to establish himself as a first team regular for Chelsea until he was 20 years old. Jones on the other hand made 9 Premiership appearances for Blackburn Rovers a month after turning 18, and the following season had established himself as a first team regular, playing 26 times. Although it could be argued that Terry would have faced tougher competition to gain a starting place at Chelsea compared with getting into the Blackburn Rovers team. Impressively Terry was also voted the club’s player of the year once his name did became a regular on the team sheet.

Aged 19 Manchester United paid £16.5m to take Jones away from Blackburn Rovers in June 2011, he had appeared in 40 games for the Lancashire club. Since then, and still at the tender age of 20, Jones has made 51 appearances in all competitions for United, taking his career total to 91 appearances with 2 goals.

John Terry’s record, at the same stage of his career, pales in significance to Jones. Aged 20 Terry had made 48 appearances for Chelsea scoring 2 goals. He had also only achieved 1 cap in European competition compared with Jones 11. In terms of International recognition Terry never had any caps for England’s national team when his 20, Jones already has 5.

It seems then that Fergie may make a valid claim. At the same age, as a young John Terry, Jones has accrued nearly double the amount of appearances than his Chelsea counterpart had in the same stage of his career. Jones also has more European and International experience, and as Ferguson suggests is far more versatile. Some may state that experience doesn’t necessarily make you a better player, but it is widely accepted that whenever Jones does take to the field he impresses, as did Terry at that age.

John Terry of course went on to sustain incredibly high levels of success, and still does to this day. The Chelsea and England captain can boast 3 Premier League titles, 5 F.A. Cup’s, 2 League Cup’s, a Champion’s League winners medal and countless individual awards that will see his name cemented as one of the world’s best defenders of his generation.

Jones has made a very promising start to his football career and has the ingredients to be one of ‘the greats’ too, but if he can achieve merely half of what Terry has throughout his career then Ferguson will no doubt be a very happy man.

Do you agree with Sir Alex’s comments?

image: © nasmac

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