Manchester United defender Phil Jones intent on modelling his own game on his idol Jaap Stam

Inside Old Trafford

Jaap Stam returns to Manchester United for a Legends match against Bayern Munich at the weekend and Phil Jones will be watching his idol closely.

There has been plenty of talk over Phil Jones’ best position this week, after Paul Scholes stated that the Manchester United defender is not ‘clever enough’ to play as a centre-back, per the Mirror.

Over the years, Jones has been deployed in several different roles, including central midfield, right-back and even a brief cameo at left-back under Louis van Gaal last season. However, for the majority of 2014-15, the 23-year-old played in his preferred central defensive role.

Jones was brought to the club as a central defender by Sir Alex Ferguson but has struggled to play regularly in that position until last year due to his injury problems and sheer versatility.

When he signed for the club, he was tipped to become a United and England great at centre-back but so far it has failed to materialise. Jones is quite error prone and clumsy when it comes to defending, leading to suggestions that his best position is not in the heart of the backline.

However, Jones himself disagrees and has revealed that he models his own style of play on his long time idol Jaap Stam, who won a historic treble with United back in 1999.

Stam was a defensive rock and a leader of men, who did not take any prisoners when defending. Although Jones has a long way to go to replicate the Dutchman’s success throughout his illustrious career, he is definitely in the same mould.

Like the former AC Milan defender, Jones is a no-nonsense centre-back who loves to get stuck in and win aerial duels, despite the fact he is not quite as effective just yet.

When Stam returns to the club for a Legends match against Bayern Munich, who Stam defeated as a player in the Champions League final in 1999, at the weekend, Jones will be watching his idol closely.

He told United’s official website: “Stam was one who I always used to watch when he was playing in the Champions League on those big nights. He was an aggressive and solid defender. Like the fans used to sing, nothing ever used to get past him!

“It'll be nice to see him back at Old Trafford. There are a lot of good ex-pros there and I'm sure it will be a good game. It will be a great occasion, one for everyone to come along to enjoy. It won't be a friendly either! It's great for all the ex-players who used to play here as they are all legends in their own right and I'm sure it will be a cracking game.”

When asked about whether he would be playing in a United legends match one day, Jones responded by saying: “I've got to try to earn that status yet. I've got a long way to go before then but it would be nice.”

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