Phil Jones was part of the Blackburn barrier that has proved so difficult for Manchester United to knock down over the years — but it is the memory of the Red Devils’ title celebrations at Ewood Park that persuaded the defender to switch clubs.
Jones was only a raw teenager when he made his first appearance against Alex Ferguson’s men, a goalless draw in 2010 that effectively ended any hope United had of overhauling Chelsea for the championship.
The same outcome last term had totally different consequences as a late Wayne Rooney equaliser proved enough to clinch that record 19th championship.
United began their party on the field as soon as the final whistle blew. And Jones wanted a piece of the action.
“That is exactly why I left,” he said. “I had some fond memories from my time at Blackburn and there are some wonderful people at the club. But I wanted to win trophies and become part of a team with a massive background, which United have.
“To lift that trophy at the end of the season would be a wonderful achievement for me.”
Yet Jones’ status as a Blackburn player from his youth days allows him to provide an insight into why United have struggled so badly at Ewood Park.
United have claimed just two wins from 11 trips to Blackburn, a strange statistic, and one Jones knows the hosts will be eager to improve on Monday night.
“It is a really tough place to go to start with, and it is Manchester United,” he said.
“It is a local derby and the build-up is all about pressing and how you can stop them from playing. It will be no different this week.”
Jones is expecting his former side to provide stern opposition to United on Monday night.
“The teams we have got coming up are scrapping for their lives. It is nice to be top but we can’t keep looking at the table because we have a long way to go before we are anywhere near to picking up that trophy.”
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