Phil Jones is revelling in his role as an unsung hero at Manchester United and insists his love for defending outweighs any desire to receive plaudits.
The England international’s 2016-17 campaign did not start until November, with Jose Mourinho drafting him in for a 3-1 victory away at Swansea City.
He has not looked back and has formed an impressive partnership with Marcos Rojo at the heart of the Red Devils’ back four.
Jones has helped to keep six clean sheets in 14 appearances across all competitions, with United having matured under Jose Mourinho into serious top-four challengers.
The 24-year-old is, however, happy for others to keep hogging the limelight, with the efforts of the Old Trafford defensive unit allowing the likes of Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Paul Pogba to flourish.
Jones told Inside United: “As defenders, we don’t care. I just love to defend! I want to stop goals going in the net. I want to give David De Gea fewer saves to make, or have him not need to make any in the whole game. I think we’re getting better.
"When we’re defending as a team, we’re doing better and ultimately we need to keep improving. If we make an important block, it can be like a goal. It’s the striker’s job to put the ball in the net and it’s up to us to make important tackles and blocks.”
Jones’ personal development has impressed this season, with a man once billed by Sir Alex Ferguson as being capable of becoming United’s “best ever player” having had to come through a testing spell.
He is understandably delighted at being back in the fold and says he will continue to strive for continuous improvement and reward the faith shown in him by Mourinho.
Jones added: “It’s been brilliant.
“He’s shown a lot of confidence and belief in me and hopefully I’m repaying that.
“It’s always nice to share comments from the manager and other people that you’re doing well. I’m not under any illusions, though. In this game you can be up there one minute and down the next, so I need to keep going and keep improving.”