Date:Thursday November 16 2006
It is now official: David Jones has agreed personal terms with Derby County and is due to undergo a medical in the next few days. He'll initally go to the Rams on loan but they could sign him on a permanent basis in January.
The question is, when United made the bigger mistake? Now, when they've released a player who's been tipped to break into the first team sooner or later or when they've signed him as a trainee in July 2002.
Everything started brightly for Jones. He was (and I think still is) a midfielder with good passing, vision and tackling and he could score goals. He was captain of the U18 side that had won the Youth Cup back in 2003 and later he became captain of the reserves, too, winning the fantastic quadruple. His first team debut came in 2004, with no less glamorous opponents than Arsenal. United won that League Cup encounter thanks to David Bellion's 19th second goal but even this victory was not enough to get Jones closer to the first team. Therefore, he had been loaned out to Preston in 2005 then he spent the second part of the 2005-2006 season on loan at NEC Nijmegen of Holland.
At this point I was beginning to worry. I mean, he was reported to be a great talent but he was loaned out while Darren Fletcher was rapidly gaining first-team experience. I began to suspect something is out of order here, whatever the coaches might have said.
But still, I was hopeful, as he was impressive in Holland and seemed full of confidence of holding down a first-team spot when he would get back. But it never happened.
Jonah appeared twice in the first team this season, in the Carling Cup. He wasn't bad but he was nothing special and we were all forced to conclude that this co-operation is not in the interests of either parties.
The bottom line is that I think it's a sad thing to lose him but there's no toher solution if we'd ever like him to profit from his talents. He was talented but he could not make it and I'm at a loss to explain why. Some have said Fergie is now not prepared to take risks with youth. That arguement may have its valid foundations but it totally ignores the fact that Richardson and Fletcher (both around Jones' age) got a reasonable amount of opportunities - and I daresay Darren grabbed his chance! But Jones never got it.
It seems very much that the step between Reserves football and the Premier League is simply too big. You surely remember Markus Neumayr. He's arrived here as a big talent, won a hatful of trophies with the reserve team, became skipper of them - and then he's been released at the end of last season, just out of the blue, no explanation.
I fear for Lee Martin, Phil Bardsley, Gerard Pique, Jonny Evans and co., to be honest...
Date:Thursday November 16 2006
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