LIONEL Messi gave defender Phil Jones the runaround in the Champions League quarter finals second leg in Barcelona’s 3-0 humiliation of Manchester United at the Camp Nou.
Messi, 30, arguably the world’s best footballer, has given many a player sleepless nights in post match nightmares, after giving spectacular displays in games.
So it was somewhat with unfairness that Jones, 27, born in my home City Preston, was ridiculed in the aftermath of a match, lead by Messi, that saw the Spanish team outplay the once glorious Manchester United.
It was former United manager Sir Alex Ferguson who had signed five of the Red Devils players that featured against Barca.
Yet no blame fell at the Scottish wizard’s door. After all Fergie has gone down in history as one of the best managers ever. And rightly so.
The problems at United lie in the dressing room at Old Trafford, the Theatre Of Dreams.
‘Pre-madonna’ players – mostly on a King’s Ransom – with pay packets that most of us can only dream of.
Sanchez, reportedly earning £505,000 a week; others £300,000 a week; £400,000 a week wages, as reported in the Media.
Bit part player Sanchez, 30, has earned a staggering reported £35m to date, since joining United from Arsenal in 2018.
Paul Pogba, 26, cost a reported £89.3m when rejoining United from Juventus in 2016.
Jones is no pre-madonna, a down to earth Lancashire Lad from Leyland, Preston, who rose to the top of his profession, from that of playing on parks’ grass roots level.
England international Jones, donning a white head bandage, was playing the Braveheart centre-half, alongside a United defence, of which four of the back five were brought to the club by Ferguson, who retired in 2013.
Messi run ragged Jones – and the rest of the defence – picking up the ball in half-spaces, and running in a series of vengeful repetitions.
Messi had Jones and co. in a tizzy. One moment, when taking the ball just past the centre circle, seeing a space, with Jones ahead of him veering back, he nutmegged him, to the roar of the 100,000 capacity Camp Nou.
Spain international and United star goalie de Gea, reportedly wanting £350,000 a week to remain at Old Trafford, made a schoolboy error in letting a Messi shot squander under his arms and into the net!
Jones, who joined United in a £16.5m move from Blackburn Rovers in 2011, signed a new contract at United in February, until 2023.
Olé Gunnar Solskjaer, 46, who replaced the self-proclaimed ‘Special One’ José Mourinho as caretaker in December, prior to signing a three year contract in March, has a job in hand – in reaching the standard of Barca.
And that’s certainly a goal for “Keeping up with the Joneses”!