It has been widely reported that Jose Mourinho is set to return to Chelsea in the near future, but Matt Stanger ponders whether this is really a good thing for the Blues and the PL...
Roll up, roll up to have a good laugh at your Football365 scribes, as we look back on our pre-season predictions to see who was wrong, who was right and who was stupid...
The sight of Phil Jones leaving Old Trafford on crutches on Monday night is a significant concern for Manchester United. The 20-year-old has played an important role in the team's fortunes in recent weeks, starting seven of the last eight matches and carrying out crucial man-marking tasks against two of the Premier League's star players and Cristiano Ronaldo.
But while Jones' shepherding of Ronaldo helped United to an impressive 1-1 draw against Real Madrid at the Santiago Bernabeu, it's somewhat unexpected to see fans fretting over his fitness ahead of the second leg and even suggesting the youngster is the answer to the team's long-standing problem of a lack of grit in midfield.
The bated breath over Jones' injury is reminiscent of when Wayne Rooney sprained his ankle in the first leg of United's Champions League quarter-final against Bayern Munich in 2010, but the utility man is a relative novice, making only a handful of appearances in his new position.
A month ago few would even have nominated Jones for the man-marking role he performed against Ronaldo. Before Sir Alex Ferguson deployed him to neutralise Gareth Bale at White Hart Lane, he was seen as rather oafish and scatterbrained, and certainly not the sort of character you could rely on to mark one of the top two players in the world.
It's therefore quite astonishing how much Jones' stock and importance to United's chances of Champions League progression have risen following his performances over the past month. It may be that Jones has finally found his niche - or indeed been told his niche by Ferguson - but it appears a considerable risk by the manager to pin a healthy portion of United's Champions Leagues hopes on a player still largely unfamiliar with his duties.
This is not to say that Jones won't eventually truly make the midfield enforcer role his own. He dealt with the threat of Bale admirably - limiting the Wales international to long range attempts and preventing him from setting up a single chance - while his combative display against Marouane Fellaini, a player who doesn't usually struggle in physical contests, was even more impressive.
One particular moment in United's victory over Everton captured perfectly Jones' transformation from a try-hard to a midfield hard man. As Fellaini condescendingly flicked the youngster away, Jones seemed to pause hesitantly, before going at his opponent repeatedly and unashamedly, forcing Fellaini to lose possession. It was a convincing show of authority, both in competition and character.
It could be argued that Jones needs his new role more than anyone. Despite starting out as a solid centre-back at Blackburn, where his style was likened to John Terry by manager Sam Allardyce, the England international has found the path to his natural position blocked by United's first-choice pairing of Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand, as well as the much-improved Jonny Evans and Chris Smalling. Until now, he has struggled to carve out a regular position at Old Trafford and despite his young years there was a possibility that he could become a Jack of all trades, restricted to the fringes of the first team. But Ferguson has remained faithful.
"Jones has got more in his locker than John (Terry)," the manager said recently. "Phil is a versatile boy, he can play anywhere. He's quick, two-footed, reads games well and is competitive. He's doing very well."
There is certainly reason for optimism over Jones' development and his rapid rise to prominence is perhaps an identifier of where United currently stand in Ferguson's latest evolution of his squad. The sudden reliance on a player previously occupying a peripheral role is another example of the manager's failure to address the long-standing midfield issue, but it also indicates his shrewd assembly of a squad capable of adapting to different challenges. And if Jones can recover from his injury to withstand his and United's latest test, the midfielder could prove to be a crucial cog in Ferguson's last spin of the wheel.
Matt Stanger - he's on the Twitter.
To compare jones to o'shea is ridiculous. Nobody would care if o'shea got injured especially with a fully fit squad, I am quite worried for Madrid now that jones is a doubt. Also I'd like to see o'shea do a job on ronaldo/bale/fellaini- hamzah