Rio points to ‘misinterpreted’ criticism as he praises ‘class’ Man Utd star

Joe Williams
Former Man Utd defender Rio Ferdinand smiles

Rio Ferdinand claims his criticism of Phil Jones last year was “misinterpreted” and praised the Man Utd defender for his performance in a 1-0 defeat to Wolves.

The former Blackburn Rovers centre-back played his first Premier League game for two years on Monday night and put in a decent display against Bruno Lage’s outfit.

Jones has missed the majority of the last two years with a knee injury that required surgery and painstaking rehabilitation.

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The centre-half was weirdly criticised last year by former teammate Ferdinand, who himself was taken to task by Ole Gunnar Solskjaer for his “out of order” comments.

Jones also hit back at Ferdinand for his “really poor” criticism, with the pundit later backtracking and apologising.

However, former Man Utd defender Ferdinand has claimed his comments on Jones were “misinterpreted a little bit” and thought the centre-back was “class for long periods in the game” against Wolves.

“For someone to come in from the cold like that, you have to tip your hat to someone like that,” Ferdinand said on his Vibe with Five Youtube channel.

“They’re playing him maybe to put him in the shop window, first and foremost, but if he plays well enough the manager might change his mind. That can happen in football very quickly.

“I’m just pleased he got through the game unscathed, no injuries. He put in a decent performance after such a long time out, not easy to do. So you’ve got to tilt your hat to Phil Jones.

“He’s come in for a lot of stick, a lot of my words have been misinterpreted a little bit. But you’ve got to say, ‘well done’ in terms of the amount of time he’s been off the pitch, to come in and play in the Premier League and play at the standard he did today.

“Albeit, his header was the one that fell to Moutinho’s foot before he scored but I thought he was class for long periods in the game.”

Meanwhile, Man Utd left-back Shaw made a point of praising “exceptional” Jones following his impressive return but knows the team must do better as a unit.

“It’s tough,” Shaw said after the loss to Wolves. “I think you look at our squad, you look at our team, the players we have – we have unbelievable quality, we have great quality.

“Sometimes quality isn’t enough. Like I said, we need to bring the intensity, we need to bring being more aggressive and we need to bring more motivation.

“Maybe from the outside today it didn’t look like we had any of those three, but inside the dressing room we know we want to win. We know what we want.

“But when we step out on that pitch we need to give 100 per cent. Everything we’ve got.

“I’m not saying not everyone did, but I think to win these types of games against a tough team like Wolves, we all need to be 100 per cent committed because we know it’s always close games whoever they play.

“It’s just tough and disappointing, but we have time now to re-focus back. We’ve got a long training week and maybe the manager can bring some more ideas what he wants on the pitch.”