Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hit back at former Manchester United defender Rio Ferdinand over his comments on Phil Jones earlier this week.
Ferdinand, who left the club in 2014 following the arrival of Louis van Gaal, launched a scathing attack on Jones for no apparent reason. The former Leeds and West Ham star’s comments have now been condemned by Solskjaer, although the Norwegian boss was mindful of choosing his words wisely.
Earlier this week, Ferdinand suggested that Jones should ‘find a new club’ and that the 29-year-old ‘should’ve gone ages ago’. The criticism could have been particularly badly received by Jones considering the pair were teammates for three years.
As part of Solskjaer’s media duties ahead of this weekend’s clash with Wolves, Solskjaer was quizzed on Jones and swiftly jumped in to defend him, insisting that Ferdinand was ‘out of order’ with his criticism.
“Phil has had a horrible 18-19 months and probably a year before that as well with injuries. I think Rio was a bit, not out of order, but a bit unlucky,” he said, before going back on his opening statement to claim that Ferdinand was in fact out of order.
“He should have called me and asked why Phil hasn’t played or why Phil hasn’t been here. Phil is a no fuss, get on with it type of guy. I think that (Ferdinand’s comments) was out of order completely. I know more than anyone how it feels to be injured at that stage.
“He’s still not 30 years of age. Since I came here he’s battled with this knee injury, he’s put his body on the line, every single training session, every single game.
“There’s a few times we’ve had to manage him. He’s never given anything but given everything for the club. Rio should know more than to go out and say this.
“I’ve wanted to say a lot but I’ve not said a lot about Phil’s injury because I’ve wanted to protect him. Phil’s never on social media, never asked to do interviews, he just gets his head down, proper, proper professional, no fuss, family man.
“He just wants to get back fit. We managed to get him half an hour against Burnley, which was the first half an hour against an opponent. He’s played here in training. He’s working his way. I was out for two years in a three-year period with a knee injury.
“Phil has battled valiantly, I’d say. I know how Phil has felt, you’re embarrassed at times coming in. But he has to look after his career and he’s now getting back to fitness. Now is not the time to throw him in. I think you can give him a little bit more, maybe a month, six weeks.
“Some behind closed doors. He’ll be there. For me as a manager, to see there’s can be light at the end of the tunnel, it’s great because I’ve been through the same. I think Rio knows, I think he feels a little bit sorry about that one.
“I’ve not spoke to Rio, but I think he should. Sorry, that was a long one, but I feel Phil deserves that because he’s played here for 10 years and always given everything,” he is quoted as saying by the official Manchester United website.
The response is out of character from Solskjaer, who is usually keen to keep his answers short and sweet rather than elaborating but Jones will be happy to know that his manager is defending his corner.