Phil Jones: How to defend against counter-attacks

Phil Jones: How to defend against counter-attacks

Phil Jones: How to defend against counter-attacks


Manchester United and England defender Phil Jones gives FourFourTwo a few tips on some attacking scenarios, including the commonly deployed counter-attack style against Manchester United.

Teams often play counter-attacking football against Manchester United. What do you do when you’ve been caught on the break and you’re the last man in a two-on-one situation?

“I would follow the person with the ball and try to corner them, stopping them from passing it to the other player. This is crucial, because once he plays it to his team-mate that rules you out and he’s one-on-one with the goalkeeper. You’ve got to try and usher him into a one-on-one against you and not a two-on-one.

“Timing is key. As soon as you see a loose touch from the player in possession, that’s when you get into a position to show him away from goal and block off the pass. If you get this right, there’s no way he can play the ball around you or through you. Then hopefully you can beat him for pace and make a tackle… or a professional foul!” 

How do you deal with a front pairing who keep interchanging positions?

“Talk. Talking is essential in football: if they’re switching, just tell your centre-back partner. Tell them ‘left shoulder’ or ‘right shoulder’ and make them aware of where the striker is coming from. Stay where you are: you’re a partnership so you don’t have to keep switching positions – just keep your eye on the play, the ball and the man.

“There’s only so far you can go with your man – don’t be afraid to pass him on to someone else if you have to.”

What problems can it create if you get sucked out of position?

“It leaves gaps in your defence. For instance, if I start rushing out into the midfield to close someone down and they pop it around, there’s a massive gap in the centre of our defence. I’d hope that if I did that, the full-backs would see and tuck in to make the opposition play wide, and not through you.”

 Phil Jones wears the Adidas Ace.17.