Kean: Losing Jones to United has hurt Rovers
Steve Kean could be forgiven for looking in the direction of Phil Jones at Old Trafford on Saturday and wondering just where Blackburn would sit in the Premier League tableif the star pupil of their youth academy was still playing in blue and white.
To make matters worse for Kean, he isunlikely to see a penny of the 16.5million Manchester United spent on Jones last summer, with the money going towards paying off Blackburn”s debts under Indian owners Venky”s rather than funding new signings for their manager in the January transfer window.
Now and then: Phil Jones happy at United (left) but missed by his old club (right)
A meeting between Kean, Venky”s representative Vineeth Rao and other club directors on Thursday is said to have ended badly for the Scot who was told that there is no fighting fund to lift Blackburn out of relegation danger and that he might even have to sell before he can buy the four players he wants.
None of them will be of the same calibre as Jones, who spent nine years on Blackburn”s books before United beat Liverpool and Arsenal in the race to sign him in June.
With Rovers bottom of the table and Kean clinging onto his job, he knows just how the valuable the 19-year-old would have been to his old club this season if he had stayed at Ewood Park.
“Phil would have made a massive difference,” said Kean. “It”s been very hard to replace him. I still think he”d have played on for us at the best of his ability if he hadn”t signed for United.
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“You can look back and say every game he played for us he was top notch. He never ever dropped his standards even when there was speculation he was going to this club or that one.
“I first saw him playing in an academy game. I mentioned to Sam (Allardyce) that I thought he was a John Terry type. We got him up and he started to train with the first team and the rest is history.
“It”s no surprise to me that he”s done so well. He has an old head on young shoulders, electric pace and he takes on information really well.
“He wasn”t shy when giving out a bit of stick or demanding more from his teammates.”
It was the sight of Blackburn”s teenage star urging on his team even when they were losing 7-1 in this fixture last season that convinced Sir Alex Ferguson that he had the temperament to match his talent.
Venky”s were unhappy that United knew of the player”s 16.5m valuation but Kean insists that Jones would not have signed his new contract in February without the release clause being inserted.
“He was just going to see it out,” said Kean.
“He was on a small salary so for us to get him on a new five-year contract the fee was put in there. I don”t know what we”d have got for him if he hadn”t signed it.
“I was hoping we could use the fact he”d always play for us – and always at centre-back – to help us keep him for another year or 18 months but there were four or five teams in for him.”