Man Utd star says ‘toxic’ social media environment still troubling him

Man Utd pair Phil Jones and David de Gea looking dejected 2021

Manchester United defender Phil Jones says the “toxic” environment of social media remains “difficult” to deal despite turning removing himself from online activity.

The 29-year-old has not posted on Twitter since May 2017 and not made a post on Instagram since June 2017. His decision to blank out social media came off the back of a torrent of abuse.

The former England man has suffered online more than most after seeing his United career stall.

Jones was also attacked by Rio Ferdinand recently. His former United team-mate said he was “baffled” as to how the defender had earned a new contract.

The comment prompted Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to call out Ferdinand. And the United legend apologised soon after.

“The one area where I would apologise to Phil Jones and anyone at Manchester United who has been a part of his journey,” Ferdinand said.

Similar comments and more serious abuse has been common for Jones to deal with. And he says young players coming into the game today must by mentally strong.


“I stepped away from social media a long time ago but it’s difficult because all your friends read it, your family read it and they support you, they want the best for you,” Jones told the UTD podcast, out on Monday.

“They don’t want to see their mate, their husband, their dad getting slaughtered all over the papers or all over the media. So it’s tough because mentally I was going through a tough time and (then) to read stuff as well…

“It’s difficult but it’s something I’ve learned to deal with, especially over the time I’ve been at United and the more experience you get, the older you get, the better you learn to deal with those things.

“I suppose for young players coming into the game now, not just at Man United, but all over the world, it’s a very hostile, toxic place to come into and they’ve got to be able to deal with that mentally as well as physically.

“I look how the game’s been developed over the last 10 years. And the way social media has developed and it’s difficult to stay away from it.

“It’s difficult not to get distracted by it (and) young players coming into the game, I think it’s difficult for them not to read it.

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Injuries could mean a chance for Jones

“I know as a young player, that’s the first thing you do: you come off the game and you want to see what people are saying about you. And when you strip it all back in reality, it doesn’t really matter what they say because they’re not picking the team.”

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Jones has not played for United since an FA Cup tie against Tranmere in January 2020 due to a knee problem. He has though featured in a couple of behind-closed-doors friendlies and was in the matchday squad for last month’s Carabao Cup defeat to West Ham.

However, with Raphael Varane picking up an injury on Sunday, Jones may get a rare opportunity.

Varane limped off injured in France’s Sunday’s Nations League final victory over Spain. And with Harry Maguire missing with a calf problem. there could be an opening for Jones.

Victor Lindelof is likely to step in against Leicester on Saturday. So Jones or Eric Bailly could be in line for the other centre-back role.

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