In the latest episode of UTD Podcast, Manchester United defender Phil Jones speaks about how the squad reacted when Sir Alex Ferguson announced his retirement in 2013.
The Reds defender is the latest guest on our official club podcast, in which Jones shares several detailed stories from his early days at the club.
Sitting down with presenters Sam Homewood and Helen Evans, the centre-back addresses his injury problems, his England career and why he eventually came off social media.
But one of the best moments is when Jones speaks about our legendary former boss’s surprise departure.
With Ferguson at the helm, Jones and United had just won the Premier League, in what was the defender’s second season at Old Trafford.
That would also be Sir Alex’s last dance, as he announced his retirement from management two weeks later, on Saturday 8 May, with the players joining the rest of the footballing world in being caught on the back foot.
“Yeah, that was a shock. I remember coming in one morning that season and there were a few whispers on the training ground and there was a few things on Twitter the night before,” Jones said.
“Anyway, they called a meeting at 10am at the training ground and he told us that he was retiring. I remember he apologised to a few of the new guys that had come in, I think Robin was one of them, because he’d promised to be there for a few years.
“That was that but the lads totally understood why he was doing it. What a man. What a human being, he’s unbelievable.”
Jones, who was just 21 at the time, admits that he may have underestimated just how much of an important figure Sir Alex was.
“It was a shock. I think it was a shock to everyone, he’d been at the club for so long and won so many things,” our no.4 added.
“The talk was obviously about who’s going to come in, who was going to take over? Names were being brandished about all over the place, but I didn’t realise how big of an impact it’d have or how big of an impact that was going to have on the team.
“I thought, ‘we’ve still got good players, we’re still Man United, we’re still going win’. I was just a young player. The next season was really tough. Really tough. I didn’t realise the impact it’d have.”
The fascinating podcast episode is exclusively available to listen to in our Official App, until Tuesday.