© foto di Matteo Gribaudi/Image Sport
United defender Phil Jones admits that, on a personal level at least, 2011/12 has been a huge success.
Jones arrived at Old Trafford last summer from Blackburn Rovers, aged just 19, and couldn't have dreamed he'd play such a key role in his first campaign. Sure, he was already a regular for the England Under-21s; but in order to break through at United he'd have to push past the likes of Rio Ferdinand, Nemanja Vidic, Chris Smalling and Jonny Evans. Patience, it seemed, would be required.
Fast forward nine months, though, and only stand-in skipper Patrice Evra and striking lynchpin Wayne Rooney have made more appearances than Jones. The Chorley-born defender has also won his first international caps at senior level and drawn comparisons with some of the greatest footballers to have ever pulled on the Reds shirt.
"It's gone really well," Jones admits. "If anyone had told me at the start of the season I would have made 40 appearances for Manchester United I would have snapped their hands off. It's incredible. I didn't expect it this season."
Few others expected such a meteoric rise, either. Indeed, reports soon after Jones arrived at the club suggested interest from other clubs had forced Sir Alex Ferguson to move for the young defender 12 months earlier than planned.
And yet, Jones insists the transition from Ewood Park to Old Trafford was simple. Natural, even.
"It was relatively easy to adjust because at Blackburn I always saw myself as a player who likes to get the ball down and play. That is what United love to do, get the ball down and play. The players have also helped me and made me feel so welcome.