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Phil Jones and Chris Smalling didn’t do a lot right against Newcastle United on Sunday.

Manchester United lost 1-0 at St James’ Park, and their central-defensive duo had an afternoon to forget, particularly Smalling. The England defender dived near the half-way line in the second-half, and received a booking for simulation. From the resulting free-kick, Newcastle scored a well-worked goal when Matt Ritchie smashed the ball past David de Gea.

None of Jose Mourinho’s players did well on the day, but much of the scorn from United fans has focused on Smalling and Jones. United have now lost their last two Premier League games away from home, and their two central defenders have made high profile mistakes. Jones scored an own-goal against Tottenham at Wembley two weeks ago, and Harry Kane dominated both players.

The pair aren’t playing well, but Phil Neville’s criticism of them on Match of the Day 2 on Sunday night was peculiar. Neville managed to criticise the only thing the pair didn’t do wrong, which is some achievement given how poor they were on the day.

“Manchester United have got the best defensive record (in the Premier League) because they’ve got the best goalkeeper in the world, they’ve got Matic sat in front that protects them really well, but the last two (away) games, Smalling and Jones have had a disaster,” Phil began.

“Against Dele Alli and Harry Kane they got bullied. Today, did they make many mistakes? No, but they created a nervousness and a tension. They…



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