From PA Sports
Last updated: 10/02/19 22:52
Phil Jones says everyone is taking Manchester United seriously again because they were "a bit laughing" at the start of the season.
Few could have predicted the upsurge in wealth overseen by interim manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer since replacing Jose Mourinho in December.
United won 10 of the Norwegian's eleven games and broke records. He has been the first coach of the month since Sir Alex Ferguson and is the bookmaker's favorite for keeping the job on a permanent basis.
Solskjer's excellent audition continued on Saturday with a 3-0 victory in Fulham, a result that put them in the top four for the first time since the opening weekend of the season.
United was eleven points behind the top four when Mourinho was fired, but Jones, a club's Premier League winner in 2013, believes they are on the upswing again.
"It was a big game for us," he said. "We knew we could get into the top four.
"It's a big statement of where we were, we just have to improve and get more and more points."
Man Utd against Liverpool
February 24, 2019, 1:00 pm
When asked if it was a big psychological boost for fourth place, Jones added, "Yes, huge.
"Everyone has to take us seriously now, you know?
"Okay, maybe we were a bit laughing at the beginning of the season, but certainly not now.
"We have proven this in the last 10 or 12 games, we are improving and getting better and better."
United has won 25 points in nine league games under Solskjaer – just one point less than Mourinho in the first 17 games of the season.
Asked about the change of mindset, Jones said, "Yeah, just a positive attitude to the place you have to grind is when we're not playing well, playing forward, playing with purpose and goal, and that's what it is it's what we want.
"You can see it in every game, we create a lot of opportunities and put them away.
"It was hard for everyone involved [at the start of the season], Everyone in the club, the supporters, everyone. But it's about getting stronger and staying that way. I think we did it.
"I've said in the past, we have not achieved anything yet, we're not under any illusions, but we're heading in the right direction."
Jones's excitement over the future was clear after signing a new deal by 2023, with the option of another year on the eve of the Fulham game – an expansion that some fans expressed their disappointment.
"Listen, I do not sleep over what people say about me," said the England international. "It's football.
"I'll get criticized in the future, I'll get criticism in the past, frankly, I usually do not care.
"I have a wonderful family, wonderful friends, I play football for Man United and I've got an extra contract, so I'm grateful and grateful for that, it's great."
It's the kind of thick skin needed in a club like United, whose desire to improve under Mourinho in the center-back was clear throughout the summer.
A variety of names were mentioned, but Jones was not stung by this hunt for new faces.
"If I'm brutally honest, not really," said the center-back. "Since I came to the club, we've signed players left, right and in the middle: striker, defender, goalkeeper.
Of course we are interested in the best players in the world, I would be quite surprised if we were not, so it's great. "
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