Thomas Tuchel revealed that Chelsea altered their game plan in the 2-0 FA Cup quarter-final win against Middlesbrough to nullify the threat Isaiah Jones posed.
According to 90min, Manchester United are interested in Boro’s marauding 22-year-old wing-back.
It’s a huge testament to the talent Jones possesses that Tuchel felt the reigning European and World champions had to tweak their approach to thwart the talented Englishman.
Jones is in the midst of a tremendous breakthrough campaign for the Teesiders and he impressed throughout Boro’s FA Cup run.
Chris Wilder’s produced back-to-back upsets to knock Manchester United and Tottenham out of the competition, but Tuchel’s Chelsea proved a step to far for the Championship side at the Riverside.
Unlike against United and Spurs, Wilder’s side couldn’t cause the Blues the same problems and Tuchel spoke after the game to highlight how he identified that Jones was a vital cog of Boro’s attacking threat.
The German selected the defensive-minded Malang Sarr at left-back in an attempt to keep Jones quiet.
Speaking via the Northern Echo, Tuchel said: “We focused in the preparation on the games against Manchester United and Tottenham to know what’s coming and make the team understand what’s coming.
“We knew about their structure and habits and were aware of their strengths of course.
“We prepared like any other match in the best way possible and adapted a little bit in the structure. They push their right wing-back, Jones, very high, he plays almost like a winger, so we adapted with Sarr to have the physical strength and speed to match this attacking force of Middlesbrough.”
Jones has one goal and nine assists to his name from 35 Championship matches so far this season.
His impressive performances have grabbed Manchester United’s attention and amid the Reds’ ongoing uncertainty surrounding Diogo Dalot and Aaron Wan-Bissaka’s ability to nail down the right-back spot, interest in Jones could be intensified in the summer, if the club’s next permanent manager gives the green light to pursue the London-born man.
Jones in many ways is similar to Manchester United academy graduate and fellow wing-back Ethan Laird – a bundle of energy, blistering pace and eager to contribute to his side’s attacking options with their driving runs.
BBC pundit Jermaine Jenas who was commentating on Saturday’s game at the Riverside felt Isaiah Jones’ performance vindicated why big clubs were interested in the youngster ahead of the summer transfer window.
The former England international said: “He’s not done himself any harm at all.
“He was already in the shop window. There are a lot of clubs looking at him, and you can see why.”