19 Oct, 18:30
News emerged that Rojo is included in the Red Devils’ travelling squad for yesterday’s match at SL Benfica, at a time when injuries seem to be decimating his plans. It’s a welcome boost for Jose Mourinho.
The question Mourinho must answer is, will Marcos Rojo feature in United’s plans? Phil Jones is performing like a man possessed, Eric Bailly is looking sharp. Ashley Young is making that troublesome left-back role his own. Antonio Valencia is Antonio Valencia. With no glaring need, it’s not going to be easy for the ex-Sporting Lisbon hot-shot to find regular playing time.
First, the 27-year-old deserves endless credit for getting himself back ahead of schedule. Just a couple of months ago, Mourinho claimed that his #5 wouldn’t be available until December. Even if Rojo doesn’t take the field against Benfica, he seems to be healing far quicker than the self-proclaimed Special believed.
Before going down with a cruciate injury, Rojo appeared on 41 occasions for Manchester United last term. Mostly, he was deployed as a centre-back alongside the emergent Bailly. The pair clicked instantly, forming a back two who loved to defend on the front-foot. Opposing forwards weren’t alone no time or space on the ball.
Fast-forward six months and Rojo has a certain Englishman ahead of him. Jones has been far and away Manchester United’s most reliable defender. With the 25-year-old, the Red Devils have kept eight clean sheets in nine Premier League fixtures. It seems (touch wood), Jones’ horrific injury record is in the rearview; displacing him in the starting line-up won’t be easy.
Although Bailly missed United’s clash against Liverpool, with an injury, he shouldn’t be absent for long. The Ivory Coast international was Mourinho’s first Old Trafford signing- what an astute piece of business it was. He’s tough in the tackle, loves a physical battle, and works tirelessly. The perfect defender for Premier League football.
When Rojo first moved to the Theatre of Dreams, he was signed as a left-back. United fans realise what a problem area that has been over recent years. Luke Shaw isn’t reliable; Daley Blind is not quick; Matteo Darmian lacks the positional nous. Mourinho has now turned to the unlikely hero Young.
The versatile veteran has unexpectedly forced his way into the starting XI after a summer when he was mooted for a move to China. When you think about it, Young has all the requisite attributes to be a top full-back He’s quick, defends diligently, works hard, and can deliver an inch-perfect cross.
Regaining his place is quite the conundrum for Rojo, then. Without a doubt, he’ll be given opportunities. He’s earned them. Where, however, is anyone’s guess.
Mourinho trusts the Argentine wholeheartedly, and football is now, more than ever, a squad game. Injuries occur, as do fixture pile-ups. Having Marcos Rojo back spells only good news for Manchester United fans. Expect him to have a big say in the 2017/18 campaign.