Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo has not had the best time since he joined the Reds in 2014. The Argentine signed for £16m from Sporting Lisbon and was instantly subject to some controversy as it emerged that he was not fully owned by Lisbon. After all the disagreements were solved, Rojo still struggled for playing time with injury and numerous yellow cards under former manager Louis van Gaal, and looked like he could leave the club under Jose Mourinho.
Rojo has always looked like a decent United player, and has often been deployed as a left back – he actually played his first game under Mourinho as a left back. However, after United were hit by their yearly injury crisis in defence, it was Mourinho’s only option to place the 26-year-old at the heart of his defence.
It was almost certainly a make or break situation for Rojo, who surprised many to be real quality, serving up a rock-solid display. Rojo has been a total revelation under Mourinho so far this season, alongside Phil Jones the pair look almost unbeatable. Many pundits have been full of praise for the Argentine’s defensive performances, but his impetuous nature has sparked some controversy.
United should have been a man light against Everton on the 4th December, as Rojo left the ground with a two-footed lunge at Idrissa Gueye. He escaped punishment, but the vast majority were in agreement that the defender should have been shown a straight red for the challenge. Against Crystal Palace on Wednesday night there was a sense of deja vu as Rojo once again lunged two-footed into former Red Wilfried Zaha. This time, Rojo was punished with a yellow card, but could it have been a lot worse for the defender? Palace manager Alan Pardew certainly thinks so.
“It did look bad.” said Palace boss Alan Pardew. “He jumps two-footed and we go to these meetings (with officials) where (we’re told) that is a red card.”
It was a bad day for the officials for many reasons on Wednesday night, but Rojo’s bad tackle has certainly been at the forefront of the headlines.
Jose Mourinho has been quick to jump to the defence of his defender though, saying that Rojo is not a dirty player but is simply emotional and aggressive.
“He’s playing phenomenal.” said the United boss. “He is clean, aggressive, Argentine, emotional, very clean. I didn’t comment (about) David Luiz on Marouane Fellaini or Danny Rose on Henrikh Mkhitaryan. I won’t comment on this.”
[Quotes via Daily Mail]
Let’s hope Rojo hasn’t created some form of reputation for himself among referees – but he shouldn’t have really because the only thing the Argentinian has been guilty of is playing an agressive, take-no-prisoners brand of football which we see far too little of in British football thesedays. Rojo was partnered by Phil Jones on Wednseday and the 2 centre-halves did not disappoint. As his defensive partner you have to be some what understanding when it comes to Jones as he is still working his way back from his nasty injury problems and now finally he is getting close to fitness and showing what he can do. The full-blooded (not dirty) tackles he engaged in against Cystal Palace on Wednesday nght were more than totally committed challenges which showed to the Palace defense that Rojo in particular meant business and that he was in no mood to take any over-the-top challenges players from any of the Eagles players. The United manager for once looked very happy with Rojo and given the way he played and the commitment, Jose had nothing negative at all to say about the Argentinian. So Rojo and Jones must have a good chance of continuing their central defensive partnership and long man it continue if it brings out the best in them.