As we return to the business of the Premier League, there’s some moderately concerning news about Manchester United’s defensive options. Both Phil Jones and Eric Bailly will miss this weekend’s visit of Brighton. Still, no need to worry. Speaking before the game, Jose Mourinho was calm:
Bailly and Jones — they are out, but we are okay because we have Smalling, Rojo and Lindelof.
On Rojo, who made his return from injury against Basel in midweek, Mourinho expanded:
He played very well [on Wednesday]. We have to see how he is today and there is no more injury in the frame, but fatigue, maybe he feels a little bit. But to be honest, Zlatan returned before him, Pogba returned before him, and he was in better condition than them. He didn't return before because, during the last period of his recovery, we had all our central-backs ready to play, so we didn't need to push him, we gave him more time to prepare, so when he played on Wednesday, he was ready.
Given that Lindelof’s looked shaky in his appearances so far, tBB reckons that if there’s any chance of Rojo starting, he’ll start. Alternatively, he might get a look-in at left-back, if United play a back four. He probably won’t play up front, because that would be silly.
While we’re on the subject, United’s central defensive options are a little odd, aren’t they? Essentially, the hierarchy seems to be Bailly, then whoever’s in the best form/least knackered alongside him, then Lindelof. Which is fine, most of the time, but isn’t exactly as reassuringly settled as Pallister-Bruce or Ferdinand-Vidic. Obviously there are parts of the side in need of more attention, and maybe Jones will finally overcome his seemingly fractal injuries and flair for the comedic. But still. Odd.