As Chris Smalling has waned, so Marcos Rojo has waxed. So to speak. Few would have been too upset had the Argentine departed last summer, and he'd have left behind him little more than a few confused memories. Ill-timed tackles. Burnt toast. An inexplicably "enchanted" Louis van Gaal.
But United's inability to arrive at a settled line-up afforded Rojo a chance to prove himself again this season. While the world has been arguing about Paul Pogba, goalscoring, and the nebulous notion of style, a number of squad members have made notable improvements this season under Mourinho, and Rojo is perhaps the most improved of all. He's found positional focus and just a touch of sensible discipline* to go along with his undoubted enthusiasm, and so has moved from potential liability to acceptable defensive presence.
And then, with his unfortunate injury, to actively missed player. Could have got decent odds on that a few months ago.
Ultimately, it's been a while since United have had a defender that strikers actively dislike playing against, and while Rojo probably isn't ever going to be as intimidating as Nemanja Vidic, he's definitely really annoying. Just ask Diego Costa.
* Most of the time. But even more magically, he also appears to be able to make lunging two-footed tackles without being sent off. The Busby Babe cannot, obviously, endorse such a technique, jeopardising as it does the structural integrity of any nearby shinbones. But if a defender is going to do such a thing — and Rojo, it appears, absolutely is — then the knack of not being dismissed is a handy one to have.
Jose Mourinho approval rating: A vigorous squeeze of both shoulders.