It has been a frustrating season for Marcos Rojo. Out until November with an ACL injury, he struggled to force his way back into José Mourinho’s side, and ended up making only nine Premier League appearances through the entire campaign. He’s reportedly been onto the manager to complain about his game-time — or lack thereof — and could well be on his way this summer.
This writer has always been a Rojo apologist, but admittedly as much for entertainment value as anything else. In this post-Rafael da Silva age, we’re taking the tomfoolery wherever we can find it. The truth is, Rojo’s probably no better than Phil Jones or Chris Smalling, though also no worse. His ability to fill in at left-back makes him a useful backup option, but with defensive reinforcements likely (read: hopefully) to arrive this summer, his days appear to be numbered. JS
So many central defenders. Why are there so many? If there is structural evidence of the state of things since Alex Ferguson — the absolute state of things — then it comes in the fact that United ended this season with eight players capable of playing in central defence, and a ninth out on loan, and yet nobody seems particularly happy with any of them.*
Marcos Rojo is neatly emblematic of this institutional malaise: bought by Louis van Gaal after a decent World Cup that apparently “enchanted” the Dutchman; in and out of the first team since then, thanks to injury and form; and now, three seasons into his United career, still to make a case that he deserves another. Just like all the rest of them.
Personally, I’d keep Rojo over most of the rest of them, because he’s fun and they’re boring. But that’s why I don’t get to make the decisions. Decisions like this need to be made by a person, or by people, with the ability to identify the very best, and then to act on that identification. Wouldn’t that be nice? AT
* That’s Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof, Eric Bailly, Daley Blind, Michael Carrick, and Axel Tuanzebe, plus Timothy Fosu-Mensah, latterly of Crystal Palace.
We are now entering the fifth year of Marcos Rojo at United, which - if we are to learn anything from The Phil Jones Experience - is just about too long to still be wondering “Is he actually any good?” After his first two seasons, the answer to that question was: not particularly, but at least he’s entertaining. The following year, however, Rojo surprised most of us by being of the few players who can be said to have noticeably improved under José Mourinho. In fact, Rojo was arguably United’s best defender at the end of 2016-17.
Rojo failed to pick up from where he left off last season, unfortunately, and had his campaign disrupted by injuries. Even when he was fully fit towards the end of the season, he had slipped down the pecking order at center back. The Argentine is probably still Mourinho’s preferred understudy to Ashley Young at left-back, but that is mostly because of the manager’s unbridled hatred for Luke Shaw. So while it’s always fun to have a defender who can either boot an attacker straight off the pitch or try an ill-advised rabona in his own box at any given time, there seems to be little point in persevering with Rojo for much longer. BM
Verdict: Sell, if a decent offer comes along.