Manchester United defender Marcos Rojo struggled to return to fitness in the early stages of the season following his country’s run to the Copa America final in the summer. After an encouraging debut season in English football in 2014-15, it didn’t seem clear where the 25-year-old Argentinian was going to fit into United’s team this campaign.
However, the horrific injury to Luke Shaw meant Rojo, who can also play as a centre-back, was given the chance to play at left-back and overall he has impressed ever since.
Rojo seems to have regained his full match fitness and the fact he has started United’s last six games clearly proves the former Sporting Lisbon man is beginning to cement his place in the United line-up.
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WHY IS HE PLAYING?
Shaw’s season ended in horrific fashion when he broke his leg in Eindhoven and that is the biggest reason why Rojo has become a regular starter for United over the past month or so. At the time, 20-year-old Shaw was in outstanding form and probably the first name on Louis van Gaal’s teamsheet.
The fitness problems of Antonio Valencia and the recent inconsistency of summer signing Matteo Darmian has meant Van Gaal has had little option but to pick Rojo. Daley Blind could have been another potential option at full-back, but the versatile Dutchman has been picked at centre-back for the entirety of this season.
In United’s pivotal 1-0 win over CSKA Moscow on Tuesday night, Rojo defended very well, especially when up against the electric pace of Nigerian forward Ahmed Musa. Van Gaal’s men attacked vociferously down the left-hand side and the Argentine was a constant option when United went forward.
He provided width alongside youngster Jesse Lingard and delivered a number of crosses from his flank. In a strong all-round performance, Rojo even had four attempts on goal, more than any other player on the pitch.
Rojo’s best performance so far this season came in Man United’s 3-0 victory at Goodison Park last month. He was simply dominant in every one-on-one situation, he defended impeccably and provided a fantastic cross to assist Ander Herrera’s headed goal.
Prior to United’s 1-1 draw in Russia against CSKA Moscow, Rojo (formerly of Spartak Moscow) received criticism from the Russian press and the Argentine produced a nervy display in that game. His decision-making was poor and he struggled to deal with the speed and movement of both Seydou Doumbia and Musa.
However, Rojo’s biggest shortcoming was his inability to stop the marauding forward runs of CSKA’s Brazilian right-back, Mario Fernandes.
This said, Rojo’s energy, tough-tackling style and proficient defensive capabilities in general, make him a better choice at left-back than anyone else currently available for selection at Old Trafford.