It is an indication of Marcos Rojo’s current standing at Manchester United that Axel Tuanzebe, who was on loan at Aston Villa last season, was initially selected ahead of him for Sunday’s clash with Liverpool.
But the youngster’s injury handed him an opportunity to play on the left of a back three and he produced a performance which was largely solid.
The Daily Mail reported in August that Ole Gunnar Solskjaer was open to selling Rojo to Everton, but the move never materialised, with only a loan move proposed.
So can his Sunday display provide a turning point in Rojo’s Old Trafford career or prove nothing but a flash in the pan?
Has Rojo saved his skin?
It says a lot that when a centre half comfortable with pulling wide onto the left was needed, Solskjaer did not initially turn to Rojo.
But he remains a fully-committed, experienced defender with over 50 caps for his country who operates in a position where United still require improvement.
It is amusing to see Manchester City struggle to deal with injuries to two central defenders when United’s backline struggles are such that six players in that position are needed to ensure enough fit options remain.
When he plays like Sunday – focused, calm and able to use his physicality to man-mark strikers – he remains an asset and anyone with the correct attitude should have enough chances to impress Solskjaer, such is the thinness of United’s squad.
Or a flash in the pan?
The challenge for every United player is to show they are capable of producing that level of spirit on a weekly basis.
Rojo has constantly flattered to deceive at Old Trafford, never quite showing the quality which has kept him in the Argentina setup for many years.
He often dives into tackles with far too much reckless abandon and his decision to leave Adam Lallana unmarked in order to mark space at the front post ultimately contributed to United dropping two points.
Rojo has at times proved a liability at left back too – he cannot be trusted to defend that zone with space in behind him and pace to deal with.
It remains to be seen whether Rojo can convince Solskjaer not to try and sell him once more when the transfer window reopens.
It’s likely to be a flash in the pan given Rojo’s history of inconsistency but he has set up himself up to take one final crack at saving his Old Trafford career. He must make the most of it.
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