After Manchester United’s visit to West Ham on Sunday, I saw one tweet that read ‘United have found a legitimate replacement for Vidic in Rojo’, a bit premature, surely? However since Marcos Rojo’s return from injury versus Queens Park Rangers last month, he has become a permanent fixture in United’s defence, starting every game since, and prior to that he had started every game when available, either as a centre back or left back.
On this basis, it seems as if Rojo is a favourite of Louis van Gaal, and amongst the fans too, which is no surprise when dumb, dumber, and dumber (i.e. Jonny Evans, Phil Jones, and Chris Smalling) are failing to make any sort of positive impact during any given opportunity. Then again, despite United’s support taking a liking to Rojo, as has, Van Gaal, is he any better than what United already have – or rather is he the real deal?
To his credit, Rojo is very versatile, or ‘multi-functional’ according to Van Gaal. He can easily operate at centre back, either in a flat back four or in an unconventional back five, and at left back too. He also has great ball skills, carrying the ball from defence into midfield, a feat that is not only key to Van Gaal’s chosen play style, but comes less at ease to United’s competing defensive trio. To add, his Argentinian background makes him no slouch when holding his own against the rough and tumble of the Barclays Premier League.
It must be said, like his defensive counterparts, Rojo, too, can improve on several parts of his game. None more so than his sense of control, a lack of which saw him pick up an unfortunate injury against Manchester City earlier this season, leading to weeks on the sidelines. However, into his first season, Rojo, seemingly, has time on his hands to better his overall game. Then again, with constant speculation surrounding United’s pursuit of one, or even two new centre backs, with Mats Hummels being the outstanding candidate, Rojo’s future isn’t completely guaranteed.
For a player that Van Gaal hadn’t initially intended on signing, as rumours have suggested, Rojo has had a promising start to this united career – helped by David De Gea’s excellence of course, but who hasn’t? With improvements to his performance, Rojo certainly has the potential to one day replace Nemanja Vidic, maybe not like-for-like but definitely through his own identity.
This article was written and researched by Jake Hartigan. You can follow him on Twitter.