Jose Mourinho has endured a turbulent first six months in charge of Manchester United. The former Chelsea boss signed a clutch of very exciting players: Paul Pogba has been excellent of late; Zlatan Ibrahimovic has notched 11 goals while Henrikh Mkhitaryan is reproducing the form that won him the Bundesliga Player of the Year last season.
Then there’s Eric Bailly, the young Ivory Coast international purchased from Villarreal. Until he was injured in October, Bailly was a strong, confident and commanding presence in United’s defence. The eyebrows raised when United paid handsomely for his services in the summer are lowered; Bailly answered his critics emphatically.
Mourinho’s biggest issue remains unresolved: what is his best defensive partnership? Eric Bailly is the best defender at the club but who to pair him with? Rojo and Jones have settled well in the absence of the Ivory Coast international and Chris Smalling.
The pairing Mourinho tried was Bailly and Blind but that damaged the Dutchman’s cause; it won’t be any surprise to see him leave next year. Smalling wasn’t much better and questions loom over him regarding his future. The England international has never lived up to expectations since joining from Fulham.
Rojo – Answer Or Cast-Off?
Which leaves Marcos Rojo. The Argentinian defender signed from Sporting Lisbon two years ago under Louis van Gaal, spent a large chunk of his second season at the club injured or playing at left back. It was an underwhelming experiment with many United fans writing him off by the time Mourinho took over.
The Daily Mail suggest that there still remains a chance of Rojo leaving the club during the Portuguese’s first season in charge. Bayer Leverkusen are monitoring Rojo’s situation but know it won’t be a cheap deal. United will look to recoup the £16m they spent on him two years ago.
United and Leverkusen enjoy cordial relations. Javier Hernandez left United for the German club a year ago in a quickly arranged transfer. The only question for Mourinho is whether Rojo deserves a part in his long-term plans for the club? He’s been in impressive form of late, stepping into the side in the absence of Bailly and Smalling. That might be enough to convince his manager to retain his services, at least for a little while.