By Andy Jones
- Both Jones and Smalling have seen their desire questioned by Mourinho
- Rojo has joined Jones and Smalling in the treatment room in the last week
With Phil Jones and Chris Smalling both being out long-term, the centre back pairing of Marcus Rojo, and summer signing Eric Bailly had to step up and play consecutive matches until Rojo joined Jones and Smalling on the sidelines.
The much maligned Rojo, a remnant of the Louis Van Gaal era, has probably been one of this seasons most improved players under Jose Mourinho.
The jury is still out as to whether he should ever be deployed as a left back, but he looks assured, despite the odd rush of blood as a centre half.
Following his knee injury against Anderlecht. Argentinian centre-back Rojo looks set to out until the early months of the 2017/18 season.
His defensive partner, Eric Bailly looks equally at home, now he is getting a run of games, having had a first season at Old Trafford disrupted by injury and African Cup of nations duty.
Bailly started the season in fine form, winning back to back man of the match awards, and being named United’s player of the month for August.
So it’s no surprise that he has recaptured his early form, and is justifying the reported £30 million it took to sign him from Villarreal in the summer, and aged only 23, he will surely mature into a key figure of Mourinho’s United for years to come.
Mourinho Has Questioned Desire Of Jones And Smalling In Recent Weeks
With these two benefitting from am extended run in the team, where does it leave the duo of Jones and Smalling?.
The fact they have not been missed even remotely, highlights just how far their stock has fallen.
Jones’ United career has stuttered due to constant injury, some might say in part due to the gung-ho way the player throws himself into every tackle. he lacks the finesse of a Ferdinand or a Jaap Stam, despite having so much potential when Sir Alex signed him from Blackburn.
Since signing in 2011, he has only made 118 appearances for the club, and is perhaps known for his comical facial expressions during matches than for his commanding defensive displays.
His partner in crime, Chris “Mike” Smalling, is also failing to live up to expectation, always suspect to an error during a match, United must surely be setting their sights much higher for a defensive partner for Bailly, if they really do want to challenge for the top honours once more.
Surely A Defender Or Two Will Be Arriving In The Summer
The issue facing Jose Mourinho, and one which has been noticeable for the past few seasons, is that there is a real lack of quality centre backs in the game at present.
Manchester City, Barcelona, Arsenal along with United would all highlight this position as one which they would need to strengthen in the summer.
The fact City paid £50million for John Stones highlights the lack of available talent.
With the likes of Hummels, Chiellini, Pique and Ramos probably in the “unobtainable” category in terms of summer transfer targets.
No doubt Jose will have his transfer targets lined up for this summer, and having had a full season to work with the current squad, will know who is in and who is out of the door at Old Trafford.
I suspect either one, or both of Jones and Smalling will be deemed surplus to requirements.