After two dangerous, lunging tackles in a week, Marcos Rojo has the support of his manager Jose Mourinho.
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He’s about the only person who doesn’t seem to have a problem with these kind of challenges.
In the first half of Manchester United’s 2-1 win at Crystal Palace on Wednesday, Rojo launched into a two-footed lunge on Palace’s winger Wilfried Zaha and was only shown a yellow card by referee Craig Pawson.
That decision incensed Palace’s players and coaching staff and even though Zaha had seen the challenge coming and pulled out at the last minute, if he didn’t it was a leg-breaker.
Rojo, 26, should’ve been sent off but after the game Mourinho defended his Argentine defender.
“He is playing phenomenal. He is playing really well. He’s a clean player,” Mourinho said. “Aggression is his nature. He’s Argentinian, emotional, but very clean. I didn’t comment on David Luiz on Fellaini. I didn’t comment on Rose on Mkhitaryan. I am not going to comment on this one.”
The latest lunging tackle from Rojo was very, very similar to his challenge on Everton’s Idrissa Gueye 10 days ago in United’s 1-1 draw at Goodison Park. On both occasions the former Sporting Lisbon defender was lucky to get away with not being sent off and in the modern game it’s stunning he wasn’t shown a red card on Wednesday.
There is no place for this kind of tackle in the game and the fact that Pawson saw it but only booked Rojo makes it worse. The referee made a mistake. United should’ve been down to 10-men in the first half on Wednesday at Selhurst Park.
Maybe Mourinho’s men are starting to get back some of the lucky breaks he felt his side haven’t been getting for much of the season.
Make no mistake about it though, Rojo will be a marked man for the rest of the season and he has to cut out the archaic lunging tackles before he not only costs his team by being sent off but also costs a fellow professional their career.