The box score only shows a yellow card for Marcos Rojo in the 16th minute, but the game tells a much different tale.
Early on in a physical battle, minutes after Gareth Barry seemed to have been let off without punishment for a hard foul on Zlatan Ibrahimovic, Rojo left his feet and flew in with both studs up on Idrissa Gueye. Referee Michael Oliver showed him only a caution, but replays showed that Rojo was airborne for a moment, and his crunching challenge landed directly on Gueye’s right leg.
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Looking at the moment of impact, it seems a miracle that Gueye was able to pop straight up from the challenge without so much as a scratch, as it could have been much, much worse had Rojo’s feet landed in a vulnerable spot on the Everton midfielder’s leg. Referees never like to condemn a team to such a disadvantage in the early stages of a game, but this seemed to be an incredibly dangerous moment.
Everton ended up with a 1-1 draw in the match after former Everton midfielder Marouane Fellaini conceded a late penalty just two minutes after coming off the bench, but the Toffees likely would have benefitted even greater from playing 74 minutes with a man advantage.
Did Rojo deserve a red card? Or did Michael Oliver get the decision right? The guys in studio at halftime seemed to agree that Rojo should have been sent to the showers.
Argentine international defender Marcus Rojo has completed his move to Manchester United.
Following a summer long transfer saga after his impressive displays at the 2014 World Cup, Rojo, 24, has signed for United from Sporting Lisbon on a five-year deal.
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The defender joined Sporting from Spartak Moscow in 2012 and also played for Estudiantes in Argentina before heading to Europe.
With United short on options in central defense since losing veterans Nemanja Vidic and Rio Ferdinand this summer, Rojo’s addition is key as Louis van Gaal’s continues his rebuild. So far this summer transfer activity has been slow for the team who finished seventh in the PL last season, with only Luke Shaw and Ander Herrera arriving at the club.
Speaking to the club website, United’s manager had the following to say about Rojo.
“Marcos is a very gifted defender,” van Gaal said. “He has played at the highest level in world football and can play either as a central defender or left-back. He has ability, physical strength and a willingness to learn that means he has a very bright future ahead of him. He had a very strong World Cup and has been playing in Europe for a couple of years now. He is a very good addition to the team.”
Rojo played in all six of Argentina’s games at the World Cup as the South American’s lost to Germany in the final after extra time. His strength in the air, speed and quality distribution led to a number of teams enquriing about his services but United have snapped him up after a challenging pursuit. Rojo threw his toys out of the pram as Sporting dug their heels in on the transfer fee and he refused to play for the Portuguese club. He has since apologized for that outburst.
At United he will compete with Chris Smalling, Phil Jones and Johnny Evans for one of the three central defense positions in van Gaal’s preferred 3-5-2 formation.
With less than two weeks to go until the summer transfer window slams shut, United will be hoping a few more players follow Rojo through the entrance at Old Trafford as van Gaal’s rebuilding work continues.