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14th Dec 2016

“An aggressive, clean player!” – Jose Mourinho did not want to comment on Marcos Rojo’s challenge

"Rojo is playing phenomenally!"

Darragh Murphy

Back-to-back victories ought to have put Jose Mourinho in a cheerier mood as the hectic festive fixture list draws closer.

But Manchester United’s performance against Crystal Palace was not without negative incident and one of the many significant decisions, of which there were several incorrect, on Wednesday night was the yellow card shown to Marcos Rojo in the first half.

It was almost universally agreed that the United defender should have seen red for a reckless tackle on Palace winger Wilfried Zaha which saw Rojo leave the ground and lunge with both feet in the direction of Zaha’s ankles.

For the second time in two weeks, a horror challenge from the Argentine was punished with just a booking as Rojo also remained on the pitch after levelling Everton full back Seamus Coleman a fortnight ago.

The fact that Rojo is gaining something of a reputation for dangerous tackles should start playing on Mourinho’s mind as sooner rather than later referees are going to find themselves keeping a keener eye on his challenges.

But the United boss refused to be drawn into speaking about the shocking nature of Rojo’s lunge when interviewed by BT Sport following their 2-1 victory at Selhurst Park.

“No!” Mourinho defiantly answered when asked for comment on the challenge.

Manchester United Training and Press Conference

“Rojo is playing phenomenally. Jones is playing phenomenally.”

When pressed, Mourinho brought up recent challenges from the likes of Spurs’ Danny Rose (on Henrikh Mkhitaryan at the weekend) and Chelsea’s David Luiz (on Marouane Fellaini in October) to suggest that red card offences often receive lesser punishments and that it is not just the Red Devils who avail of leniency from referees.

The Portuguese then assured the interviewer that Rojo is a clean player who is enjoying his run in the first team.

“I didn’t discuss Danny Rose’s tackle. I didn’t discuss David Luiz’s tackle. I’m not going to discuss Marcos Rojo’s tackle,” he continued.

“[He’s an] aggressive, clean player playing probably the best football of his career.”

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