Jose Mourinho has bemoaned the knee ligament injuries suffered by both Zlatan Ibrahimovic and Marcos Rojo during Manchester United’s 2-1 win over Anderlecht last Thursday.
The Swede was forced off during the win over Rene Weiler’s men after landing awkwardly on the stroke of full time; Rojo had been stretchered off after just 23 minutes.
It was confirmed in the aftermath that both players had suffered “significant” knee ligament injuries and would require surgery, ruling them out of action over the next month or so at least.
And Mourinho, speaking to Sky Sports, noted that the injuries had come at a horrible time for both players.
“It is a big blow but we are really sad for them, not for us as a team, because they are much more important than us,” he said.
“The injuries are really big. No player deserves to be injured. These two cases are even sadder because for Zlatan, in this phase of his career, it is really, really hard.
“Marcos was probably in the best moment of his career. He was playing very, very well for us and also getting, finally, a position as a central defender in the [Argentina] national team so I am really sad for them.”
Nobody can deny that this double injury blow could define the way Man United’s season pans out. Rojo, ever since enmeshing himself in the first team back in November, has quickly morphed into the focal point of the side’s back four in similar fashion to Chris Smalling last season. His presence, one suspects, will be missed when it comes to visits to the likes of Manchester City, Tottenham Hotspur and Arsenal.
The potentially sapping effect of Zlatan’s injury almost goes without saying: 28 goals and, above all, a bombastic, arrogant presence that has galvanised the side this season – Mourinho will, in response, be able to use Anthony Martial and Marcus Rashford in his place, but a sense of incompleteness will be very much tangible nonetheless.