Neville: What is encouraging about Mourinho’s new Man United centre-half pairing
The former Manchester United full-back delivers his verdict on Jose Mourinho's centre-half pairing Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo
Phil Neville says he has been encouraged by Manchester United’s new-look centre-halves after impressive performances against some of the Premier League’s best attacking players in recent weeks.
Jose Mourinho has been forced to utilise England defender Phil Jones and Argentina international Marcos Rojo in the absence of injured duo Eric Bailly and Chris Smalling over the past month or so.
Jones and Rojo helped the Red Devils ease to a 1-1 draw with title rivals Arsenal at Old Trafford last month after Olivier Giroud’s late equaliser cancelled out Juan Mata’s opener.
Mourinho’s new-look centre-half combination managed to keep a clean sheet on Sunday afternoon as Henrikh Mkhitaryan scored a first-half winner in a 1-0 victory over top-four rivals Tottenham Hotspur.
Former Manchester United defender Neville delivered his verdict on the Jones-Rojo partnership ahead of the Red Devils’ trip to Crystal Palace in the Premier League on Wednesday night.
“Mourinho has found a partnership that works in the centre too, with Jones and Marcos Rojo,” Neville told BBC Sport.
“The beauty of that is that they are a right and left-footed pairing and I also like the way they concentrate on defending and winning their duels rather than hitting 60 or 70-yard passes or dribbling out from the back.
“It works. You cannot say they have not been tested together yet because they have come up against three of the best strikers in the league in the past few weeks.
“Jones and Rojo kept Harry Kane completely quiet on Sunday, the same as they handled Arsenal’s Alexis Sanchez and Everton’s Romelu Lukaku, and they stopped all three of them from scoring.”
Bailly has returned from a knee injury to make his first Premier League appearance since October on Sunday afternoon from the bench.