Victor Lindelof is good defender and has had games for Manchester United when he has outperformed Harry Maguire.
Even before Maguire’s arrival, Lindelof had his moments as a standout performer.
But there is something about Lindelof’s partnership with Maguire which just doesn’t click as it should.
Eric Bailly has shown this up in recent weeks. The Ivorian has been a colossus at the back since coming into the team and United look better as a result.
Made the leap
The semi-final against City last week highlighted where Lindelof and Maguire come short as a partnership.
For City’s opening goal they were too passive, both leaving the cross for John Stones to score. This would not have happened with Eric Bailly on the pitch.
Bailly is a proactive, aggressive defender who puts his body on the line and doesn’t mind getting hurt. He is the closest thing to Nemanja Vidic we have had since the Serbian retired.
He also makes Harry Maguire better. The England centre-back can be more forceful and take more gambles knowing he has a player alongside him who has the pace to cover.
Bailly made more interceptions than any United defender against Burnley. He is quick and he is developing a strong understanding with Maguire.
If Lindelof is named as a starter at Anfield it will disrupt the progress Bailly and Maguire are making, as well as being an unpopular decision with the fanbase.
Bailly has to stay fit
Bailly will be in and out of the side between now and the end of the season. United have to manage him sensibly.
He does not have the durability a player like Maguire, who featured in more than 50 games last season in all competitions.
Bailly has a terrible injury record and United have to use him sensibly between now and the end of the season.
For this reason, Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe will both have a big part to play between now and the end of the season too as United look to keep Bailly fit.
The big change should be that Bailly now gets the call for crucial matches, starting with Liverpool this weekend.
He has more than earned it. Bailly is performing as well as he has done for United in the past three years.
It is almost a case of ‘who should partner Bailly’, with Maguire and Lindelof in the fray, along with Tuanzebe. But Maguire’s role as captain stops this from becoming a real debate.
The past year has been a testing one for Bailly, for his patience. At one point it looked like it was just never going to click for him, with Solskjaer committed to the pairing of Maguire and Lindelof.
Now after Lindelof’s injury issues opened the door, Bailly has taken advantage. Now he needs the validation and backing of his manager to start him on Sunday at Anfield. Bailly will do the rest.
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