Eric Bailly has been talking to ESPN about his return to action for Manchester United.
Bailly made his return in-mid February against Chelsea after spending the previous few months battling back from a knee injury sustained in pre-season.
The Ivorian said he was thrilled with how his comeback went, with United winning 2-0 at Stamford Bridge. He had a few individual highlights too, with a fantastic sliding block to deny a goalscoring opportunity.
He said: “If you’ve not been playing for a long time, in a league as strong as this one, the truth is that it’s hard.
“Imagine with an injury as long as mine too! But the truth is, I’ve been lucky with my teammates to have their help and support and I had a phenomenal return.
“It was a difficult match against Chelsea, my first match back, and thank god that we won.”
Followed it up impressively
We have written previously about how well manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has handled Bailly’s return.
He has ensured he has not been over-played amid a busy schedule, and Bailly has stepped up impressively when given a chance.
In 372 minutes of action in the Premier League, FA Cup and Europa League since returning, Bailly has not conceded a single goal.
He has been an asset to a defensive team unit which has been an integral part of United’s recent unbeaten run.
Bailly has looked like the player the club spent £30 million on in 2016, and is clearly a big part of United’s plans, even though he has a battle with Victor Lindelof to be first choice.
Bailly is happier than ever at United and spoke highly of manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, praising his man-management skills.
He said: “He always communicates well. He gives you so much confidence.”
The centre-back is totally committed to United and comments about the club make a mockery of an article in The Mirror in February which said he was being frozen out of the first team and could consider an exit.
Bailly said: “To just sign to play for Man United is a dream. To be a part of a team this big is the best thing.
“That’s why I’m so proud to play for Man United and that’s why I give everything I can when I’m out on the pitch. I will literally give all my strength to this club.”
The Ivory Coast international is an extrovert on the pitch. He takes occasional risks which other defenders wouldn’t even contemplate, but judges situations well, rarely being caught out.
His style makes him a real fan favourite and while his ‘total commitment’ approach has also played a part in his injury struggles, it is part of what makes him who he is.
There is potential for United to play him as part of a back three with Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire, which has the potential to take United to a whole new level.
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