Ole Gunnar Solskjaer surprised everybody when he named Manchester United’s starting line up against Brighton.
After talking up Eric Bailly ahead of the game, Solskjaer went with Victor Lindelof.
It was an odd choice after Lindelof’s costly error prone performance against Crystal Palace one week earlier.
Solskjaer may have decided he wanted to show some loyalty towards Lindelof, but the same faith was not shown in Dan James, who did not even make the matchday squad.
Lindelof’s inclusion in the starting line up raised the question of accountability. Surely if a player puts in such a terrible performance, they deserve to lose their spot?
United’s squad should be competitive, and players must feel there is a chance of breaking into the team.
Against Brighton Lindelof had a better performance, as in, he did not make any key errors, but United’s defence did not look assured against Brighton and were far too passive.
Why was Bailly left out?
Solskjaer talked up Eric Bailly ahead of the game in his press conference, following an impressive performance as United kept a clean sheet against Luton.
Bailly had conceded just three goals in 870 minutes of first team football in 2020 heading into the weekend.
At some point he deserves to be given a run. Bailly has pace, strength, and alertness, and could be an upgrade on Lindelof if he is picked on a regular basis.
Concerns over his fitness can no longer be used as an excuse not to pick him, not at present when he has stayed fit all year, barring a clash of heads in the FA Cup semi-final.
If Ole Gunnar Solskjaer mistrusts Bailly’s fitness so much that he cannot bear to pick him to start Premier League games, then he needs to sign a new centre-back.
Bailly has only started one league game all season, and that was against Chelsea in February when Lindelof was ruled out before kick-off, and United kept a clean sheet.
United have to either give Bailly a chance to better Lindelof, or move on from him. The Swede’s performances just are not good enough for him to be an unquestioned starter.
Bailly will probably come back into the line up on Wednesday night when United take on Brighton.
But against Tottenham next Sunday, Solskjaer will probably end up going with Victor Lindelof again.
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