A dominant Manchester United win over Newcastle was marred by another failure to keep a clean sheet.

It is now 14 consecutive Premier League games since United have managed a shut out.

Different players have made errors at different times, and it is no use singling out individuals, but it is clear that what United are doing isn’t working.

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer needs to do something different, and fortunately a new option is nearly available.

Eric Bailly is nearing his return from a knee injury suffered in pre-season and rejoined full training just over a week ago.


(Photo by Will Russell/Getty Images)

Best partner?

Eric Bailly looked like a phenomenon in his first season at United in 2016/17.

He is capable of getting back to that level and if he can, he will become Harry Maguire’s best defensive partner.

Bailly is quick, reads the game well, and is strong in the air. His pace can help provide an ideal compliment for Maguire’s more physically imposing style.

The Lindelof-Maguire partnership is yet to click consistently, and while they might eventually get it working, Solskjaer owes it to United to experiment with Bailly.

Bailly was starting pre-season games under Solskjaer and seemed to have the manager’s faith.

(Photo by Ash Donelon/Manchester United via Getty Images)

Challenges ahead

Bailly has to prove himself both on the pitch in terms of quality, and fitness.

It is common for players to re-injure themselves in their first games back and Bailly has not had much luck. He needs it.

The Ivorian also has to prove he deserves to Victor Lindelof and Axel Tuanzebe.

In his favour is his proven past performances for the club, and strong showings in training can earn him a start. Competition for places is good for everybody at the club.

PremierInjuries.com project a possible comeback date as Wolves away in the FA Cup, which would provide a great opportunity to prove himself if he can help lead United to a first win in three attempts at Molineux.

United’s defence has not been terrible this season, 23 goals conceded in 19 games is a fair return and the seventh best in the league.

But it can improve. The lack of clean sheets shows the defence can get a lot better. The return of £30 million man Bailly has the potential to take it to a new level.

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