Manchester United’s Premier League season gets underway next weekend when the Red Devils host Crystal Palace.
So far United have only completed one signing, giving manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer limited options to changing up his starting XI.
There is one change the manager should make, involving players already at the club, and that is at centre-back.
Bailly over Lindelof
United should begin the season with Eric Bailly as Harry Maguire’s defensive partner instead of Victor Lindelof.
Lindelof ended the season poorly, culpable for key goals conceded against Sevilla, Southampton and Chelsea over the last month, all in crucial games.
It was a big call to bring Lindelof back in over Bailly for the Europa League semi-final, and he blew the opportunity.
Bailly was one of United’s best players in the quarter-final win over Copenhagen, and has barely put a foot wrong since returning to fitness in January.
After returning impressively in a 2-0 win over Chelsea at Stamford Bridge, Bailly somewhat harshly did not start another Premier League game all season.
Instead his opportunities came in cup competitions, and rarely did he let United down, conceding just three goals in more than 700 minutes of football played.
The knock against Bailly has always been his injuries, but this past season he has stayed fit since recovering from his knee problem, barring the unfortunate clash of heads in the FA Cup semi-final.
It is time for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer to give Bailly the reins, and let him show what he can do as a starter, with a regular run in the team.
Bailly has the alertness and speed which Lindelof often lacks, and he could be a better complement to Harry Maguire.
Lindelof is also reported to be feeling drained after a long season and short break, according to his international boss.
After he was left out of Sweden’s match with Portugal, Sweden boss Janne Andersson told Fotball Skanalen: “[Lindelöf] played with Manchester United up until a few weeks ago and joined us after vacation.
“He was tired. We talked beforehand about him only playing one game. After the game against France, he felt very worn down.”
The start of the season is an ideal time for United to make the change, and bring Bailly in for the first match against Crystal Palace, and challenge him to make the position his.
Bailly will likely be feeling a tad frustrated after his omission against Sevilla, on top of his lack of gametime last season.
With a long campaign ahead, this is the perfect time to put the relatively fresh Ivorian into the starting line up and let him show what he can do.
Bailly deserves a fair run in the side, and United will want to see if he is finally over his fitness and durability problems.
This is a key change United can make to start the season, and it is one which can make the team better.
Whether Bailly can and will hold up and stay fit, ultimately we do not know, but he deserves the opportunity to try.
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