Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has praised Eric Bailly ahead of Manchester United’s trip to Brighton tomorrow.
United were shaky at the back in the 3-1 defeat against Crystal Palace which kicked off the season, with Victor Lindelof particularly culpable.
When asked about signing a new central defender this summer, Solskjaer told his press conference streamed at 9:30am via MUTV he was looking forward to seeing Bailly play more games this season.
“I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best,” Solskjaer said.
“Last week wasn’t fantastic, we conceded sloppy goals but I think our defensive record from last season showed with Eric and Harry how good a partnership they were, but also defending as a team.
“Eric is fit again, which is a big, big bonus and a big plus for us, and I’m looking forward to seeing him develop and play more games this season.
“Because we’ve been waiting for him to, first, be fit and play more regularly.”
It was the second week running that Solskjaer went out of his way to namecheck and praise Bailly in his pre-match press conference.
Last week, he shared how impressed he’d been with the Ivorian in training and tipped him for a big role this season.
Perhaps United’s defensive record with Bailly in the side has gone under the radar, and it definitely deserves credit.
In 870 minutes of first team action, Bailly has conceded just three goals, against Norwich, Bournemouth and LASK.
United went on to win all three of those matches, which further underlines Bailly’s influence.
Of course United conceded three in 90 minutes against Palace last weekend, with only a mistimed run from Wilfried Zaha and the offside flag sparing a fourth.
Solskjaer’s mention of Maguire and Bailly as a partnership was noteworthy and it is this pairing which should take to the field against Brighton.
Maguire is a very good Premier League level defender but what he lacks is pace.
Bailly provides that in abundance. That should help United against speedy frontlines like Palace’s last week, especially when there is space behind them to exploit.
The first step is for Solskjaer to pick Bailly in the league. Then, it’s a case of proving he can stay fit, that the rotten luck he’s had with injuries is behind him.
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