Isn’t it great to see Eric Bailly back playing regularly for Manchester United?
The Ivorian stepped in against Wolves again last night and played a key part in United keeping a clean sheet. Bailly made four interceptions and looked assured all game long.
His performance meant Victor Lindelof was not missed, and has given Ole Gunnar Solskjaer a positive selection problem for when the Swede is fit.
Bailly’s display managed to bust three myths around him in the process…
‘He can’t play with Harry Maguire’ – Wrong
Up until recently, Eric Bailly and Harry Maguire have not always been on the same page, and this is one of the reasons why Lindelof has been a regular instead.
We all remember their clash of heads in the FA Cup semi-final, and the disastrous defending in the 6-1 defeat at home to Tottenham, in which both players (and a few more) were culpable for errors.
In this game, and with the clean sheet against Everton, Bailly and Maguire have shown a strong understanding.
Bailly has the pace to cover Maguire’s lack of it, and there was one occasion in the first half in which the pair worked particularly well to nullify a Wolves attack when they got into a good position inside the penalty area.
Only by playing together regularly can they gain an understanding, and this injury enforced absence for Lindelof can provide Bailly with a run in the side.
Axel Tuanzebe is in the mix too, but Bailly has emerged as the top option at the moment to partner Maguire. He was given a chance, and he seized it.
‘He can’t pass the ball out from the back’ – Wrong
One of the worst memories of the Spurs defeat involved Eric Bailly passing the ball straight to a Tottenham attacker as they went on to score a fourth goal. It asked a question not specifically of Bailly’s defensive ability, but whether he was the right fit for Solskjaer’s instructions to pass the ball out from the back.
In this game he was very effective at doing so. Up until the 75th minute, Bailly had completed 100 per cent of his passes. He barely put a foot wrong after that, ending up with a 95 per cent completion rate.
His only missteps came when he tried to play the ball long. When he kept it simple and played it short, Bailly got it spot on.
Against a team which presses more, Bailly will come under more scrutiny, but on this occasion he passed the test.
‘His body can’t hold up’ – Wrong
Not long ago it was an achievement for Eric Bailly to play one game in a week.
Over the past seven days, he has started and played 90 minutes in three consecutive games.
This is quite an achievement for him, considering he has never played three games in a seven day stretch before in his Manchester United career. He did so in an eight day span in his first season in 2016/17.
Bailly’s durability will be judged over the long term. If he goes down injured in the next game, questions will rise again. But what he has done in the past few days has been so impressive, and will fill United with encouragement.
If he really has turned a corner with his fitness, he could become one of United’s top two defenders.
- Manager says Mourinho tried to sign international striker when he was Manchester United boss
- Manchester United caught napping by Prem club's 'game-changing' £33m midfielder deal
- Exclusive: Spanish football expert reacts to Martial deal, whether Sevilla can afford him permanently
- Uruguay manager and South American press react to Facundo Pellistri's debut performance
- Manchester United warned 'extraordinary offer' required to sign midfielder
- Karim Benzema sends message to Manchester United star
- Report: Young Manchester United forward set for medical ahead of imminent loan move
- Manager delighted to sign 'wonderful' Manchester United defensive talent on loan
- Talented Manchester United duo celebrate after making their full international debuts