Ahead of our game against Brighton tomorrow night, Jose Mourinho has made an odd revelation about why Eric Bailly hasn’t been playing in recent weeks. Despite being our best defender, Mourinho has left him out of the team because he doesn’t have an international boss to impress ahead of the World Cup, as Ivory Coast didn’t qualify. In contrast, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling will all be hoping to get on a plane to Russia, with the latter not being chosen in the most recent England squad.
While this is nice of Mourinho, it’s strange that he wouldn’t be preparing our best players for the FA Cup final in two weeks time.
Bailly is fine, no injury. He is one of our five central defenders and honestly, my work is not about World Cups and preparing players for the World Cup or giving chances to players to do the World Cup, but he’s the only central defender whose country’s not in the World Cup.
So, if I have to make a kind of more emotional, effective choice to try to help my players, he’s the one I am not going to help until the end of the season. Because, of course, Marcos Rojo, Victor Lindelof, Phil Jones and Chris Smalling, all of them are wishing to make the squad for the World Cup and Eric is not under that pressure.
I try to be a good team manager and that means being cold, being selfish, but I am not as bad as that and I still have space for a little bit of feelings. So, when I look to the other four central defenders fighting for a position in the World Cup, I’m giving less [time] to Eric.