Victor Lindelof came in for plenty of criticism on the opening day of the season, with him playing a part in all three of the goals Manchester United conceded against Crystal Palace.
Ahead of our game against Brighton, Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has talked about the benefits of having Eric Bailly back fit.
I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best. Yeah, last week [against Crystal Palace] wasn’t fantastic – we conceded sloppy goals, but our defensive record from last season shows with [Victor Lindelof] and Harry [Maguire] how good a partnership they were. It’s the whole team, defending as a team. Eric is fit again, which is a big bonus 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… well, first, be fit and then to play more regularly.
Eric’s had so many niggly injuries but also serious ones because of his playing style. He’s now getting to the age where he’s maturing, he’s getting more experience and I think we saw a more experienced Eric and a confident Eric. Of course it was his first 90 minutes but he’ll be strong this season, hopefully.
While Lindelof has proven weak in the challenge on too many occasions, it’s not as if Bailly is without problems. Aside from how injury prone he is, he’s made plenty of mistakes himself during his time at United. His performances against PSG, for example, during Solskjaer’s first season as manager, were bad enough to make you think he’d never play for the club again. In the second leg, he was subbed off after just half an hour after getting torn apart time and again, before United went on to claim a historic 3-1 win.
In 2002, United signed world class Rio Ferdinand for the same fee we paid for Lindelof and Bailly. Some times you unearth gems but, more often than not, you get what you pay for. There’s no doubt that United overpaid for Harry Maguire, whose lack of pace sees him too often unable to stop speedy forwards, but the reality is United have collectively spent a lot on the defence but too often they come up short.
Will Solskjaer revert to a Bailly-Maguire partnership for Brighton?