Many Manchester United fans are excited to witness the new beginnings at the club. It comes as no surprise that this is an ever-changing, roller-coaster time at Manchester United, and it seems the foundations are already being laid for a successful season. Manchester United’s new defender Eric Bailly is proving he is an example of this, and he is raring to go every bit as much as his fans this season.
Bailly joined United from Villarreal on the 8th June with a reputation as one of the best young defenders in world football right now, and he’s made it clear he really wants to bring that same quality to Manchester. Strong in the tackle, brave and aggressive the way United fans love their defenders, Bailly has all the attributes necessary to become a top, top defender, and he’s already stated the importance of hitting the ground running in Manchester.
“I think it’s very important that I settle in quickly, I hope that with the coaching staff and the help of my team-mates that this process will be as quick as possible. It’s important to pick up the dynamic and the tempo of the football here as soon as the season starts. And as I say, hopefully with the help of everyone here I can do that quickly.”
There has been much debate as to whether Bailly is ready to start for Manchester United or not, but these words will impress fans who have yet to see Bailly in United red. For now, the argument is between Bailly and current centre-back Daley Blind, who is naturally a midfielder and Bailly generally wins the argument.
However, it is far easier to come up with reasons for Blind to start instead. Bailly is an incredible athlete with promising ability in defence, but Blind already has an excellent partnership with Smalling and was a mainstay in the best defence in the Premier League last season. Blind is an excellent player of the ball and, in the right system, has the necessary protection in midfield.
Blind’s passing and ball playing is the perfect complement to Smalling’s physical, ball-winning presence in the defence, while Bailly represents a very similar figure to Smalling. While it would be interesting to see a partnership featuring Blind and Bailly, Smalling is a stalwart in United’s defence and will not be moved unless his performance level declines significantly.
The ideal solution would be the addition of a ball-playing central defender of high quality, and the names Aymeric Laporte and Raphael Varane have been frequented in the Manchester United media. With one of these two defenders, Bailly, Smalling and Blind as a utility player, United will have options of considerable quality with which to rotate the defence. Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo are also around, but there are doubts as to whether or not either will ever play for United again after Blind developed more than both in the space of a year.
Former Manchester United manager Louis van Gaal famously said that he wanted two quality options for each position, and United has built well for that in most positions. Centre-back, however, is not one of them, and Bailly’s signature goes a long way in resurrecting the issue that plagued the club since Rio Ferdinand and Nemanja Vidic fell from grace. Fans can only hope that Bailly delivers on his potential to become like one of those aforementioned duo, and in that case, they will have a world class defender to carry the side through the greatest of fixtures.