Analysing Eric Bailly's Premier League debut for Manchester United at Bournemouth

The signing of 22-year-old centre-half Eric Bailly from Villarreal for a fee in the region of £30 million raised several eyebrows at Old Trafford. The Ivorian was recruited on a four-year contract and was the first player to enter the door in the Mourinho era at Manchester United.

The defence was actually a plus point for the Red Devils last season, having shipped a mere 35 Premier League goals under Louis Van Gaal. The Special One however, with the future of Marcos Rojo in doubt, has seen fit to add to his rear-guard options in order to mould a defence orientated towards playing the ball out from the back and despite not being the household name expected by United fans as Mourinho’s first signing, the youngster has already begun to bed in well at Old Trafford.

 

He made his competitive debut for Manchester United in the FA Community Shield triumph against Leicester City and was named man of the match. His Premier League debut at Bournemouth went equally as well, United overcoming the Cherries 3-1 on the South Coast with another man of the match accolade for Bailly, a sterling start to his Manchester United career.

Bailly featured in the heart of the United defence alongside Dutchman Daley Blind, and he looked assured and solid throughout the contest against Bournemouth’s attacking trio consisting of Joshua King, Jordan Ibe and Callum Wilson. It was against the former of the three where Bailly announced his presence early in the game, a no-nonsense, strong challenge on Joshua King  which set the tone for an impressive debut where he was a commanding presence in central defence.

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The central defensive partnership between Bailly and Blind helped restrict Bournemouth to a mere three shots on target. He was comfortable playing the ball out from defence, with a 95.1% pass completion rate, was not shy of tackling when necessary with three vital challenges including his first on Joshua King, with a further two key interceptions for his team.

 

His presence was particularly vital in the first-half, with Zlatan Ibrahimovic taking time to get going and Manchester United having to probe to break down a resolute Bournemouth defence. It was five minutes prior to half-time when the Red Devils found a way through, with Juan Mata prodding home on the rebound after the normally reliable Simon Francis sold goalkeeper Artur Boruc short with an underhit back-pass.

United found another gear in the second half and a Wayne Rooney header followed by a trademark long-range Zlatan Ibrahimovic strike put the Red Devils into cruise control before Adam Smith’s consolation for Bournemouth. Bailly, meanwhile, finished the game with seven clearances from inside his own penalty area to go with his pass completion rate, and number of tackles and interceptions.

 

Known for racking up a large number of bookings at Villarreal, Bailly’s discipline was exceptional at Bournemouth for United, which may be a sign of the player flourishing under the man-management of the Special One. His timing in his three challenges was superb, and he never looked like giving away the ball and conceding fouls in dangerous areas when he came out of defence after having fallen victim to being found wanting in possession earlier in his career. At 22, he is still developing, but on this performance, he will develop into a very capable centre-half indeed at Old Trafford.

Under Van Gaal, United became unstuck at the Vitality Stadium last season, whereas this was a solid start under Mourinho with Bailly one of the bright sparks. They were slow out of the blocks, though it was in this time where Bailly’s calming presence was of critical importance and as the Special One looks to restore the fear factor about United that has somewhat dissolved since the retirement of Sir Alex Ferguson, United fans can be hopeful that in Bailly, Mourinho has signed another defender in the same mould as Rio Ferdinand or Nemanja Vidic.


Featured Image: All Rights Reserved by ninhthuan510

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