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Analysing Eric Bailly’s solid performance for Manchester United against Swansea City

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Bailly

Eric Bailly’s contribution for Manchester United at Swansea City will be recorded in the headlines for his first career goal, but his performance was so much more than that as he produced a dominant display.

In truth, the Ivory Coast international’s day got off to a nightmare start as his rebound bounced back off of Jordan Ayew and set the striker on his way, racing through and almost giving his side the lead in the opening minutes only for his curled effort to hit the cross bar and come back into play.

From then on, United’s number three stepped up his game and was a reliable figure at the heart of the Manchester United defence. Alongside Phil Jones in the central defensive pairing, Bailly provided some much needed steel and was crucial to United’s aerial strength and keeping Chelsea loanee Tammy Abraham quiet.

His strength played a big part in that, but so too did his strength in the air. His reading of the game was also important, as it helped him to intercept moves before they could pick up on the England under 21 international’s movement in and around him as he tried to find half a yard of space.

It was that anticipation which earned him his first goal. Whilst the Swansea defence stood watching on as Paul Pogba’s header cannoned off the crossbar, Bailly was the first to the ball and got his studs onto it to ensure that it crossed the line and gave his side an all important lead going into the half-time break.

Bailly had been busy and had his work cut out at spells in the first half, but his dominant defending saw that his strike would be enough to set his side on their way to victory. Bailly seems increasingly to be the leader at the back for Jose Mourinho, and he will be hoping that the centre-back can sustain this superb form across the season.

Sam is a football journalist focusing on English football at all levels and Spanish football. He also writes for Spain's biggest daily sports newspaper, MARCA, as well as The Boot Room. Find Sam on Twitter at @samleveridge.

Manchester United

Marcus Rashford states claim for England start against Panama with purposeful cameo

Jamie Watts

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England put an end to the World Cup opener curse after Harry Kane’s stoppage time winner ensured England started the tournament with a victory, with Tunisia looking more than likely to take their share of the points in Volgograd.

After failing to capitalise on a plethora of first-half opportunities, a penalty – awarded using VAR – was given to Tunisia, and Ferjani Sassi equalised from the spot, heaping pressure on Gareth Southgate’s outfit deep into the second half.

There were a number of changes made to the squad since the preparation friendly against Costa Rica, with one absentee particularly noticeable in long-spells throughout the game, in the form of Manchester United star Marcus Rashford.

Photo: Getty Images

Following a sensational long-range goal in the previous game, the 20-year-old was left out of the starting line-up, and it can be argued that the side missed both his clinical edge in the first-half and his direct running for large periods of the second. The latter is pretty indisputable as his late cameo – 22 minutes from time – was full of the directness and purpose that England were missing in the quest for a second goal.

And England fans have taken to Twitter to demand that Rashford be picked to start in the next clash, against Panama on Sunday:

There seems to be a consensus among England supporters that Rashford should be considered a starter over his city rival Raheem Sterling, in the free centre-forward role behind captain Harry Kane, as the Manchester City man failed to really impact the game, bar a promising opening 20 minutes.

Despite the jubilant end to the game, the warning signs are there and adjustments will have to be made to ensure success in future games against teams operating at the highest level. The star-studded Belgium squad are in red-hot form at the moment, and Southgate has some tinkering to do to before the Three Lions are ready for the step-up in opposition.

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Manchester United

Tottenham should use opportunity to land PSG star Angel Di Maria

The Argentine superstar could be available this summer.

Jamie Watts

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Tottenham Hotspur manager Mauricio Pochettino is undoubtedly looking to bolster his attacking options this term, and a number of stellar names have been linked with moves to north London. But so far nothing has gathered any real traction on that front.

Reports from the Sun last month claimed Pochettino made Manchester United‘s Anthony Martial his priority target, but weeks later nothing is any closer to materialising with United asserting that the Frenchman remains in their plans for next season, in reports from Sky Sports.

Photo: Getty Images

Ironically, Tottenham may now have a brief window to land another star previously associated with United. Angel Di Maria could potentially be sold by French champions Paris Saint Germain this summer, as the club need to raise £52 million from player sales to conform with Financial Fair Play regulations, according to reports from Mediaset Premium.

Serie A giants Inter Milan and Napoli are said to be keen on bringing the ex-Real Madrid star to Italy next term, after the Argentine international’s role changed in Paris, due to the acquisitions of superstar forwards Kylian Mbappe and Neymar.

Currently, it seems Carlo Ancelotti is favourite to land the player’s signature should he leave, as Di Maria enjoyed the best period of his career under the Italian boss at the Bernabeu, and he could be keen to reunite with him in the near future.

Photo: Getty Images

However, Pochettino would be foolish to let a move for the 30-year-old go uncontested, as he looks to improve the supply line to Harry Kane this summer. Few are as creative as Di Maria, and he could instantly elevate Spurs to new levels next season.

After struggling and leaving Louis Van Gaal’s United in 2015, Di Maria has rediscovered form reminiscent of his best days, bagging an impressive 21 goals and 12 assists despite a limited role in the Parisians’ outfit last campaign.

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Manchester United’s pursuit of Milan Skriniar suggests Tottenham in clear over Toby Alderweireld

Manchester United are focusing their attention on an alternate target this week.

Jamie Watts

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Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is keen to bolster his squad ahead of a push for the Premier League title next term, with a move for Tottenham Hotspur‘s superstar defender Toby Alderweireld reportedly in the offing. However, it appears United are intent on landing an alternative target this week, in Inter Milan’s Milan Skriniar, according to reports from the Sun.

The Portuguese boss was reportedly keen to sort a deal in principle to bring Alderweireld to Old Trafford before the World Cup began on Thursday (the Sun), which would have allowed him to focus on his last few targets before the window closed. But new reports suggest otherwise.

Photo: Getty Images

United are supposedly unwilling to better their initial offer of £50 million for Alderweireld, with Spurs valuing the defender closer to £70 million, and as a result it seems they have turned their primary focus onto landing the Slovakian international.

However, the move isn’t proving simple to complete, with reports from Gazetta dello Sport suggesting that a bid of £60 million has been rejected by the Italian giants. And it looks as though the deal will drag on further, meaning Spurs fans will have to wait to see if they’re in the clear over their star defender.

Mauricio Pochettino for one will be hoping United land the 23-year-old this window, but they will likely face competition from the likes of Liverpool, Manchester City and Barcelona now they’ve acted on initial interest.

Photo: Getty Images

Skriniar has drawn attention from European giants for his performances last term – after arriving from Sampdoria in 2016 – playing a vital part in an outfit that secured a fourth place finish in Serie A in 2017/18 – bagging four goals in 40 appearances. And the Nerazzurri don’t look as though they’ll be able to tie him down for the foreseeable future.

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