Sunday afternoon was like a nightmare come true for Jose Mourinho and Manchester United as they fell to a humiliating 4-0 defeat at the hands of Chelsea, but the real long-term blow is the news that Eric Bailly’s injury which saw him limp off just before the hour mark will keep him out of action for at least two months. The £30 million summer signing has been hugely impressive since moving to Old Trafford from Villarreal in the summer and his absence will be costly for the Red Devils.
The most likely scenario seems to be that United will use Daley Blind in a central role, as was seen on Sunday afternoon, with Luke Shaw returning at left back, though the decision to select Marcos Rojo over Shaw at the weekend after harsh criticism of the former Southampton man by Mourinho in the wake of defeat to Watford may cast doubt over that.
Bailly’s style will certainly be missed with his no-nonsense defending mixed with composure that allows him to be effective on the ball too. Having been dispossessed just once in nine Premier League games to date he clearly does not dither on the ball, yet has a remarkably high pass completion ratio at 89% which accurately reflects his style of playing the ball out from the back having regained possession.
It is a frustrating time to lose the 22-year-old, with United now facing a tough challenge up against Manchester City in the EFL Cup with Bailly set to miss clashes with Arsenal, Tottenham, West Ham and Everton amongst others. His strength and dominance is exactly the kind of style that the likes of Alexis Sanchez can struggle up against and there are few defenders better equipped to face the challenge of Romelu Lukaku, but he will be forced to sit and watch on from the sidelines.
However, the sad truth of the matter is that Mourinho will have to adapt his United team to life without Bailly as his knee injury is expected to keep him out of action until late December, with an African Cup of Nations call-up to the Ivory Coast squad then expected to take him away from Premier League life for a month from mid-January. With him already set to miss up to 12 matches over the next two months, Mourinho will have to adapt his side quickly or risk losing even more ground on the top four and title challengers in the push for a return to Champions League football.
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