After struggling with quite a few injuries a few weeks ago, it seems that Manchester United are finally getting used to the lack of important players. Their performances have grown considerably in the last few matches and it was probably best displayed in the 4-0 win over Fenerbahce.
It was the first clean sheet for United in the last four games, and it provides plenty of confidence to the makeshift back four employed by the manager. Daley Blind and Phil Jones were the centre back combination and they were able to take advantage of the hugely experienced Michael Carrick shielding the ball in front of them. Even though United were certainly helped by Feyenoord’s lack of incisiveness, it was an excellent performance that saw the club limit the opposition to only two shots on target throughout the 90 minutes.
Even then, United cannot wait for the return of defender Eric Bailly, and manager José Mourinho has confirmed that the Ivory Coast international set to return to first-team action in December. Bailly has not played for the club since damaging his ligaments in the 4-0 loss against Chelsea earlier in the season. Even though it is a major positive news for United, it is quickly followed by a bad news in the form of the 2017 African Cup of Nations. Mourinho, as reported by Manchester Evening News, confirmed the news by saying:
“He is working hard and will be back before the end of the year, for sure.
“But on 3 January he goes away for a month [to play in the African Cup of Nations].”
Immediately upon returning to the first-team action at United, there is a good possibility of Bailly flying out to Africa in order to join up with the Ivory Coast international team. Depending on the success of Ivory Coast at this tournament, Bailly could be unavailable for up to a month and may only return at the start of February.
Bailly has been one of the surprising finds by United; he may have cost a bit more in the summer, but he is looking a perfect replacement for Nemanja Vidic. United have never really replaced Vidic or Ferdinand since their departure from the club, and Bailly is the no-nonsense defender in the mould of Vidic.
Mourinho always likes a defender who does not take too many chances at the back and just makes the game safe. Bailly also has the ability to spot danger quite quickly, and his heading abilities are second to none. These attributes make Bailly a real force to be reckoned with.
United have shown the first signs of resurgence with the win over Fenerbahce. Building on this victory when they take on West Ham United will be the key agenda for Jose Mourinho. Unlike some of the other top clubs, United do have a favourable run of games during December’s packed schedule and they may not miss Bailly much.