Manchester United could not have asked for a better Community Shield game against Leicester City – the reigning champions of the Premier League. With stellar performances from all players, and a delightful array of goals, it was indeed a sight for sore eyes for the United fans.
However, the man who stood out, had to be Eric Bailly. One of the highlights of the match was when Bailly was chasing after Jamie Vardy. Although it counted for nothing, the cheer from the United fans was deafening, as after a long time, they could finally witness their team looking like it actually wanted a win.
Mourinho got Bailly for £30m during the summer, and this was his first appearance ever since. Now it makes sense as to why Mourinho was intent on getting a player that not many people knew about. Also, people did feel like that amount of money for a man who had only one full season in La Liga, was a bit too much. It might not be relevant anymore though, after the Pogba deal, but still.
Having said all that, if anybody still harboured doubts as to whether Bailly would perform or not, it is safe to say that their doubts have been put to rest after watching him play for United at Wembley.
Bailly is an immensely powerful centre-back, and his height can actually be an advantage for him. He has this raw sense of strength and power that very few defenders have, and he is focused.
One area of concern can be that he might end up using just brute strength and pick up a booking or two over the course of matches. He already picked one in the second half against Leicester, after another challenge on Vardy. Being just 22 years of age, Bailly can be liable to repeat that mistake often.
That can be a minor setback which Mourinho can deal with later. Although Bailly put up an impressive display, he will still have to face competition from Chris Smalling, who has missed pre-season games with injury and will also miss the opening Premier League season at Bournemouth because of a one-match ban for his red card in last season’s FA Cup final. Blind can also be a potential candidate and he did play alongside Bailly in this game.
If you analyse the transfers that have happened at United this season, all of them had a tag of some sort. Paul Pogba was the transfer saga of the summer, Ibrahimovic the shirt-sellers’ dream and Henrik Mkhitaryan the cream of the lot – nothing was said about Bailly, he was just another transfer that nobody spoke about much. However, Bailly is a lot further along the journey to the top than might have been thought. In particular, he dealt extremely well with the pace of Jamie Vardy and actually countered him – something that was a major struggle among central defenders last season.
Bailly has a lot of potential but he needs some work , as shown by his second-half booking, but then the same would go for this Manchester United team. The important thing for the fans right now would be to believe in Mourinho, because he can truly get us back to winning ways.