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Eric Bailly returning to Manchester United adds more quality to an improving defence

Thursday 26th January 2017
Manchester United Football Club has been given a surprising defensive boost over the last couple of days, as the Ivory Coast were shockingly knocked out of the African Cup of Nations. That means Eric Bailly's immediate return to Old Trafford – making a stern defence even tougher.
Jose Mourinho sanctioned big money to sign the then relative unknown that was Eric Bailly last summer, and straight away, the Ivorian came in and implemented his aggressive style of play on the back line. Throughout pre-season, he impressed heavily and the fans' started getting their hopes up regarding just how talented this young lad is.

He continued his pre-season form into the Premier League instantly, and from the first competitive game you knew exactly what you are going to get; Touch-tackling, no-nonsense and a real turn of pace that can allow him to keep up with the fastest forwards across the country.

Having him back just strengthens Jose's hand tenfold. We all know just how much of an astute tactician the Manchester United boss is, and his ability to chop and change his starting eleven to tailor for certain situations is second-to-none.

I've no doubts that Bailly will be back involved almost straight away, but you have to say he won't have it all his own way – and that is a credit to the rest of the Red Devils' back line who have been performing excellently.

Let's start with Antonio Valencia. The Ecuadorian man has changed his game rather drastically from a right-winger to a full-back, and he's taken to it like a duck to water. Fresh off of signing a deserved new contract at the Theatre of Dreams, I'd go as far as saying he is arguably the best in the league at his position right now.

Massive kudos goes to Phil Jones, too. The 24-year-old has missed so much football due to injury since his arrival at Salford Quays, but he hasn't let that get him down and he's just kept working. Both club and player are reaping the rewards right now, and you feel he's slowly turning into the player that Sir Alex Ferguson entrusted so much faith in – he just has to keep fit.
Marcos Rojo is another unsung hero. The man from Argentina didn't have the best of times last year, and he did make plenty of mistakes. Under the guidance of Jose, those issues seemed to have been completely wiped out, and his passion for winning his team points always shines through.

The left-back slot is a bit of an odd one. You have to say that both Matteo Darmian and Daley Blind have done well when called upon, but it just feels like Luke Shaw is the man for that job in the long-term. If he can get himself fully fit and firing again, Manchester United's defence will be even more formidable.

You also cannot forget about Chris Smalling who was United's best defender in the two seasons under Louis van Gaal. He's an excellent player to have in and around the squad, and like Phil Jones, he is still improving.

Jose must be rubbing his hands together at the wealth of options he has at the back. The lads are more than capable of keeping tonnes of clean sheets and closing down the opposing attackers. If his forwards can start firing, this squad is more than capable of winning silverware galore.
Jordan Street

Jordan Street, 25-year old sports writer. Avid Manchester United fan and season ticket holder. Lover of the Premier League. Enjoys American sports. Tom Brady's biggest admirer, Kyrie Irving for MVP.


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