Man Utd Favourite Eric Bailly Explains How He Has Improved Since Arrival Last Summer
Manchester United defender Eric Bailly believes that he is a better player now than when he first joined the club 13 months ago, citing an improved football intelligence as well as the influence of manager Jose Mourinho in helping him step up his game.
Bailly was a relatively unknown prospect when he first made the £30m switch from Villarreal last June and critics were quick to jump on his occasionally rash tendencies.
But the Ivorian enjoyed a strong first year at Old Trafford, despite being hindered by injuries, suspension and a mid-season break at the Africa Cup of Nations, and is ready to do even better as the upcoming 2017/18 appears on the immediate horizon.
"In my time at United and with the help of the manager, I have improved," Bailly told MUTV.
"One thing I have learned is to improve on my tactical play, my physical play has changed too and I hope to continue to improve."
It is expected that Bailly will eventually come to partner new £30m arrival Victor Lindelof at the heart of the United defence in time - early comparisons to a potential Nemanja Vidic/Rio Ferdinand revival have already been tentatively made.
But the two have largely been kept separate during pre-season so far, playing just 45 minutes together in the second half as United beat LA Galaxy 5-2 earlier this month. Lindelof's early struggles to adapt to United's rhythm have perhaps contributed to that.
Bailly will be missing from the UEFA Super Cup early next month after his European suspension following a red card in last season's Europa League semi-final was extended to three games.
The original ban meant Bailly was forced to miss the victorious final over Ajax in Stockholm in May, and he will also now be forced to sit out of the opening Champions League group game in September a well - the group stage draw will be made on 24th August.