Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will give Eric Bailly the chance to show he can provide the solution to Manchester United’s defensive problems.
United manager Solskjaer was urged to dive into the transfer market after last weekend’s season-opening defeat to Crystal Palace at Old Trafford.
Former Red Devils captain Gary Neville said the centre-back partnership between Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire was not good enough for a team with Premier League title pretensions.
Lindelof, particularly poor against Palace, could lose his Premier League starting place as Solskjaer puts his trust in an axis formed by captain Maguire and ex-Villarreal man Bailly.
They were paired together in the 3-0 EFL Cup win at Luton Town on Tuesday and could again be in tandem for the league clash with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
The 3-1 loss to Palace may have been grim for United, but Solskjaer sees better times ahead.
He said: “I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best. Last week wasn’t fantastic, we conceded sloppy goals, but I think our defensive record from last season with Eric and Harry, [we saw] how good a partnership they were.
“Eric is fit again which is a big bonus for us. I’m looking forward to seeing him develop. We’ve been waiting for him to be fit and playing more regularly.”
Bailly started only one Premier League match in 2019-20, so Solskjaer’s perception of Maguire and the Ivory Coast international having been a force as a unit last season comes only from minimal evidence.
Ole: “Our record from last season shows how good we can be defending as a team.
— Manchester United (@ManUtd) September 25, 2020
Solskjaer wants more from United as a whole after the harrowing defeat to a Palace side who were inspired by Wilfried Zaha, a player who was briefly in the Old Trafford ranks but allowed to get away.
“We’re a week further down the line,” said Solskjaer. “It’s been a good week, some players have been training well and the work on the training ground has been good.
“We played well against Luton. We needed to be further down the line because last week was disappointing.”
The Norwegian added: “After the restart in June and July we took big, big strides. Palace was a very disappointing one, but I am still confident. We need more imagination, that is for sure.”
He skirted around a question on whether Chris Smalling could stay at United to add extra defensive depth, after a successful loan at Roma last season.
And regarding the possibility of incoming transfers, with Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho again linked to United amid reports of a take-it-or-leave-it £90million offer, Solskjaer played a straight bat.
He said: “I’m very confident in my players and if and when something happens with ins and outs we’ll update you.”