Jose Mourinho was pleased with Eric Bailly’s solid performance against AFC Bournemouth on the opening weekend of the 2016/17 season.
The Ivorian was Mourinho’s first signing as Manchester United manager, and continued his seamless transition from La Liga to the Premier League with an emphatic display on his Premier League debut.
Bailly, alongside the reliable and intelligent Daley Blind, was a powerful and disruptive force all afternoon, deservedly winning the Sky Sports Man of the Match award.
Speaking after the game, Mourinho was full of praise for the youngster.
“When you buy someone like him there is always a question mark on the way he adapts,” he said.
“Playing in Spain is very different to playing in England, playing to finish fourth or fifth is also different to trying to win it, but he is showing big personality and it’s incredible.”
“He was injured against Leicester but he played the 90 minutes, he couldn’t train the next day and wasn’t training all week but he came back with the team yesterday, it’s incredible work with the fitness coaches. He was surrounded by Valencia, Blind, Herrera and Fellaini and it showed stability.”
To arrive from La Liga – a comparatively slower league in relation to English football – at the ripe age of just 22 and perform with such power and confidence is the mark of a truly special footballer. Two Man of the Match awards in two games speaks for itself, and anybody who has watched this rampaging, fearless rough diamond of a defender will know that the Ivorian is the real deal.
Alongside Chris Smalling, Bailly will be part of a powerful, maliciously hostile back line this season, and will be crucial in providing the platform from which this United side can launch a title challenge. And as Premier League debuts go, the Ivorian’s display against Eddie Howe’s side was up there with the finest.