Fans were asked ‘With Kalidou Koulibaly happy to stay at Napoli this summer, Manchester United could decide to stick with the centre back options they already have. Who do you think should be Harry Maguire’s regular centre back partner going forward: Eric Bailly or Victor Lindelof?’
Eighteen thousand fans responded, with the overwhelming majority in favour of the Ivorian.
The Red Devils defence has been in commanding form, keeping nine clean sheets in the last 11 games and conceding only two goals. Lindelof was involved in six of those clean sheets, Bailly in five.
Some of those selecting Bailly gave their reasons:
‘Bailey is a fighter who plays his heart out in matches.’
‘A fit Bailly is the best centre half we have.’
‘Eric Bailly supersedes Lindelof in everything, the only issue is injury. Teach him to limit his tackles and positioning and we have a world class defender.’
‘If Bailly stays fit, then this is a no-brainer. Closest we come to Koulibaly is Bailly.’
A number of fans expressed doubts about Lindelof’s strength and ability to cope under pressure.
‘Too weak in the air and stamina.’
‘Victor must just hit the gym.’
‘I feel he just doesn’t have the physical presence required, plus he makes some very silly mistakes when under pressure’.
Those opting for Lindelof focused on consistency and that he is less injury-prone.
‘I see consistency in Lindelof rather than Bailey.’
‘Victor might have some weaknesses .. But tbh… He’s more consistent and reliable than Bailly.’
‘I only think Lindelof because Bailly is always injured.’
Other fans indicated that they would have voted for Axel Tuanzebe had he been listed as an option.
All doubts around Bailly seem to revolve around his ability to avoid injury. Many fans see his swashbuckling style as being an excellent fit for the more phlegmatic Maguire, much in the same vein as Nemanja Vidic was to Rio Ferdinand and as Steve Bruce was to Gary Pallister in two of the greatest centre back partnerships in Manchester United’s history.