August 18, 2017
Manchester United’s quest to reach the pinnacle of football once again seems to have accelerated during Jose Mourinho’s second season at the club, with many players stepping up to complete the puzzle pieces of what once looked like a disjointed squad.
Highlighting United’s glory days today was defender Eric Bailly, excellent in his debut campaign last season after a £30 million move, and the Ivorian defender was quick to note how pleased he was to have the opportunity to join Manchester United.
“I found out when I was in the Ivory Coast. I didn’t believe it was true, I thought it was a dream. Afterwards I found it was true that the team was interested in me and it was something big for me, and I am thankful for everything that happened in that moment.”
The young defender, who adjusted superbly to the Premier League despite being relatively unknown before his United move, admits that the transition was a big step that was made easier by his teammates. Speaking Spanish and French also played a massive part for a player who didn’t speak English when he first joined.
“When I came to Manchester, it was a bigger step from when I was in Villarreal. It is something that is not easy, when you come to a team where there are players that have more experience in the English league.
“I had to see how the football was played. For me it wasn’t difficult because I had very good teammates that helped and were always looking after me, all of this helped me join the group and that is why it wasn’t that difficult.
“I’ve had the luck to be in a dressing room that is like family. The majority speak French and Spanish, like Ander [Herrera], Juan [Mata] as well as Paul [Pogba] and [Anthony] Martial and the English players, such as Chris Smalling and the others, treated me like family as well.”
Bailly, who has maintained an aggressive and ambitious persona since moving to Old Trafford, proclaimed that now is the time to restore Manchester United after a few sub par seasons. With new signings and hard work, Bailly hopes for the Red Devils to reach a new level this season.
“The team has always been at a world-class level, they have just had some bad moments. But now it’s time to give Manchester United its value.
“That comes with our hard work and that’s what all the players do that come — like [Romelu] Lukaku and Paul [Pogba], and also [Victor] Lindelof. With all the hard work we put in we are going to demonstrate that we are again a world-class club.”
Finally, Bailly stated that he wants to become one of the legendary defenders at United, with his name plastered upon the same pages that read the names Jaap Stam, Steve Bruce, Rio Ferdinand, and the countless other world-class defenders who played at Old Trafford over the course of their career.
“To be honest, yes. They are players in which I cannot do [exactly] the same as they did but I have to try to follow in their steps. It is very difficult but everything is achieved with hard work, and I hope that happens in my case.
“Those are players that have passed various phases. They are big players which you have to have a lot of respect for. You always have to have an example like them to try to be like.”
The Ivorian’s comments are important because they shed light upon everything we have believed to be true in terms of United’s development under Mourinho.
First, his desire to join and the feeling that it was a step up prove that the players joining Manchester United view it the club as what it aspires to be, not what it has been since Sir Alex Ferguson left. This level of ambition is aided by the team chemistry, apparent through Bailly’s communication about his linguistic problems and how they were nullified by the integrated diversity of the club.
Paul Pogba highlighted the Red Devils’ team chemistry in a recent interview with Copa 90, saying he would die for his teammates because of the bond they have, even revealing that Bailly is the funniest player in the dressing room.
“Obviously I’m very close with [teammates] like Jesse. And when you’re with those people you know you want to die for them.
“The funniest? I think it’s Bailly. He doesn’t even want to be funny but he’s just funny.”
Finally, he proclaimed the players’ collective desire to restore Manchester United to what they were, referencing new young players joining the club with lofty ambitions for the future. The likes of Romelu Lukaku, Paul Pogba, and Victor Lindelof are all young players who will have time to develop their ability for the better part of the next decade.
Bailly wants United to ignore the blips and become the club they used to be. He wants to become a legend, compared to the defenders who used to play for the club. The ambition and confidence flowing through Carrington is currently spectacular, and now the United faithful must watch as their heroes ride the wave.