Ole Gunnar Solskjær will give Eric Bailly the chance to show that he can provide the solution to Manchester United’s defensive problems.
United manager Solskjaer was encouraged 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 center-back partnership between Victor Lindelof and Harry Maguire was not good enough for a team with the Premier League title.
Lindelof, especially bad against Palace, could lose his Premier League starting place as Solskjaer puts his trust in an axis formed by captain Maguire and former Villarreal man Bailly.
They were paired together in the 3-0 EFL Cup victory in Luton Town on Tuesday and could once again be in the league match with Brighton and Hove Albion on Saturday.
The 3-1 loss to Palace may have been dismal for United, but Solskjær sees better times ahead.
He said: “I think last season proved to us how we can defend at our best. Last week was not great, 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 in shape again, which is a big bonus for us. I look forward to seeing him develop. We have been waiting for him to be in shape and play more regularly.”
Bailly only started a Premier League match in 2019-20, so Solskjaer’s perception of Maguire and Ivory Coast had been a strength as a unit last season comes only from minimal evidence.
Solskjaer wants more from United as a whole after the violent defeat of a Palace side who were inspired by Wilfried Zaha, a player who was briefly in Old Trafford ranks but who was allowed to escape.
“We are a week further down the line,” said Solskjær. “It has been a good week, some players have trained well, and the work in the training area has been good.
“We played well against Luton. We had to be further down the line because last week was disappointing.”
The Norwegian added: “After the restart in June and July, we made great, big progress. Palace was very disappointing, but I’m still sure. We need more imagination, that’s for sure.”
He came around a question of whether Chris Smalling could stay at United to add extra defensive depth following a successful loan spell at Roma last season.
And as for the possibility of inbound transfers, with Borussia Dortmund’s Jadon Sancho again linked to United amid reports of a £ 90m take-it-or-leave-it deal, Solskjær played a straight bat.
He said: “I am very confident in my players and if and when something happens with the ins and outs we will update you.”