Garth Crooks has compared Victor Lindelof and Eric Bailly with Italy legends Alessandro Nesta and Fabio Cannavaro after Manchester United victory over Leicester City.
A solitary effort from Marcus Rashford was enough to see off the Foxes at the King Power on Sunday, but Crooks was more impressed with United’s centre-backs, who worked hard to earn a clean sheet.
Are Bailly and Lindelof United’s new first-choice centre-back pairing?: Four key things to know…
- Bailly joined United from Villarreal in the summer of 2016 but has struggled to find his best form for the Red Devils.
- Similarly, Lindelof was in and out of the side under Jose Mourinho following his arrival from Benfica at the beginning of last season.
- But both players have experienced a new lease of life since Ole Gunnar Solskjaer took charge, especially Lindelof.
- The Sweden international is the only outfield player to have played every single minute in the Premier League under Solskjaer.
In fact, the United defenders were so impressive in the eyes of Crooks that they earned a comparison with World Cup winning duo Nesta and Cannavaro, with Lindelof earning a place in Crooks’ BBC Sport Team of the Week.
“There are a number of players in this new Manchester United set-up who I don’t recognise anymore,” Crooks told the BBC.
“Eric Bailly was a nervous wreck away against Brighton earlier in the season and Victor Lindelof wasn’t much better – but the pair looked like the superb former Italy defenders Fabio Cannavaro and Alessandro Nesta at their best against a very dangerous Leicester team.
“Lindelof in particular is playing with an authority I haven’t seen from him before. What is Ole Gunnar Solskjaer feeding these boys?”
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United did keep a clean sheet against Leicester, but this had more to do with the Foxes lack of composure in front of goal than United’s defending.
If the Foxes were more clinical they could have had several goals on Sunday afternoon. Jamie Vardy, Harry Maguire and Harvey Barnes all squandered chances to equalise in the second half as Leicester lost their third consecutive home defeat in the Premier League.
Crooks: Pogba has been immense
Crooks has been highly critical of Paul Pogba since he arrived from Juventus, but the Frenchman’s imperious performance against the Foxes might have finally endeared him to the pundit as he made it into his Team of the Week.
“This wasn’t the best performance by Manchester United under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer but it did signal that they can win away from home – and keep a clean sheet – having not performed at their best,” Crooks said.
“Fortunately United did have Paul Pogba at his commanding best.
“The ball for Marcus Rashford to score the only goal of the game was sensational, while the rest of his game caused Leicester all sorts of problems.
“I have given Pogba untold abuse since his arrival from Juventus but credit where credit is due – since the departure of Jose Mourinho the lad has been immense.”
Host Jake Entwistle is joined by Sam Long and Will Hall for this week’s Squawka Talker to discuss Man City 3-1 Arsenal, the Bundesliga title race, Gonzalo Higuain’s start to life at Chelsea, the best of the rest beyond the ‘Big Six’ and the upcoming El Clasico.