Manchester United defender Eric Bailly says Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s experience as a player can help the club go from strength to strength.
The Ivorian centre-back joined was signed from Villarreal by Jose Mourinho back in 2016 but struggled to truly hold down a place in United’s starting XI under the Portuguese tactician.
Is Soslkjaer a better fit for United than Mourinho? Five things to know…
- Mourinho won the 2017 League Cup and Europa League with United but was sacked in December 2018 following a poor run of results.
- Solskjaer initially enjoyed great success as caretaker manager but has been inconsistent since taking the job permanently.
- The Norwegian has now won 52.6% of his 76 games in charge across all competitions.
- Bailly believes Solskjaer’s experience as a player will allow him to take United to the next level.
- The Ivorian added that he and his teammates see Solskjaer as an “uncle”.
Mourinho famously had a very short and underwhelming playing career and Bailly believes his replacement Solskjaer — who scored 126 goals and won six Premier League titles for United before retiring in 2007 — is more understanding of his players because of his time on the pitch.
“Yeah, it’s also important being able to work with someone who is a former player,” Bailly told ESPN FC.
“Someone who understands the players’ situations, understands all the things that can happen from time to time.
“Because football is not just played on the pitch, it’s also about all the things that go on around the game, the things that people don’t see… and he is someone that gets that and it helps the team a lot. Besides being a coach, he’s just a normal person, you know?
“I would say he’s like an uncle… and having someone like that in the club gives the players more strength.
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“The truth is, he’s someone that will always talk to you. He always communicates well. He gives you so much confidence… because as a footballer, you go through moments where you feel low and he can read that and when he sees that he immediately comes over to you and talks to you.
“He offers advice so that you can regain confidence and for me, that’s so important because, like I said, we have a very young team and if we have a coach like that then the team will go from strength to strength.”
Injury has restricted Bailly to just five appearances across all competitions this season but he has completed 90 minutes in three of United’s last five games.
Mourinho admits to “lazy” playing career
While Solskjaer was famous for his role as a super-sub — scoring from the bench in United’s legendary 2-1 comeback win over Bayern Munich in the 1999 Champions League final — as well as having to overcome various injuries, Mourinho has admitted to “moaning” a lot and being “lazy” during his playing days.
Responding to recent comments made by Baltemar Brito — part of Mourinho’s coaching teams at Uniao de Leiria, Porto and Chelsea — the 57-year-old said: “Me [lazy] as a player? Correct – absolutely correct.”
Asked if a player with his traits would get into his current Tottenham team, Mourinho added: “I wouldn’t play him. I wouldn’t play him. That’s so easy. Offered [to other clubs], take him! Take him for free!”