There was nothing positive for Manchester United fans to take out of Sunday’s 4-0 drubbing at the hands of Chelsea at Stamford Bridge. They fell behind to Pedro’s goal in the first minute due to some shambolic defending by Chris Smalling and Daley Blind, with David De Gea rushing out to meet the Spanish international before being simply rounded and watching the former Barcelona midfielder slot home.
Things only got worse after that; Gary Cahill, Eden Hazard and N’Golo Kante all added their names to the scoresheet, and United created precious little of note after the break. Zlatan Ibrahimovic had another off-day, something that is becoming a pattern of late, and Paul Pogba played like a young man being asked to carry the defensive burden of his entire team on his shoulders. Which, currently, he is.
Things got even worse in the second half when Eric Bailly was forced to leave the field with an injury that Jose Mourinho described in starkly negative terms after the game in quotes ran by the club’s official website:
“He is injured and I am afraid he is badly injured,” Mourinho told the press gathered for his post-match press conference. “In his knee, in the ligament area. He feels it is really bad.”
If a report in The Times is anything to go by, however, the injury to the Ivorian isn’t as bad as first feared. Perhaps it was wise for the Portuguese to err on the side of caution given that he was told by the player that it felt distinctly painful. But, the article, which also states that a source suggests that some United players are ‘stunned’ by how distant Mourinho has been since taking over the club, suggests that Bailly could be back with the side within the next six weeks, meaning he would be available for the busy Christmas period.
If that was the case, then Bailly would still be available for international duty with Ivory Coast in January’s African Cup of Nations, which will be of significant disruption to United’s defence given how key the former Villareal player has been to the team so far this season. But given how bad fans assumed the injury was at full time, less than six weeks is still a far better prognosis than was originally suggested. Bailly has arguably been United’s best defender, and at this point, the most consistent performer of the four players that the club purchased this summer. Here’s hoping he recovers fast.