Lindelof likely to be kept out

Lindelof likely to be kept out

LONDON • Ole Gunnar Solskjaer has hinted that Victor Lindelof will be the fall guy, with Eric Bailly set to take the Swede’s place at the heart of Manchester United’s defence for today’s English Premier League visit to Brighton.

The Red Devils have endured a storm of criticism since last weekend’s 3-1 opening home defeat by Crystal Palace, with pundits slamming the indecisiveness at the back and lack of transfer activity.

Lindelof was particularly shaky in that game, conceding a penalty and was also too easily brushed aside by Wilfried Zaha in the lead-up to the Eagles’ third goal.

With Bailly starting alongside Harry Maguire as United kept a clean sheet en route to a 3-0 third-round League Cup win over Championship side Luton in midweek, Solskjaer intends to keep faith with that centre-back partnership.

At his pre-match virtual press conference yesterday, he said: “Our defensive record shows that with Eric and Harry how good a partnership they were, but also the whole team defending as a team.”

Bailly started just once in the Premier League last season owing to a long-term injury and with just 25 top-flight appearances in the two seasons before that, his record does not stand up to scrutiny.

But despite his injury-prone tag, the Ivory Coast international has qualities that Lindelof lacks, such as pace, and is a more natural partner for the less mobile Maguire, something Solskjaer acknowledges.

“Eric now is fit again and that’s a big, big bonus,” the Norwegian said.

He also sought to quell the anger of fans, who have been vocal on social media about United’s failure to add to their squad except for the signing of Netherlands midfielder Donny van de Beek.

With the transfer window closing next week, supporters are worried as there appears to be no progress in talks for Borussia Dortmund forward Jadon Sancho, while the club are said to be haggling with Porto over the price for Brazil defender Alex Telles.

On the potential of new faces at the club, Solskjaer said: “In football, you can’t predict too much. For me, I’m just working on getting better. My focus is solely on the (Brighton) game, I can’t be thinking any other way. We need points and then we can talk again.”

AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

BRIGHTON V MAN UNITED

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