Wes Brown: Eric Bailly Must Improve to Secure Manchester United Spot

Rob Blanchette@@_Rob_BFeatured ColumnistFebruary 14, 2019

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03:  Eric Bailly of Manchester United during the Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Leicester, United Kingdom. (Photo by Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images)
Malcolm Couzens/Getty Images

Former Manchester United defender Wes Brown believes Eric Bailly must eradicate the mistakes in his game to guarantee a starting role with the Red Devils. 

Speaking to Dan O'Toole of the Manchester Evening News, the former England international advised Bailly to improve his standard alongside Victor Lindelof, citing his tackling and decision-making as problematic in the United defence.

Brown gave the player hope, saying:

"I like Bailly. He's physical, he's quick, he's good in the air. Obviously sometimes he is too physical and I'm sure he's going to understand that and he's going to learn from that. That's what it's about. I do [think he's got a long-term future at the club]. It's a learning process. If he can cut the silly tackles out then he can be at Manchester United for many, many years."

Manchester United's Ivorian defender Eric Bailly (R) vies with Paris Saint-Germain's French striker Kylian Mbappe during the first leg of the UEFA Champions League round of 16 football match between Manchester United and Paris Saint-Germain (PSG) at Old T
FRANCK FIFE/Getty Images

Bailly arrived at United under former manager Jose Mourinho, but injury and poor form have kept him on the sideline for much of his Old Trafford career.

The defender gained a fierce reputation with Villarreal in La Liga but has suffered with the challenges presented in the Premier League.

The Ivory Coast international is a physical player, but his reading of the game has left United exposed on many occasions.

As Bailly struggles for form, Lindelof has reversed his fortunes, which saw him left out of the squad by Mourinho for most of last season.

The Swede has this year demonstrated he is a clever centre-back who can carry the ball out from the back under pressure.

Matt Dunham/Associated Press

Per O'Toole, Brown added his thoughts on the Sweden international:

"I think Victor's come on leaps and bounds. He came and had a difficult time at the beginning. I think he even admitted that. The Premier League is very pacey, it's quick, it's very physical. He's taken a little bit of time [to adjust to that] but it happens. I've seen it happen when I was here with other players. You can see him now coming into that form that he did show before and in the World Cup even. He's starting to look like the player that we know we bought. It [bringing the ball out] does help. He's very calm on the ball. He looks easy and comfortable in possession. If there's space to run into he certainly can do that. He's got good feet on him and a good pass."

United have staged a recovery under caretaker boss Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, but the defence remains fragile.

LEICESTER, ENGLAND - FEBRUARY 03: Ole Gunnar Solskjaer interim manager of Manchester United with Eric Bailly and Paul Pogba after the Premier League match between Leicester City and Manchester United at The King Power Stadium on February 03, 2019 in Leice
Catherine Ivill/Getty Images

The Red Devils desperately need to welcome a new world-class centre-back in the summer, and the squad lacks genuine quality at full-back.

Lindelof is likely to survive into next season. He has had a solid campaign, which has endeared him to the Stretford End.

However, the jury is out on Bailly, and it's questionable whether the defender has the composure to be a top-class regular.

Solskjaer must continue to get results right in the coming weeks if he is to land the manager's job on a full-time basis, and he will be relying on his defenders to up their games at the conclusion of the season.