United Briefing: Bailly's message of unity
Eric Bailly believes his Manchester United colleagues are like brothers to him as he thanked his team-mates for their emotional response to his heroics in the closing stages of the 2-1 win over Aston Villa.
The Ivory Coast international threw himself in the way of a Keinan Davis shot to make a wonderful block that helped preserve the three points for Ole Gunnar Solskjaer's men, last time out in the Premier League.
However, the modest centre-back laughed off suggestions he is in the form of his career and is just determined to stay fit after a difficult time with injuries. After making four successive starts for the first time since September 2017, he feels the continuity is certainly helping him produce top-level performances on a consistent basis.
"In this team, we are like a family," he told us. "Like all of the people are friends, like brothers. Manchester is one family and I’m very happy with my team-mates to do this for me because they know the moment I had before. They are happy for me to come back to the team and that is why I try to help.
“You know when the game is finished, the players who didn’t play the game, but were on the bench, came onto the pitch to celebrate the three points. That is the mentality we want. For me, for the team, for all the players in Manchester, it is very important to keep this mentality.
“Popular or not, you know, I’m enjoying [it] all the time, I enjoy it with my boys, my team-mates and we try to make the people happy. I joke when it’s a good moment to do the joke and then to be focused on making the team strong."
It is easy to see why Bailly is such a big hit with his colleagues as he is keen to deflect any praise for his work and instead insist it is very much a team game.
When we asked if this was the best form of his life, or it was too early to say, he replied: "Yes, it’s too early. Too early! [laughs] Now you need to make your head calm, train and keep going, getting ready to help the team. That’s my first mission and I hope I don’t get injured again, you know. The injuries are very difficult for players when they have the good form. It’s very important to be ready to play every game.
“That [playing regularly] is very important for me, you know, as before, I’d had moments, difficult moments, but now I’ve come back into the team. I am feeling good, train well and yeah I’ll be ready to help the team. I am fit and I want to play."
Bailly is keen to progress past holders Manchester City in the Carabao Cup semi-final on Wednesday, as he hopes to emulate winning the trophy in 2017, when he played in the 3-2 victory over Southampton in the final.
"We’re focused and trying to focus for this game and ready because we know this game is pressure, a derby and we need to do very well to win this game," he added.
“We know City are one of the best teams in England but now we are focused for our team and we have had good moments. And it is very good to play at home and that is very important for us. Now, it’s training, focus and be ready for that game. That is it.
“It [the 2017 final] is a good memory. I remember we go 2-0 but, after that, 2-2 and the game is not easy in the final. I think [Zlatan] Ibrahimovic gets the goal and we won the trophy. So that I hope we can do the same again this year, maybe it is possible. Everything is possible."
WHAT'S HAPPENING TODAY?
Manager Ole Gunnar Solskjaer will address the media ahead of Wednesday's Carabao Cup semi-final with Manchester City at Old Trafford. The boss will bring us up to speed with any team news, with Edinson Cavani definitely ruled out due to suspension.
You can watch the press conference in full from 10:00 GMT this morning [Tuesday] in the Official App and on ManUtd.com.
Look out for some exclusive shots of the players training ahead of the derby as well.
WHAT HAPPENED YESTERDAY?
It was another busy one at the club. Darren Fletcher's return as a first-team coach was announced and we spoke to the Scot about his appointment. Another new arrival was confirmed as we welcomed Robin Sadler in a newly created role of head of rehabilitation & physiotherapy.