Ole Gunnar Solskjaer revealed tactical reasons were behind his decision to hand Eric Bailly his first Premier League start in almost eight months.
Bailly replaced Victor Lindelof in the Manchester United team to face Tottenham at Old Trafford in a change that was expected given the latter’s uncertain start to the season and Bailly’s form in Carabao Cup wins against Luton and Brighton.
Bailly has started nine cup games since he last began a Premier League game, the 2-0 win at Chelsea in February.
But Solskjaer said the decision to bring the Ivory Coast international in for Lindelof wasn’t solely based on recent performances, but to counter a specific threat posed by Jose Mourinho’s Tottenham as well.
“There was a tactical reason for it as well and Eric has played really well in the two games, he deserves it in that respect. Him and Victor played really well at Brighton on Tuesday, it was a toss-up between them and we’ve given Eric the chance today,” Solskjaer told MUTV.
United are bidding for a fourth successive win in all competitions as they seek to banish the memories of their disappointing start to the Premier League once and for all.
They were beaten 3-1 by Crystal Palace two weeks ago but Solskjaer is confident his side are more match ready now than they were then and he knows another win is vital heading into the October international break.
“I can’t say we got caught off guard but the first game was too early for us, know we’ve had two weeks of games and training, we should get the tempo from the starts, we should get amongst them and we should create chances,” he said.
“It’s the second international break already, it’s going to be a difficult period for us coaches, we’ll have 10 or 11 players here so we’ll work with them, but we’ll determine the mood with a win today and then we’ll have had four good games after the first one.”