- The much-anticipated 2018 World Cup in Russia is now just a few weeks away
- Manchester United players are fighting for their places in respective squads
- Jose Mourinho says Eric Bailly’s absence is partly down to his side missing out
- Mourinho used Marcos Rojo, Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Victor Lindelof as examples of players fighting for a place in their country’s squads for Russia
The Ivory Coast defender has been left out of three of the last four United squads after returning to action in February following ankle surgery.
It’s a surprise considering Bailly has established himself as Mourinho’s first-choice centre back since arriving from Villarreal for £30million in the summer of 2016, and has led to speculation this week that he has fallen out of favour with his manager.
Jose Mourinho admits he is giving those with a World Cup shot more of a chance at United
Eric Bailly (right) has found game-time hard to come by – and Ivory Coast failed to qualify
However, Mourinho denied there is any problem with the player and put Bailly’s omission down to the fact that Ivory Coast are not at the World Cup in Russia this summer.
The United boss claimed he is showing his softer side by helping Chris Smalling, Phil Jones, Marcos Rojo and Victor Lindelof secure a place in the England, Argentina and Sweden squads respectively.
‘There’s no situation,’ said Mourinho. ‘He is fine, no injury. He is one of our five central defenders and, honestly, my work is not about World Cups and preparing players for the World Cup or giving chances to players at the World Cup.
‘But he’s the only central defender whose country is not in the World Cup, so if I have to make a kind of more emotional, effective choice to try to help my players, he’s the one I’m not going to help until the end of the season.
Chris Smalling, though, is playing regularly as he fights for a spot in the final England squad
Victor Lindelof is another in Bailly’s position who has ambitions of going to the World Cup
‘Rojo, Lindelof, Jones, Smalling, all of them are wishing to make the squad for the World Cup and Eric is not under that pressure.
‘I try not to (make those sentimental decisions). I try to be a good team manager and that means being a bit cold, a bit selfish.
‘But I’m not as bad as that, and I still have space for a little bit of feelings, so when I look to the other four central defenders fighting for a position in the World Cup I am giving less to Eric.’
Author: Nancy Parker
Nancy Parker is a five time Emmy Award winning journalist and seven time Emmy nominee who has spent almost twenty five years covering news in South Louisiana. She has anchored every prime time newscast at WVUE FOX8 during her twenty year tenure in New Orleans.