Ivory Coast refusal to delay Bailly’s departure irks Mourinho
Man United manager’s hopes of player being available for West Ham dashed
Manchester United manager José Mourinho and defender Eric Bailly celebrate after Paul Pogba scored winning goal against Middlesbrough at weekend. Phbotograph: Andrew Yates/Reuters
Bailly returned to the starting XI in Saturday’s 2-1 win over Middlesbrough and Mourinho was hoping he would be available to take on West Ham on Monday as well.
That could not happen without the consent of his national side, who are preparing for the tournament in Gabon, and coach Michel Dussuyer was not willing to take the risk.
United should not be harmed in the short term, with Phil Jones and Marcos Rojo ready to restore their successful partnership after being rested for the New Year’s Eve victory and Chris Smalling also fit, but Mourinho is concerned about a lack of numbers at the back.
“Bailly is leaving – he goes to the national team,” said a clearly disgruntled Mourinho.
“He has to be with them on January 2nd. We asked them for him to be on January 3rd but they refused, so he cannot play against West Ham.
“With these kind of decisions they are controlling every second, so for sure they are going to win the African Cup.
The 22-year-old Bailly has had a hit-and-miss start to his United career, starting the season strongly before a dip in form and fitness.
He is still delighted to be part of the Red Devils set-up and lavished praise on Mourinho, who enters 2017 on the back of six successive wins.
“He is a great manager, the best in the world,” Bailly told Sky Sports.
“It is a pleasure to work and learn with him. I hope it continues like this and that I stay at United for a long time.
“I’m truly happy with my team and my team-mates. Little by little, and with more training under this manager, I hope to improve.”
Mourinho was without Wayne Rooney and Michael Carrick against Boro and the short turnaround time between matches could mean another game on the sidelines for the Englishmen.
West Ham goalkeeper Darren Randolph insists his side’s confidence remains intact ahead of their clash with Manchester United. They host United on Monday after Saturday’s 1-0 loss at Leicester ended a three-match winning streak.
Defeat at the King Power Stadium halted their mini-revival, which had moved Slaven Bilic’s side eight points clear of the Premier League relegation zone.
But Randolph, who was beaten by Islam Slimani for the winner at Leicester, is ready to start another run.
“If we’d won, I’d have said we’d 100 per cent have turned the corner, because it would have put a little bit of extra space between Leicester and us and the other teams below us,” he said.
“It would have been four wins in a row, but it wasn’t to be, so we’ll regroup and get ready for the next one. It was a tough start to the season, but the last few results obviously helped us a bit, so we go into the new year and will start fresh and push on again.”
West Ham could be without Mark Noble after he was forced off at Leicester following a tackle from Daniel Amartey.