Comparisons were quickly drawn between Bailly’s defensive style and that of United legend Nemanja Vidic, and he has quickly cemented his status as the rock in Mourinho’s defence.
If I tell UEFA what I really think and feel, my career would end now.
The Spain worldwide was forced off after just 23 minutes of last Sunday’s FA Cup semi-final loss to Arsenal with a hamstring injury, having been hit hard by tackle from Gabriel Paulista moments earlier.
That said, he is unlikely to concede Thursday’s derby quite so easily (not least because it is against fierce rival Pep Guardiola), and will still pick a very competitive team.
“It is going to be the game of the season, ” the United midfielder said with relish.
But victory on Thursday would help to shut off City’s only path to Europe’s top club competition.
Mourinho got his own back six weeks later when United beat City 1-0 in the fourth round of the English League Cup.
City and United were the biggest spenders in England before the start of the season but top-of-the-table Chelsea are battling Tottenham for the title.
“Game after game they pick up crucial wins”.
Fatigue aside, the only dark cloud on United’s horizon is injuries.
The Spanish boss expects a tough game against Jose Mourinho’s side despite the injury to United’s leading scorer Zlatan Ibrahimovic, who was ruled out for the rest of the season with a cruciate knee ligament problem.
Eric Bailly has a huge role in the Manchester United backline tonight as the Ivorian is the only fit recognised central defender, with Daley Blind expected to partner him at the back following injuries to Phil Jones, Chris Smalling and Marcos Rojo.
“Let’s follow the example of Wayne (Rooney) and (Anthony) Martial”. His Real Madrid side were 2-1 winners at Guardiola’s Barcelona in April 2012.
However, when asked if they could be at Old Trafford next season, Mourinho said: “Of course they have. All the managers have their ways they like, not just him and me”, said Guardiola, who has not sought out Mourinho socially during their time in Manchester but reports they are on cordial term.
But he had more positive news about Sergio Aguero, who trained on Wednesday after picking up a knock against Arsenal.
A win for the Red Devils will see them leap frog their rivals into a top-four place.
Mourinho, Guardiola’s bete noire during their time in Spain, has played down Herrera’s remarks, telling Sky Sports: “He says that because I always say that about the next match”.
“I believe I’ve got a lot to supply, and as I keep saying, I’m looking forward to these next few matches, get a few under my belt, and get to where I wish to be at the ending of the season and see what occurs there”.