Bailly accuses Man Utd of 'favouring English players', but have they?

·3-min read

Eric Bailly has criticised Manchester United for what he perceives to be a bias towards English players following his departure for Marseille.

Bailly was very highly rated when he became Jose Mourinho's first signing at the club in 2016, but he left late last month on a loan deal that could become permanent having only once accumulated more than 21 appearances in a full season.

Injuries undoubtedly played their part in Bailly's struggles, but he was also prone to moments of rashness and the occasional loss of concentration, which did not help his cause.

Seemingly, however, Bailly thinks there were other factors at play as well, claiming there to be a bias towards English players at the club, with his comments interpreted by many as clear criticism of the much-maligned – and now out-of-favour – captain Harry Maguire.

"The club should avoid favouring English players and give everyone a chance," he told the Times.

"[The club should] encourage competition in the dressing room, not just look out for some. I've always had the feeling that the [English] national player was prioritised.

"That doesn't happen at Chelsea or other big Premier League clubs. Some people take it for granted that they are going to start, and that weakens the team.

"Luckily [Erik] ten Hag has a lot of character and I hope he can change that dynamic."

The data certainly suggests United looked to English players more than their rivals over the past six seasons, the period Bailly is referring to.

Bailly
Bailly

While Liverpool (33), Tottenham (30) and Arsenal (27) have both seen more English players represent them for at least one minute across all competitions over the period in question than United (26), the Red Devils have given greater prominence to more homegrown players.

Between August 2016 and the end of last season, they had nine English players feature for at least 5,000 minutes across all competitions – none of the other so-called 'big six' have more than six English players that meet the same criteria.

Ten Hag's decision to drop Maguire and Luke Shaw suggests United do now have a manager who is willing to shake things up again, but still Bailly wanted out.

"I played important games and in some I was chosen as the best player. I think when I was given the opportunity I rose to the occasion, I just lacked consistency, because I think I deserved more minutes," he continued. "I've had good times and won titles.

"I met Ten Hag in the dressing room at the end of last season when he went to sign his contract.

"I was packing my things because my intention was to leave, but he told me he wanted me to stay because he was going to give minutes to everyone.

"I agreed to do the [pre-season] tour with United, and he kept his word, but I don't want to play every now and then. I want to do it every week and feel important. I want to get my confidence back."