United blow as Eric Bailly faces five-month layoff

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s return to his hometown club was marred by the confirmation that Manchester United defender Eric Bailly faces up to five months out following knee surgery.

United blow as Eric Bailly faces five-month layoff

Ole Gunnar Solskjaer’s return to his hometown club was marred by the confirmation that Manchester United defender Eric Bailly faces up to five months out following knee surgery.

Solskjaer revealed the extent of Bailly’s injury after Juan Mata’s late penalty gave United a 1-0 win over Kristiansund, the team from the town where he was born — and for whom the Norwegian’s son Noah made his debut as a late substitute.

Bailly suffered the injury during United’s 2-1 win over Tottenham in their pre-season meeting in Shanghai last week.

“He’s had an operation,” Solskjaer said last night. “He’ll miss the best part of four or five months. Hopefully, we’ll get him back around about Christmas.

”It was positive news from the surgeon, he had the operation this morning. He was positive it was all repaired and that he’ll be fine.“

With the exception of Paul Pogba who started on the bench, Solskjaer, who watched the game with his other son, Elijah, named a virtually full-strength side against the Norwegians.

But despite dominating the game for long periods, United failed to break down their opponents until the clock ticked over to stoppage time.

Mata converted the spot-kick after being brought down in the box, but the overall display only served to highlight Solskjaer’s search for new striking options, centred around Paulo Dybala.

The Juventus striker is reportedly involved in talks over a switch to Old Trafford in what could effectively turn into a swap deal, with Romelu Lukaku heading in the opposite direction.

Marcus Rashford missed a pair of early chances for the visitors and Scott McTominay lashed a long-range effort against a post.

Pogba appeared for United as one of a host of changes on the hour mark, while Solskjaer witnessed a proud moment for son Noah when he was introduced for the final four minutes.

Meanwhile Harry Kane’s first-half strike proved enough as Tottenham claimed a 1-0 win over Real Madrid in the Audi Cup in Munich.

Kane intercepted a wayward back-pass by Marcelo after 22 minutes and slotted what turned out to be the winner past Keylor Navas.

Christian Eriksen and Danny Rose both started for Spurs despite recent transfer speculation, while Gareth Bale was left in Spain purportedly due to illness.

Kane’s goal marked another defensive blunder by Zinedine Zidane’s men, still smarting from their 7-3 humiliation by city rivals Atletico in New Jersey at the weekend.

Irish teenage sensation Troy Parrott replaced Kane midway through the second half, and the Dubliner almost grabbed Tottenham’s second in the dying moments but saw his low shot strike the post.

Afterwards Mauricio Pochettino repeated his claim that he has no influence on Tottenham’s transfer activity.

Tottenham broke their transfer record to sign Tanguy Ndombele from Lyon earlier this month, but Pochettino says he “knows nothing” — and proposed the situation should be reflected in a change of job title.

Pochettino, who swerved questions regarding the future of Danny Rose said: “I am not in charge and I know nothing about the situation of my players.

“I am only coaching them and trying to get the best from them. Sell, buy players, sign contract, not sign contract - I think it is not in my hands, it’s in the club’s hands and (chairman) Daniel Levy.

“The club need to change my title and description. Of course I am the boss deciding the strategic play, but in another area I don’t know.”

More in this section

Sport Newsletter

Latest news from the world of sport, along with the best in opinion from our outstanding team of sports writers

Sign up

Select your favourite newsletters and get the best of Irish Examiner delivered to your inbox