Manchester United

Manchester United

Premier League • England

Man Utd misfit felt ‘helpless and worthless’ during troubled Old Trafford spell despite Mourinho trust

Man Utd players Isak Hansen-Aaroen, Eric Bailly and Raphael Varane

Former Manchester United defender Eric Bailly has revealed that he felt “helpless and worthless” during his troubled spell at Old Trafford.

Bailly’s seven-year career at the club ended last summer when he departed for Besiktas, but he recently had his contract terminated by the Turkish giants and is now ack playing in Spain.

The 29-year-old rejoined Villarreal on December 30, the club he quit to join United back in 2016, and he has been speaking about his injury-plagued spell with the Red Devils.

And Bailly has spoken about the part then-United boss Jose Mourinho played in his arrival at Old Trafford.

“A Portuguese number [rang my phone]. ‘It’s Mourinho’, said the voice at the other end. “Do you want to play for me at Manchester United?” Bailly told The Athletic.

“I felt like I was hallucinating. I thought it was a guy just trying to annoy me, to make a joke. Who believes Mourinho is calling them?

“I said he needed to prove it was him by calling on video. This is what he did. It was Mourinho and he said he wanted me to go to Manchester. I did. I signed for the biggest club in the world.”

The £30million signing enjoyed an excellent first campaign with the club as they won the Community Shield, the League Cup and then the Europa League.

Bailly beset by injuries at United

Sadly, he endured 15 separate injuries during his Old Trafford spell and only started 33 Premier League games in his last five years with the club.

“You feel helpless because you can’t change anything when you’re injured,” Bailly added.

“You don’t want to feel worthless but that’s exactly what you feel. You want to get back training but at the biggest clubs there’s huge competition.”

Despite this, the Ivory Coast international admits he still enjoyed his time at United, in large part because of his teammates, adding: “I got on with the boys I played with.

“I saw a lot of Victor Lindelof. He lived one minute from my house and spoke Spanish. Harry Maguire was tranquil. I’m glad he’s playing well now; he’s a strong character and he had a difficult time with the English media.

“Cristiano Ronaldo returned, the legend coming back. He was the best player in the world for me. Even when he returned, Cristiano contributed a lot to the club and a player like Cristiano deserves to feel important. It’s a shame he left in the circumstances he did.”

United are back in action on Monday night when they take on Wigan in the FA Cup third round.

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