Valencia vs Manchester United: Marcelino backs Eric Bailly to be ‘very important’ for Jose Mourinho's side

Simon Peach

Valencia head coach Marcelino has backed “extraordinary” Eric Bailly to get back to his best at Manchester United.

With Champions League progress assured, injuries biting and Sunday’s trip to Liverpool on the horizon, Jose Mourinho is likely to rotate in Spain for Wednesday’s Group H match.

Bailly trained ahead of United’s trip to Valencia after overcoming a knock and will be hoping for just his second appearance since Newcastle visited in October, when he was unceremoniously hauled off after just 19 minutes.

It underlined how far the Ivory Coast international had fallen down the pecking order after such a bright start to life at Old Trafford following his move from a Villarreal side managed by current Valencia coach Marcelino in 2016.

“I was so lucky to have Eric as a footballer, as a player,” he said. “He’s an extraordinary player and an extraordinary person.

“I’m so sorry for his injuries, because I know his performances are conditioned by this. I know he is having a hard time and suffering when trying to have a stable rhythm in the team.

“I wish nothing but the best for him and I feel his youth will help him through these hard times and he will be very important for United.

“I think he’s playing really well for United when he plays, but because of his injuries he’s not getting the luck he deserves.”

Until last week’s 2-2 draw with Arsenal, the previous time Bailly had completed a full 90 minutes for United was the goalless home draw with Valencia.

That result put the Old Trafford giants’ progress in doubt, only for Mourinho’s men to secure a memorable 2-1 win at Juventus before edging past Young Boys through Marouane Fellaini’s late effort.

The Belgium midfielder handled the ball in the build-up to the goal that secured the last-gasp 1-0 win that means Valencia will be playing in the Europa League next year, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth of reported United target Carlos Soler.

“It’s true that the hand of Fellaini, if he hadn’t scored, we would have the opportunity still intact, so I have no more comment for this,” the midfielder said.

“Obviously we are a bit p***ed off with the situation, but we cannot change it so we will have to look forward.”

Fellaini's late goal ended Valencia's hopes (Getty Images)

Wednesday offers the chance to secure a result that will see Valencia seeded for the Europa League draw, while offering the chance to alleviate the pressure given their LaLiga struggles.

Pressure is mounting on Marcelino, with his side languishing in 15th and owner Peter Lim is said to be coming to the Group H clash.

“I know how the club thinks about me and the feelings they have for me, so I’m not doubtful in this aspect,” Marcelino added.

“I feel absolutely sure about my position in the club and also I think that coaches should always have their priorities clear, and my experiences as a coach tell me my priorities should be trying to improve our results and I am convinced this will happen, that we will get better.”