ERIC BAILLY is the latest Manchester United hard man to replace Steve Bruce and Nemanja Vidic, according to Old Trafford hero Gary Pallister.
Talent in the United defence has rarely been lacking since Alex Ferguson’s era but serious tough guys are not as easy to come by.
Current Old Trafford stars like Chris Smalling, Daley Blind and Victor Lindelof are all ball-playing defenders and previous liberos have included Rio Ferdinand, Laurent Blanc and Jonny Evans.
But summer signing Bailly is out of the old school and has come in to form a fearsome partnership with the revitalised Phil Jones.
Ahead of United’s clash with Liverpool, Pallister told betsafe.com: “There were big question marks over Phil Jones over the last couple of years with injuries and his form and I think he has come back to his critics with his form this year.
“He has been one of our best players at the start of this season, it is terrific to he him recapture his form from when he came to Old Trafford.
“Bailly loves to defend and maybe even a mould of Vidic or a Steve Bruce, he is aggressive.
“He loves to defend and if I was a centre-half then I would love to play with a guy like him so I think defensively we have been pretty sound, we are scoring goals quite freely but we have not had a massive test, we expected more from Everton.
“Liverpool is a massive test for this team, we no doubt look a better team than we did but this is a different level.”
Jose Mourinho’s men travel to Anfield for the 12.30pm kick-off on Saturday, the favourites for the local derby.
Ferguson lived for knocking Liverpool off their perch when he was in the Old Trafford dugout.
And Pallister has revealed the iconic boss had a clever trick for the night before the grudge match.
He said: “Liverpool were the most successful club in the country and that was the hard-stick for us.
“We wanted to emulate what Liverpool had done.
“I think Sir Alex knew that, it was actually the only times when we stayed in a hotel the night before the game whether Old Trafford or Liverpool because he wanted the team to be together and feel like it was a bit special, almost like a cup final.
“The whole week was really tense and they very rarely disappointed back in those days.”
It was not all blood and thunder in the ferocious clashes between United and Liverpool in the Premier League’s glory years.
Pallister remembers a hilarious moment when the world’s most famous footballer gave his autograph to a couple of rival fans, only for them to rip it up in his beautiful face.
He said: “The funniest thing that I remember was being there when it was Becks and Gary Neville’s first game at Anfield and two little Scouser lads went over, they must’ve been six or seven years old, and they asked for their autograph.
“Neville and Becks were quite chuffed to have been asked and then the lads ripped it up in front of them and I walked past and said, ‘Welcome to Anfield son’. That stands out in my memory.”
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Read the betsafe.com interview with Gary Pallister & Dominic Matteo, including why pressure is building on Klopp is under pressure at Anfield