First Team News

Is Harry Maguire damaged goods?

No player has epitomised the struggle of Manchester United more than Harry Maguire. Maguire was signed for a record £80m fee for a defender by the Red Devils in 2019 from Leicester City after impressing with the Foxes for two seasons, earning a regular starting berth in the England starting line-up under Gareth Southgate. He was a standout performer in the England side that reached the semi-finals of the 2018 World Cup, and was certainly one of the best defenders in the Premier League before United swooped.

They paid more than the £75m that Liverpool parted for Virgil van Dijk in August 2019 and he began life at Old Trafford with a bang, earning a man of the match award in a 4-0 triumph over Chelsea. Within six months, Maguire was named captain of the side as the club appeared to be on an upward trajectory under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer. However, since then Maguire and United have declined dramatically, so much so, that using the football tips for today you will find that the team are backed at 25/1 to win the Premier League in the 2022/23 campaign.

Few players have come under more criticism for United’s issues than Maguire. A portion of it is justified, he has failed to perform to a standard anywhere expected of a player of his supposed calibre. The 29-year-old has struggled to raise the standard of his game amid the weight of expectations along with his leadership duties on and off the field.

He has not been able to produce the same level of brilliance that Van Dijk did at Liverpool, where he excelled at providing a defensive shield to allow the Reds’ attacking players to thrive. In the blue half of Manchester, Ruben Dias has been equally effective after his £50m to Manchester City, settling down their backline in their repeated runs to the Premier League crown.

Maguire’s confidence has drained away, making repeated mistakes in all facets of his game. There is not one element where the United defender appears to be in control as his distribution, positioning and tackling have all suffered. United fans have aimed their frustrations at their skipper with boos and taunts, which even followed him to his England duties.

The arrival of Raphael Varane did nothing to settle the 29-year-old, while the change in manager from Solskjaer to Ralf Rangnick appeared to make matters worse rather than better last season. Eric ten Hag has a massive challenge on his hands to restore his confidence, especially knowing that Maguire still has three years remaining on his contract.

The club cannot afford to fall into the same situation with Maguire as they have endured with Phil Jones. He too was billed as a defensive superstar, but failed to make the grade falling out of contention amid his form and persistent injury problems. Despite not being part of the plans of the last three United managers, Jones remains on the books, making only 13 appearances in three years. Eric Bailly could also fall under that category.

Under Southgate at the World Cup and Euro 2020, Maguire looked every inch one of the best defenders in the respective competitions. His form is an antithesis of England players of old such as Rio Ferdinand, who would produce their best at Old Trafford before failing to deliver in the international arena. It proves that there is a quality player to be unearthed, but whether Ten Hag can extract that remains to be seen. The damage of the last two years may be too much to overcome for both player and his new manager.

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By RedManc

RedMancunian is the number one source for Manchester United news, insight and opinion on the most successful football club in the English top flight. RedMancunian was founded at the end of the 2011/2012 football season. We hope to provide insight on football matters related to Manchester United and provides a sense of what the club was and is all about. Follow RedMancunian on Twitter - @RedMancunian