Manchester United’s Seasonal Performance
It has been a mixed start to the season for Manchester United. In the last week, they have recorded back-to-back victories across two competitions. This could represent a moment where their season starts. Injuries have been a problem for Erik ten Hag, especially defensively. On Tuesday, Harry Maguire made his first start of the season and he performed very well in the centre of the defence.
The Maguire Dilemma
Despite the last 12 months being difficult for Maguire, he has remained at Manchester United. Many supporters would have wanted him to leave during the summer, as it looked like his career at Old Trafford was over. West Ham United were an option for him during the summer, but a deal couldn’t be fully agreed between the three parties. As a result, it would be unwise for Manchester United to throw him to one side, as he is still on their books.
Maguire’s Professionalism and Confidence
There have never been any doubts about Maguire’s professionalism. Ten Hag hasn’t been afraid to drop players for not being professional, as the current Jadon Sancho situation shows. There haven’t been any leaks that suggest that Maguire has caused any issues behind the scenes. For the defender, the issue has been his confidence.
Facing the Critics
Over the last year, he has become a figure of fun and has been targeted by opposition fans for both Manchester United and England. His worst moment to date came during the recent match against Scotland. Maguire scored an own goal and was mocked by the supporters in the stadium. This led to Gareth Southgate and his own mother coming out in the press to lambast the treatment he has had.
Return to Form
Maguire will want to focus on his football and Tuesday was a timely reminder of his quality, both with and without the ball. He completed 93% of his 116 passes and grew in confidence as the game progressed. The England international was always making himself an option in possession, which is why he surpassed 100 passes during the match.
Defensively, he won all of his aerial duels, which won’t be a surprise, as this is one of his biggest strengths. Palace would have been hoping to carry a threat from set pieces, but they couldn’t get much joy from Maguire. Further to his aerial strength, Maguire made two tackles, two interceptions and two clearances. It was an important performance for him personally, as he didn’t put a foot wrong and this could be the first step to finding his form again.
Future Prospects Under Ten Hag
Lisandro Martinez should be available again soon, but this performance from Maguire will put pressure on Ten Hag to give him more minutes. It is unlikely that the former captain will ever become a regular starter under the current manager. He doesn’t seem to fit into the style of play, but he should be able to play more often in 2023/24.
Optimism for Maguire and United
Tuesday was a good day for Maguire and Manchester United supporters will be encouraged. If Maguire continues to play like that, he could still have a part to play at the club this season.