How Harry Maguire toughed it out: stripped of the captaincy and booed by his own fans… the defender has re-emerged as a key figure
- Harry Maguire has found his way back into the Man United starting XI
- The defender was on the verge of leaving the club in the summer
- Man Utd are NOT good enough to have a ball-playing keeper – It’s All Coming Up
For Manchester United, this has been a period to dig in and soldier on. To take setbacks in their stride and hope for better times around the corner.
In Harry Maguire, United have a player who is no stranger to such adversity.
Stripped of the captaincy, booed by his own fans and touted to West Ham in the summer, you wondered just how much more humiliation he could take after being reduced to a bit-part player by Erik ten Hag.
Credit to Maguire, he has kept his counsel and his dignity. The 30-year-old has re-emerged through it all as a key figure for United once again thanks to his own dogged perseverance and, it appears, Ten Hag’s strained relationship with centre back Raphael Varane.
It is no longer a case of whether Maguire plays but of who plays next to him. Victor Lindelof got the nod here in the absence of Lisandro Martinez, Luke Shaw and Jonny Evans in what was a throwback to the days under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer.
Harry Maguire has found his way back into the Manchester United starting XI
It worked well for Ten Hag as Lindelof maintained a theme of United’s defenders bailing out their misfiring strikers by scoring decisive goals this season as the Swede claimed his first in almost three years.
Maguire, Varane and Diogo Dalot have been among United’s other matchwinners.
Maguire was in dominant form again to help United over the line against a spirited Luton, continuing to justify his decision to turn down a £30million move to West Ham in the summer and tough it out at Old Trafford.
‘I was willing to stay and fight for my place,’ said Maguire.
‘I am really enjoying my football and I really enjoy playing for this club. I played a few games last year and I felt like I performed really well. I just didn’t play as many as I would have liked.
‘I had to bide my time and be patient but I broke down with illness and injuries twice, so I never got the rhythm and run of games that I could prove myself to the manager. I’ve got that now.’
Maguire now heads off to join England manager Gareth Southgate, who has supported him through a difficult time, for the Euro 2024 qualifiers against Malta and North Macedonia.
Ten Hag, meanwhile, can breathe a little easier during the international break after a fourth win in five Premier League games lifted his team to within touching distance of the top four.
It doesn’t take into account painful Champions League defeats by Copenhagen and Galatasaray, as well as an embarrassing Carabao Cup exit at the hands of Newcastle.
Maguire looked on the verge of leaving united in the summer but he has bounced back
That won’t be lost on Sir Jim Ratcliffe and his Ineos advisers as they prepare to sweep into Old Trafford.
Ten Hag isn’t out of the woods yet and some tough fixtures await when United return to action later this month.
The Dutchman will be banished to the stands for the first of them at Everton as punishment for picking up his third booking of the season.
Ten Hag can only hope that his Danish duo of Rasmus Hojlund and Christian Eriksen are not sitting with him at Goodison Park after limping off injured on Saturday.
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