Harry Maguire: United’s rock at the back

Following his £80m move to Manchester United from Leicester City, Harry Maguire’s reputation has gone up in the footballing world. The huge price tag did increase the expectations on the United skipper. However, the United defender quickly adjusted to life at Old Trafford. In his first season he took the captaincy off Ashley Young, who left for Italy. Maguire is now a crucial part of the Red’s backline and the England set-up.

Strengths and weaknesses

When, he first came to the Red’s, there were some serious question marks regarding the price tag. Many pundits thought that the Red Devil’s purchased an average defender for a hefty fee. The price tag did increase the expectations on the England international, especially in his first season at United.

During his first season, Maguire won the fans over. His aerial ability and his ability to play out from the back was refreshing for the Old Trafford faithful to see after the years of Smalling and Jones. The 28-year-old defender has many exceptional qualities. For example he has a brilliant reading of the game, which allows him to intercept the ball at crucial times. He also has a wide range of passes in his locker, which is key to the Red’s transitioning into a possession team. Furthermore, in his two years at United, Maguire has displayed outstanding leadership skills, which saw him become the United skipper.

Although, Maguire is a crucial part of the United backline, he does have some weaknesses. His most clear weakness is his lack of pace. This flaw has been shown even more during his time at United, due to the lack of pace of fellow defender Victor Lindelöf. The pair do not have the pace to keep up with some of the league’s best attackers and this was a massive issue for the Red’s. Consequently, Ed Woodwood has brought in Raphael Varane. Varane is known for his speed and would compliment Maguire better than Lindelöf.

So why is Maguire important to United?

The Red Devil’s brought in Maguire for a massive fee due to them desperately needing a commanding centre-back. Former Manchester United boss Jose Mourinho is a big admirer of the ball-playing centre-back. In his final year at United, Mourinho begged the board to sanction a move for Maguire, a deal reportedly worth £65m. The Manchester United hierarchy did not agree with Mourinho at the time, but brought the defender in a year later and for more money.

Maguire’s presence alone brought a new dynamic to the Red Devils backline. The former Leicester player brought a feeling of calmness to the backline. This was something that United fans hadn’t seen for years. In addition to this Maguire developed a crucial relationship with left-back Luke Shaw.

Harry Maguire’s ball-playing qualities often go under the radar. Maguire can effortlessly play a 40-yard-ball to an attacker such as Marcus Rashford. This is extremely useful to Ole Gunnar Solskjaer, who has a lot of trust in his captain. His ability to play out from the back, allows United to escape a high press and relieve pressure from the opposition. This alone probably makes Maguire the first name on Solskjaer’s team-sheet.

The arrival of Varane

In an attempt to launch a challenge for the Premier League title this year, United have brought in Varane. Varane will slot into the Red’s backline and could make his debut this weekend. Maguire and Varane could become a world-class partnership and bring United silverware. Maguire’s aerial superiority combined with Varane’s pace will reduce the amount of goals United concede throughout the season.

The importance of Maguire to United was shown last season when Maguire picked up an injury at Villa Park. In his absence, Lindelöf and Eric Bailly took over and this was not ideal at all. Liverpool came to Old Trafford and put four past Henderson, in which United’s defence became very nervy without Maguire. Lindelöf and Bailly are not known for their leadership qualities and this was costly in the Europa League final. The final was where it was made clear that United need Harry Maguire.

Is Maguire United’s best defender?

Maguire has made significant improvements each year during his time at United. On paper, he is Manchester United’s best defender. He is almost irreplaceable, as he is the spine of the United defence. This could change with the arrival of Varane, who many see as world-class. However, it could be said that United duo Luke Shaw and Harry Maguire did display world-class form at the Euros. The backline of Shaw, Maguire, Varane and Aaron Wan-Bissaka could bring an end to United’s trophy drought. This heavily depends on Maguire staying fit for the entirety of the season. Alongside Bruno Fernandes, Maguire remains United’s most important player.

Author: Rajan Sangha

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