Harry Maguire played all 90 minutes in Manchester United’s victory over Leeds and managed to keep a clean sheet in the process.
Maguire partnered Luke Shaw in a new-look United defence, with Lisandro Martinez introduced on the hour mark, with Shaw shifting over to left-back.
After the game Maguire praised ‘world class’ goalkeeper David de Gea, and insisted his own irregular game time was not a big deal as he just wants the team to be successful.
Erik ten Hag was asked about Maguire after the game too, and was keen to make a point that the centre-back still features in his plans.
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Ten Hag makes his point
Erik ten Hag shut down a reporter who made reference to Maguire making his ‘return’ to the team, when interviewed after the game.
United’s website transcription of the post game presser showed how Ten Hag was keen to make a correction to the wording of Maguire ‘returning’.
Ten Hag said: “Return is the wrong remark, because he played against Reading and he played against Bournemouth.
“And Harry will keep playing many games, and we need that, because we are the only team in Europe that is playing in four competitions.”
Ten Hag referenced those games as matches Maguire has started over the past month. He has also featured as a substitute in games.
These included late appearances against Palace, Nottingham Forest, Manchester City and Everton.
This is all a far cry from Maguire’s role under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer when he appeared to be an automatic starter at all costs, which is why the difference is so stark.
United’s options have improved under Ten Hag, with Lisandro Martinez coming in and Raphael Varane enjoying better fortune with his fitness, while Luke Shaw’s dual role as centre-back has added a layer of complication to the mix too, along with Victor Lindelof.
Martinez is suspended for the first leg against Barcelona, and this could be one reason Ten Hag wanted Maguire to get some game time, in case he is needed.
Whether he has a chance of starting the Carabao Cup final later in the half, is another matter. But Maguire will certainly be in the squad, ready to play his part when called upon.