Harry Maguire impresses on return to Manchester United starting line-up
Manchester United defender Harry Maguire produced one of his better performances of the season upon his return to the starting line-up against West Ham.
The Reds club captain would have likely been on the bench once again if Victor Lindelof was available.
But with the Swede not considered for selection for the clash against the Hammers, following the break-in at his house during Wednesday’s game against Brentford, United’s number five came back into the side.
The former Leicester City man hadn’t started a Premier League game since picking up a chest injury in the last match of 2021 against Burnley.
The England international came off the bench against the Bees alongside Lindelof and Raphael Varane in a back three for the last 20 minutes.
Back in the starting line-up alongside Varane for the crucial clash against the Hammers, Maguire was up against one of the league’s quickest and strongest strikers in Michail Antonio.
But instead of seeing the tepid and indecisive Maguire that we have seen with too much regularity since his return from the European Championships, the 28-year-old looked assured and commanding.
Unlike under Ole Gunnar Solskjaer where the £80m (BBC Sport) man was back in the side even if he was undercooked or carrying injuries, interim boss Ralf Rangnick hasn’t been afraid to make big and bold calls.
It looks like the German’s approach may be paying off as Maguire looked motivated and hungry to impress upon his return.
Aggressive and looking to get his side on the front foot, Maguire was throwing himself into tackles and standing up to the challenge Antonio posed.
But he was also striding out of defence in possession and firing the ball out to our wingers, injecting a tempo and urgency to our play.
Dominating in the air, only Scott McTominay (8) won more aerial duels than Maguire (5), according to WhoScored.
Maguire had 99 touches against David Moyes’ side, more than any other player on the pitch. He attempted 86 passes at Old Trafford, which was 24 more than anybody else, he completed 68 of them (79%).
He also made one tackle, one interception, four clearances and blocked one shot.
Match of the Day pundit Danny Murphy felt that Maguire’s return to the side was “really impressive”.
With Varane hopefully over his injury troubles and showing signs of settling in England, United need a settled and established centre-back partnership as we enter the crucial months of the season.
Varane and Maguire have only started and completed the 90 minutes together on six occasions this season, but in those games we have won five and drawn one (Transfermarkt).
With bigger tests to come, starting next month, United need Harry Maguire and Raphael Varane to continue on their upward trajectory.
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