Manchester United ended 2021 on a high note with a convincing win over Burnley at Old Trafford.
The night was not quite perfect, with United failing to keep a clean sheet with Aaron Lennon scoring late in the first half.
While it was Eric Bailly who gave the ball away with a poor touch, defensive partner Harry Maguire did not cover himself in glory either, backing off Lennon as he ran with the ball and failing to close him down.
This came just minutes after Maguire was lucky not to give away a free-kick after missing a header, and then trying to pull Chris Wood back by tugging his shirt.
It was a poor piece of defending that United fans have become accustomed to seeing from Maguire this season.
Even in injury time Maguire was beaten to a header which David de Gea had to save, to compound an underwhelming display.
The club captain has let his performances drop since the Euros and does not look like the £80 million player the club hoped they were getting when Ed Woodward buckled to Leicester’s extravagant demands in 2019.
Settled partnership would help
Maguire must take responsibility for his own performances and improve, but United can help him out by finding a settled partnership at centre-back, with plenty of chopping and changing in recent weeks.
The intention on United’s part is for Maguire and Raphael Varane to establish themselves together as a pairing, although this will take time.
Varane’s injury problems led to caution from Rangnick last night, with the manager sensibly choosing not to start him for a second time in four days.
A settled partnership can help Maguire, although the question on the lips of many United supporters is over whether the team are better off without him?
Could a duo of Victor Lindelof and Raphael Varane turn out to be United’s best? Could Eric Bailly actually complement Varane well, or will the pair’s fitness issues deny this ever becoming a reality?
The way Maguire is playing, it is leading fans to wonder. Luke Shaw came back looking refreshed against Burnley after a prolonged spell on the sidelines.
Leaving Maguire out for a similar span could end up being what he needs to get back in form, whether he likes it or not.
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