Manchester United skipper Harry Maguire has had plenty of critics since his big-money move to Old Trafford. But the team’s performances in his absence have proved just how vital the England man is.
While some fans will always feel £80million (BBC) was too much to spend on Maguire, his influence is most keenly felt by his absence.
United’s defence was shambolic against Liverpool. Even Dean Henderson – previously rock solid – looked wobbly without the captain in front of him.
To be fair to the young stopper, he prevented at least two more goals with some fine goalkeeping. But parrying the ball into the danger zone for the visitors’ third was out of habit for Henderson.
In front of him, Eric Bailly and Victor Lindelof looked anything but sturdy. Maguire may not be everyone’s cup of tea, but he is United’s best centre-back.
Anyone who thought that honour belonged to Bailly will surely be swayed given the Ivorian’s gung-ho approach and the fact United have shipped six goals in two games.
Leading by example
Maguire is United’s captain for a reason. He leads this side brilliantly and is never afraid to get stuck in.
In contrast, too many times United’s defence looked non-existent in the 28-year-old’s absence.
Against Leicester, United conceded from a corner when Maguire’s dominance was absent. Two days later, they shipped another at the far post.
Fred deserves plenty of blame as he continued his habit of giving the ball away with alarming consequences. But Maguire’s absence cannot be understated.
The United centre-back started game after game for a reason. Ole Gunnar Solskjaer trusts him and his team are better with the England international in his side.
If United can sign a defender to shine alongside Maguire next season, a title charge will well and truly be on.