It doesn’t matter at this point whether Harry Maguire was your first, second, or even sixth or seventh choice for Manchester United to sign a centre-back last summer.
He was the player Ole Gunnar Solskjaer put his faith in, persuading Ed Woodward to commit £80 million to sign him from Leicester.
Maguire’s debut was promising back in a 4-0 victory over Chelsea, but the first half of this season was pretty underwhelming.
The England international couldn’t quite click with Victor Lindelöf. They showed some promising signs, but there was a long wait without a Premier League clean sheet, United’s worst run for more than 40 years, between early September and late December.
This wasn’t necessarily Maguire’s fault, he hadn’t played badly, but something wasn’t working.
2020 has seen it all come together
United’s defence has been much improved in recent weeks, and Maguire has been the key.
He has taken the responsibility as club captain after Ashley Young was sold and instead of wilting under pressure, he has thrived with it.
Maguire is a natural leader and his impact has been felt in recent weeks as United keep an impressive run of clean sheets.
Remarkably the defence has conceded just eight goals in 10 games, with one of those being David de Gea’s freak mistake against Everton.
United look solid and even up against City on Sunday, he gave the defence a confidence which meant we rarely looked troubled.
With Maguire in the backline, United’s backline may bend, but it won’t break, as it did at times last season, like the 4-0 loss at Everton.
Maguire deserves respect
Manchester City may wonder how their season may have panned out if they had paid up for Maguire in the summer, especially given their injury problems this season in defence.
Maguire has been a warrior, rarely missing a game, making 40 appearances for United already this season in all competitions, all of them starts.
He is averaging 4.7 aerial duels won per game, bettered only by two defenders this season, Burnley’s James Tarkowski (5), and rival Virgil van Dijk (4.9).
Maguire averages 1.1 tackles per game to Van Dijk’s 0.8, and 1.9 interceptions to the Dutchman’s 1.0 per match. [Figures via Whoscored.com]
At £80 million, there were intense demands on Maguire this season. He has come into a tough situation, and excelled.
Right now he is playing really well and isn’t necessarily getting the plaudits he deserves.
If he carries this form on, and into the Euros with England, perhaps then Maguire will get the adulation from the national media which his performances warrant.
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