Harry Maguire’s form has become an immediate concern for Manchester United.
Maguire played poorly before the international break, but the hope was that a change of scenery could do him good.
This backfired spectacularly, with Maguire receiving a red card 30 minutes into England’s match against Denmark.
Now Maguire becomes a problem which United have to solve.
He clearly is not himself, his performances are not reflective of his quality, and it looks like he needs a break.
Even at a time when an unforgiving fixture list does not offer any easy chance to take a breather, it is sensible for the United defender to take a little break.
Where has it gone wrong?
The obvious factor being pointed to is Maguire’s summer arrest in Greece.
This came during a brief holiday and resulted in him spending two night behind bars before being released and his conviction quashed [BBC].
This is certainly a contributing part of Maguire’s sharp decline in form.
But Ole Gunnar Solskjaer must also accept some responsibility himself.
The United manager chose not to give Maguire a break last season, picking him to start 54 matches.
This was a total of 4,962 minutes in one season. While Maguire’s durability was admirable, it could also have been his undoing.
You cannot select a player for this amount of games and minutes in one year and expect there to be no knock-on effects.
Maguire was run into the ground and now he is paying the price, mentally and physically fatigued.
United chose to ignore Eric Bailly in league games last season after his return in February, with the Ivorian making just one start.
Solskjaer could have mixed him in more, and then this summer, United chose not to sign a centre-back.
Maguire was thrown straight back into the team and has played 360 minutes for United already, four out of five games in all competitions, with the only clean sheet coming away at Luton.
This was a conscious move from Solskjaer made in full knowledge of his situation in Greece, with the manager taking the view, Harry will be fine.
Well, he isn’t, and United are paying the price. His performances to start the season have been very poor.
There are options to replace him, and Solskjaer needs to be brave and trust them. Last season he was afraid to be without Maguire, and now he needs to decrease that reliance, as it is not doing anybody any favours.
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