by Paul Kennedy
SPOT OF BOTHER. Manchester United’s Harry Maguire leaves a courthouse on the Greek island of Syros over the weekend. — AFP/VNA Photo
Regular readers of this column will know full well I’m no fan of Manchester United. That said I must give credit where credit is due.
For me, Sir Alex Ferguson is the greatest club manager the world has ever seen. Roy Keane is the one player I wished more than any other played for Liverpool and not United, and in his prime, Wayne Rooney was just a joy to watch.
Throw into the mix Eric Cantona, who I believe is the most influential foreigner to ever grace the Premier League (plus he is super cool), and from a fan’s point of view, I do, begrudgingly admire United.
So despite my genuine detest for all things Red Devil, I have an underlying respect for what they have achieved in my lifetime. And today, they still remain one of, if not the, biggest football club in the world.
That’s why I was staggered to read over the weekend the exploits of their club captain, Harry Maguire.
If you’ve been living under a rock for the past week or so, let me fill you in. Maguire and his buddies have been holidaying in Greece.
After racking up a single night’s bar bill somewhere in the region of twice the annual salary of the average Joe, Harry and co proceeding to get into a spot of bother first with a bunch of non-United fans on their holidays and then with the Greek police.
After a couple of nights behind bars, Maguire was released after paying a fine, somewhere in the region of the bar bill he forked out the night before.
It was around US$100,000. And no, despite internet rumours, United didn’t offer $60,000 and Phil Jones and Jesse Lindgard in exchange for bailing him out. Greeks weren’t interested, apparently.
Maguire flew back to England with his tail between his legs and a court in Greece sentenced him to 21 months in prison, with the sentence suspended. Harry says he will appeal.
Things aren’t exactly going well for United right now. Sure, they got to the semis of the Europa League which when you have your heart set on Champions League glory is about the equivalent of getting dumped by Danni Minogue when you’ve always really had your eye on Kylie.
Yes, they have finished in the top four and will play among Europe’s elite next season, but this is still a far cry from the United of old.
That’s why right now they need more than ever a leader and not a captain who is out on the lash getting into bar brawls with English louts on a Greek island.
Maguire is a fool. Why on God’s Earth he thought it necessary to first of all go there in the first place, but secondly get into a ruck with a bunch of lager louts is beyond me.
Yes, there are reports his sister was injured before he got involved and that’s deplorable, but for crying out loud… why Greece? Why a hotspot for booze and two-for-one drinks? And why get into a scrap to boot?
He is the captain of Manchester United for Christ’s sake. He should know better and he needs to know better. This is 2020, and everyone these days is a journalist. Everyone is a camera man or woman, and everyone is more than ready to record your antics and splash it all over social media before you can say “free shot of ouzo for every entry before 10pm”.
Where was his security? Where was his restraint? And more importantly, where was his common sense?
Sorry Harry, you have been an idiot. And I hope (but doubt) United strip you of your captaincy.
Although I hate United more than life itself, you do not deserve to lead that still great football club week in and week out.
Instead, you really need to grow up. VNS