|Harry Maguire was this week backed by England manager Gareth Southgate. — AFP Photo|
In the summer of 2019 after Liverpool signed Virgil van Dijk for around $93 million, making him the world’s most expensive defender, Harry Maguire swapped Leicester City for Manchester United in a deal just shy of $100 million.
Immediately, the comparisons began.
Dutchman van Dijk instantly settled into the Liverpool back four and the improvements in their defence were plain to see. He was likened to a Rolls Royce.
Maguire, on the other hand, struggled in a major way. A clapped-out, rusty old Toyota Corolla would probably be the automobile equivalent.
(I did actually own a clapped-out, rusty old Toyota Corolla in the past and can testify how awful it was).
I did actually feel a bit sorry for Harry at the time, and thought some, but not all, of the criticism was unnecessary and a little OTT.
Fast forward four years and the stick dished out to the central defender has intensified.
Problem I saw was that at Leicester, where Maguire shined, his roll was far different to how Manchester United play.
No disrespect to the east Midlands club, but Leicester are really a team that defends far, far deeper than United ever will. They are a team that plays on the back foot.
It’s similar with England, a completely different style of defence to what Erik ten Hag plays at Old Trafford. With the national side, Maguire often plays in a back-three, a position that clearly suits him best.
This week, after yet another Maguire blunder (he scored an own goal in England’s victory over Scotland) manager Gareth Southgate came out all guns blazing post-match defending Maguire.
“We're creating a problem for our own player,” the England manager fumed.
“Some of the articles that were written, some of the comments that were made, were an absolute joke.
“He's been a tower of strength for us through one of the most successful periods of English football and the response tonight – I understand Scottish fans, they're having some fun – but it's created by our own side, it's ridiculous.”
Southgate was clearly incandescent with rage over the criticism dished out to Maguire but I really don’t see what good his comments will do.
If anything, it will put the defender even more under the spotlight in the coming weeks.
That said, the chances of him playing for Manchester United in the near future are slim to none. In the last transfer window a move to West Ham failed to materialise and he’s clearly way down the peaking order in ten Hag’s mind.
Who knows what the future holds for Maguire. He’s clearly a good footballer in the right time playing to his strengths.
Sadly Harry, that’s not the case for you at Manchester United. — VNS