When England геvеаled their starting lineup for the World Cup opener against Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium, Harry Maguire took center stage. However, after more than 90 minutes had passed, Manchester United received the instructions they required to revitalize their £80 million captain.
Maguire was supported by Three Lions manager Gareth Southgate despite falling behind Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, and Victor Lindelof in the defensive pecking order since Erik ten Hag was named as manager at Old Trafford in the summer. He was included in their 26-man roster as well as the starting lineup on Monday afternoon for their opening Group B match against Iran.
Prior to the game, some questioned Maguire’s selection because of his domestic difficulties, or at least his lack of playing time, but he went on to fully explain it. He headed against the crossbar and gave Bukayo Saka an assist as England rumbled to a 6-2 victory in their 𝔱hrilling Group B debut.
29-year-old Maguire was removed from the game in the closing minutes and has since explained that uncertain substitution. While playing, the center-back has a chance to disprove Jamie Carragher and use this competition as a springboard for his Old Trafford career, which Carragher has previously stated he believes is over.
Earlier this season, the Liverpool hero wrote about Maguire in his Daily Telegraph column and said: “I think it is too late at club level. I wrote last year he was figҺting for his Manchester United career.
“He needs this to be his final season at Old Trafford and start afresh. Now it is England’s problem.
“When I watched Maguire in the last two [England] games [in September], I felt sorry for him. But that is not a good look for any sportsperson. Sympathy will not get him back where he was two years ago.”
Although sympathy may not have been necessary, confidence was, as Alan Shearer noted in his pre-match analysis for the Iran game on BBC Sport. That is what Southgate appears to have given him, and the two of them have given Ten Hag a strategy to implement at Old Trafford.
Shearer added: “I can’t tell you how much that did to me [being backed for England by Terry Venables].
“I hadn’t scored for England in two years, but I was scoring for Blackburn. The number of players that were putting me under pressure; Wright, Cole, Ferdinand, Sheringham, Fowler, all of these guys so it would’ve been easier for the manager [to drop him for Euro 1996].
“But he pulled me to one side and said; ‘You will be my number one centre-forward. You will start that first game’.
“I looked at Terry and said; ‘Wow, I can’t let you down and I owe you’. It will be similar for Harry for him to be named in that team, he would’ve looked at the manager and said; ‘Thank you, I owe you’.”
United supporters will be hoping that it gives Maguire the confidence boost he needs to restart his United career.