As manager Erik ten Hag made it very plain that Harry Maguire might be in line for a new position, Maguire’s Manchester United career may have been given one last chance.
The captain of the Red Devils is still the most expensive defender in football history, but this season he has dropped down the Old Trafford hierarchy. The former Leicester player has started just five Premier League games this season after falling behind Raphael Varane and summer acquisition Lisandro Martinez in the hierarchy of importance.
Ten Hag, though, gave a hint that Maguire might stay after all, saying that the England star had been practicing a slightly different defensive role under his guidance, which was evident in the FA Cup triumph against West Ham.
Speaking after the late victory over the Hammers, the Dutchman said: “It is my way of playing, or our way, and it is better. I prefer to have a player with a lot of initiative [at right centre-back] and when you are left-footed you have better angles [at left centre-back].
“Harry can play on the left but right is obviously much better and today [vs West Ham ] we have seen that. He had a good performance, he took initiative in and out of possession, and so he was dominating in defence but in offence he had some really good moments.
“He had good passes, good engagement with opponents and outplaying them. He played a good game.
“How do we help him with that? In training we give him coaching, we give him instructions. But also not that long ago we showed him a video of how to outplay opponents and how he can have more impact in possession in building up because his skills…he is really high-skilled. For a centre-back he has so many skills. He has to use that in a game.”
Maguire’s versatility throughout the rest of the season and beyond may suggest to Ten Hag that he should be kept on as a member of the team. If his playing time increases, the former Leicester player might possibly be persuaded to remain with the team.
Maguire has previously addressed his role with the Red Devils, assuring that Ten Hag has full faith in him while also acknowledging the difficult road ahead of him to make the team. The manager has been asked about my role in interviews a lot, and he tells me honestly that he believes in me, but this is football, he remarked following the Red Devils’ Carabao Cup victory.
“The lads who are playing and starting, Raphael [Varane] is playing really well and we’ve seen the manager’s ideas, what he wants, and he does like a left-footed centre-back playing. So it’s high competition for places, but this is Manchester United. We want to win trophies, big trophies, and to do that you need competition.
“The manager speaks to me daily, he really respects me and believes that I’m a top centre-half with all the attributes to play in his team. But also he understands that the players who are playing – and I understand that the players who are playing – are playing very well.”
Man United supporters adore Steve McClaren’s remark to Erik ten Hag right after their FA Cup victory
Manchester United’s unbeaten streak was extended and they advanced to the quarterfinals of the FA Cup thanks to Erik ten Hag’s inspirational leadership.
After Wednesday’s FA Cup victory over West Ham, Steve McClaren lauded manager Erik ten Hag, and Manchester United fans couldn’t contain their joy.
With Said Benrahma’s opening goal, the Hammers were only 15 minutes away from advancing to the quarterfinals. Alejandro Garnacho and Fred’s late goals handed Ten Hag’s team the victory after Nayef Aguerd’s own goal had leveled the game.
During the victory, coach McClaren appeared to commend manager Ten Hag for having a “winning mindset,” which was evidently valued by fans, as he walked down the Old Trafford dugout steps.
Since the World Cup, the newly crowned Carabao Cup champions have only lost once and amassed 23 points from 10 Premier League contests.
“So wholesome also that Ten Hag shies away from taking the credit,” one Twitter user said in reply to the footage. Another quite simply said: “Ten Hag has turned the club around.”
“I have realised something amazing about Ten Hag,” wrote another. “After every game, he always waits up to congratulate the bench and his staff until every one of them exits. Always giving them credit to a job well done.”
There was also plenty of praise for McClaren, including references to his successes as part of Sir Alex Ferguson’s coaching staff during his first Old Trafford spell. “I rate McClaren. It takes a lot to allow the apprentice to become the master and he’s doing amazing things with ETH!” one fan wrote.
Harry Maguire, the captain of Manchester United, recalled the manager’s remarks at halftime that spurred the late comeback. After losing to Real Sociedad in a Europa League group match in September, the Red Devils have gone undefeated at Old Trafford.
“He [Ten Hag] went fairly strong, to be honest, he knew we had to up it,” Maguire told MUTV. “We knew it, or we’d lose the game. To come out as well and for them to score a great goal, although we thought it was out. I know you have to play to the whistle and I’m sure we’ll get a telling-off from the manager, but the last 30 minutes we found something.
“The crowd sucƙed the ball into the back of the net at the Stretford End. It was a tough game. The first half we weren’t at our best, a bit slow, I don’t know why. Maybe Sunday, with the celebrations, as we lacked a little bit of tempo. We spoke about the game, tonight was all about winning and progressing.”
Next up for Ten Hag’s team is a Premier League trip to Liverpool on Sunday followed by the first leg of their Europa League last-16 clаsh with Real Betis. They will take on Fulham in the FA Cup quarter-finals, hosting Marco Silva’s side shortly after the second leg of their European tie in mid-March.