Harry Maguire prepared to fight for future at Manchester United with Erik ten Hag backing
WEMBLEY STADIUM, LONDON – He may not have come off the bench until the 88th minute, but when the final whistle blew few celebrated Manchester United’s Carabao Cup final victory as heartily as Harry Maguire.
The world’s most expensive defender, who turns 30 seven days after the final at Wembley, was previously a fast-man chasing big trophies. He signed for Leicester City a year after their impressive Premier League title win and as a Man United player he has finished no higher than second in the top flight. He was part of the England side that lost the Euro 2020 final on penalties on home soil and the Europa League final against Villarreal with the Red Devils that same summer.
After Man United’s 2-0 win over Newcastle United, while holding the trophy alongside Bruno Fernandes, captain of the day, Maguire wore an expression rarely seen in recent years: an expression more irrepressible Joy.
“It’s been a little too long,” he said afterwards. “Our last final was a disappointment on penalties in the Europa League so we knew it was really important for the club to get past that step.
“Winning games gives confidence, a good atmosphere among the fans and at the club. We’re all pushing in the same direction, we all want the same thing. We have a good squad now, good competition for places and the coach.” obviously had a big impact on the style of play, what he wants, the demands he brings.”
There is no doubt about it. Erik ten Hag has restored much of Man United’s skill since the misery of last season, the worst in Premier League history. Although they would have been disappointed to lose to Newcastle, such a result would not have diminished their progress.
However, most of that positive attitude came from club captain Maguire, who watched from the sidelines.
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Man United have won 29 games in all competitions this season, more than any other team in Europe’s top five leagues. Maguire has only started five of those wins.
After captaining the team in losses to Brighton & Hove Albion, Brentford and Real Sociedad in August and September, Maguire lost his starting spot to Raphael Varane and new signing Lisandro Martinez. This partnership of two world champions was crucial for United as it brought a crucial combination of strength, steel, passing skills and pace to the defense and pinned Maguire in a backup role.
It was a clear fall from grace for a player United paid £80million to sign from Leicester City in 2019 and who, one must recall, made a huge impact on improving a creaky in his first season at the club defense of United had. Maguire transitioned remarkably quickly from the record-breaking signing to captaining the club and becoming a scapegoat.
Taking him out of the line of fire became a bold call for Ten Hag to make. United’s strong performances without the England international, combined with Maguire’s bid to retain his place as his country’s first choice, have led to suggestions that paths will part this summer – especially if Ten Hag fail to match the player’s qualities appreciates.
But Maguire doesn’t see it that way, although he wishes it could be otherwise.
“When I first came to this club we felt like we turned the corner and then we had a bad season and things changed again,” he said. “If you’ve spoken to the manager I think he has great confidence in his tools, in his work and in the squad he’s building, both in terms of the players and the staff behind him.
“I’m a footballer who wants to play games; I always want to contribute to the team. I’m a club captain and I know I have a lot of responsibility on and off the pitch. It was nice to come onto the pitch.” and help the boys.
“He’s been asked many times in interviews about my role and my things and he honestly tells me: he believes in me. But this is football. The guys that play, Rapha plays really well. He sees his team as he wants , he.” likes a left-footed centre-back so it’s tough competition for places. This is Manchester United – we want to win trophies, big trophies and to do that you need a big competition for places.
“The coach talks to me every day, he really respects me and he believes I’m a top centre-back with all the qualities to play in his team.”
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Maguire was certainly in no mood to complain about his reduced minutes on Sunday. A late cameo to see a definitive triumph was enough to bring out that beaming smile not seen too often at Old Trafford.
“I don’t have mixed feelings,” Maguire said. “It’s been so long for this club [not] Winning trophies and today is a really good day for the club and for the fans.
“Like I said, I’m the club captain and my main job is to bring this club forward, to bring success back. Today is part of that. Of course I’m a footballer who wants to play games and I want that.” course, to lead the boys into the tunnel at the beginning of the game. But I understand football, that’s part of football when you’re playing at the top level and there’s huge competition for places.”
This competition has brought a new level of competitiveness to United. In the crucial 10 days of their season in February, they beat Leeds United and Leicester City in La Liga, beat Barcelona out of the Europa League play-offs and lifted their first trophy since 2017. They remain the only team in Europe’s top divisions capable of winning in 2022 /23 a quadruple.
As unlikely as that sounds, Maguire sees no reason to drop the standards now.
“Especially since we came back from the World Cup I think we’ve played really well,” he said.
“Before the World Cup, we had a great fight, a great spirit, but we didn’t really take the action that the manager wanted. We’ve done that since the World Cup. Today was a bit bumpy, but this is the final — [there were] probably some nerves out there – but two big moments from our side and we managed to lift the trophy which is really important for the club.
“We’re in four competitions or three now because we won one. Of course it will be difficult to win all four, but while we’re at it we try to win every game. The atmosphere is very good, the lads get along very well, it’s a very tight squad, good atmosphere, everyone contributes .
“The guys who don’t play, myself included, work hard and push the guys who play to perform well. That’s what a big club is about. That is what has been built this year.”