Manchester United manager Erik ten Hag praised Harry Maguire after he made a rare start against Everton.
The 30-year-old made his 12th Premier League appearance of the season in the 2-0 win over Everton, replacing Raphael Varane in the starting XI. Despite his lack of first-team experience, Maguire performed admirably throughout, assisting the Red Devils in keeping a second consecutive clean sheet.
Ten Hag’s decision to give Maguire a start was a statement of faith, and the England international did exactly what he needed to and impressed. Following the game, the Dutchman lavished praise on Maguire and revealed why he performed so brilliantly.
“It’s not easy for Harry, and if you then deliver the performance he did today, really well done,” Ten Hag remarked. In and out of control, commanding and dominating. That is my request to him, and he has transported it to the pitch.”
This comes after it was claimed that United staff were skeptical of Maguire’s defensive qualities and his ability to consistently deliver for the club. According to ESPN, there is a sense that Maguire lacks mobility, which is becoming increasingly important in today’s game.
Another point of concern is when Maguire decides to run out of the backline to win challenges, which isn’t always successful and undermines their defensive framework. Those at Carrington are concerned that this will cost them in the future, particularly if United is caught off guard on the counter-attack against a quick side.
This season, Maguire has been the third-choice center-back behind Varane and Lisandro Martinez, with Victor Lindelof also competing for a starting berth. Maguire has been linked with a stunning return to Leicester, four years after leaving the Foxes, due to his lack of game time.
“I’m the club captain, and I have a lot of responsibility on and off the pitch, so it was nice to get on and help the lads,” he said in February. In interviews, the manager has been asked about my role countless times, and he has stated unequivocally that he believes in me, but this is football.
“The lads who are starting, Raphael is playing really well, and we’ve seen the manager’s ideas, what he wants, and he plays like a left-footed centre-back.” So there’s a lot of competition for spots, but this is Manchester United. We want to win huge trophies, and in order to do so, we need competition.
“The manager speaks to me on a daily basis; he truly respects me and believes that I am a top center-half with all of the qualities to play in his team.” But he also recognizes that the players on the field – and I recognize that the players on the field – are performing admirably.”