Harry Maguire has confessed that he will have to fight for a place in Manchester United’s bright new future under Erik ten Hag.
Ten Hag’s first season in charge ended United’s six-year trophy drought with a 2-0 Carabao Cup final triumph over Newcastle at Wembley on Sunday. The most visible casualty of Ten Hag’s arrival has been United captain Maguire, with Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez becoming the first-choice central defensive partnership.
Maguire, who came on for the final two minutes at Wembley, said Ten Hag had been open and honest with him about his situation, but that it has been difficult to watch from the sidelines. “I’m a footballer who wants to play games and contribute to the squad,” Maguire explained.
“I’m the club captain and I have a great duty on and off the pitch so it was nice to come in and support the lads. 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 players that are playing and starting, Raphael is playing extremely well and we’ve seen the manager’s ideas, what he wants, and he does want a left-footed center-back playing. 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 daily, he truly respects me and believes that I’m a quality center-half with all the attributes 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.”
Maguire, who has played just five of United’s 24 Premier League games this season, denied having mixed feelings after lifting the Carabao Cup alongside captain Bruno Fernandes.
“No, I don’t have any conflicting feelings,” Maguire remarked. “It’s been a long time since the club has won a trophy, so it’s a fantastic day for the club and the fans.” I’m the club captain, and my major job is to drive this club ahead and bring success back to the club, which I’ve done today.
“Obviously, listen, I am a footballer who wants to play games and lead the boys out of the tunnel at the start of the game.”
But I also understand that when you play at the highest level, there is a lot of rivalry for positions.
“It’s a great nice day for the club and for me, and it’s a proud day for my family, who were there to see me raise my first trophy for Manchester United.”
Maguire, who turns 30 on Sunday, believes Ten Hag has built the groundwork for United’s long-term success with his high standards, tactical skill, and unwavering drive to win.
“We’re all pulling in the same way, we’re all looking for the same goal, we’ve got a terrific team, excellent competition for places, and the manager’s had a significant impact on the style of play and the expectations he brings,” Maguire added. “When I initially got to this club it felt like we’d turned a corner, then we had a horrible season and things shifted again.
“But the belief in the group, the players, and the staff is the reason why we’re moving forward. “I’m in a great mood.” The guys get along great and are a close group. The men who aren’t playing, including myself, are working hard and pushing those who are to do well, which they are. That is what a major club is all about.”