When England revealed their line-up for the World Cup opening against Iran at the Khalifa International Stadium, Harry Maguire grabbed center stage, but after 90 minutes, Manchester United had been handed the blueprint they needed to revitalize their £80 million captain.
Maguire was backed by Three Lions leader Gareth Southgate despite falling behind Raphael Varane, Lisandro Martinez, and Victor Lindelof in the defensive pecking order since Erik ten Hag’s appointment as manager at Old Trafford in the summer. He not only made their 26-man squad but was also picked to their starting XI on Monday afternoon for their Group B opener against Iran.
Given his domestic troubles – or, at the very least, lack of game experience – one decision raised questions prior to the game, but Maguire went on to perfectly justify that selection. He hit the crossbar with a header and also assisted Bukayo Saka as England cruised to a 6-2 victory in their Group B opening.
Maguire, 29, was forced off late in the game and has now clarified that concerning substitution. Meanwhile, if he continues to play on the field, the center-back might prove Jamie Carragher incorrect and utilize this tournament as a springboard for his Old Trafford career, which Carragher has stated is over.
In his Daily Telegraph column earlier this season, Maguire stated of Maguire, “I think it is too late at club level.” Last year, I wrote that he was fighting for his Manchester United career.
“He needs this to be his last season at Old Trafford and a fresh start.” It is now England’s concern.
“I felt sad for Maguire when I saw him in the last two [England] games [in September].” But that is not a nice appearance for any athlete. Sympathy will not restore him to his former self.”
Sympathy was not required, but confidence was, as Alan Shearer pointed out in his pre-match analysis for the Iran encounter on BBC Sport. Southgate appears to have given him that, and the two of them appear to have offered Ten Hag a blueprint to follow back at Old Trafford.
“I can’t tell you how much that did to me [being backed for England by Terry Venables],” Shearer added.
“I hadn’t scored in two years for England, but I was scoring for Blackburn.” The number of players putting me under pressure; Wright, Cole, Ferdinand, Sheringham, Fowler, all of these men, so the manager might have dropped him for Euro 1996.
“However, he drew me aside and told me, ‘You will be my number one center-forward.’ You will begin the first game.’
“I looked at Terry and thought, ‘Wow, I can’t let you down, and I owe you.'” If Harry had been named to that team, he would have looked at the manager and said, ‘Thank you, I owe you.’
Maguire’s United fans will be hoping that this is the confidence boost he needs to get his United career back on track.