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Harry Maguire is undoubtedly the most heavily criticised player in the Manchester United 2020/21 team – though, in my opinion, I can’t understand why. Maybe it’s because of the £80 million price tag attached to him, or because people don’t like him as the captain of Manchester United, or because he’s made a few errors this season (but who hasn’t). It’d be a lie to say he’s had an almost-perfect season like Luke Shaw, but the things is, Harry Maguire is one of the most consistent players for this Manchester United team and doesn’t deserve the sheer amount of hate that gets thrown his way.
Today, I’ll be drawing in on Maguire’s strengths, weaknesses and why I believe people have such a burning agenda against him…
Harry Maguire currently holds the record for the most minutes spent on the pitch out of any other player in the world, for the 2019/20 season and the 2020/21 season – and I can’t see that changing any time soon.
Maguire’s passing accuracy is one of his most impressive attributes. In the Premier League alone, his passing success rate is 87.1%, with the Europa League being even higher at 90.2% – something that is so vital in comparison to the weaker passing abilities we’ve seen amongst other players in the team recently. Watching the games week on week, no matter how long or short he plays the ball, it nearly always lands at the feet of the player he intended.
Since signing for Manchester United, Maguire has been involved in 25 Premier League clean sheets – more than any other outfield player in that time period, which is an impressive stat. So far this season, he’s contributed to 12 clean sheets, 4 more than Nemanja Vidic in his final two seasons at United.
Earlier in the season, Maguire was criticised, alongside his centre-back partner Lindelof, for not being aggressive enough in the defence. But in the last few weeks, we’ve seen the determination from both of them to not let a ball go past them and into the back of the net. In the West Ham game alone, Maguire used his defensive skills to regain possession 8 times, made 1 crucial block, made 7 clearances from inside the box and ended up being one of his best games in a United shirt. Part of me questions whether some of that is down to Dean Henderson’s presence in goal instilling more confidence in the two of them, but we’ll see if things revert to default once David De Gea returns from personal leave.
Measuring up at 6ft 5inches, Maguire consistently utilises his height to win aerial duels, tallying up a respectable 119 so far in the 2020/21 season – the fifth most out in the league. However, I’d like to see him convert more aerial duel wins into goals, as they pose a huge threat on paper but in reality, 3 goals for the season so far isn’t good considering the number of opportunities he’s been given to head the ball into the back of the net.
Another weakness of Harry Maguire is his ability to read the game. Throughout the season we’ve seen glimpses of excellent passes, but it’s sometimes evident that when he’s gifted the ball, he’s unsure of what to do with it. Unlike Lindelof, we’ve rarely seen Maguire read the game well enough that his movement or passes have led to a potential goal scoring-opportunity, or a goal itself.
With all of that being said, you have to wonder why Maguire is under such constant criticism, judgement and slander from fans – but here’s where I think it stems from:
I believe people have adopted an agenda against Maguire due to the record-breaking price tag that Manchester United paid in the summer of 2019. But it’s important to remember that it’s not his fault that Leicester City priced him that high, just like it’s not his fault that Manchester United willingly handed the £80 million over.
The second contributing factor is that people simply don’t like Maguire as the captain of Manchester United. He’s been criticised in the past for not being vocal enough and not stepping up when it comes to refereeing decisions, but in the past few weeks, we’ve seen him grow into the captain role and become more vocal and commanding on the pitch. Fans have been calling for Bruno Fernandes to snatch the captains armband, but Bruno is a born and bred leader who doesn’t need an armband to show that. Sometimes, it takes time for players to adapt to their roles within a team and I think this is the case for Maguire.
Overall, I think Harry Maguire will be a valuable long-term player for Manchester United and one that will lead this team to trophies. I hope one day (in the near future) fans start to give him the credit and respect that he deserves.
What are your opinions on Harry Maguire? Let me know in the comments!