Harry Maguire will not look back at the 2021-22 season fondly. While the entire Manchester United squad had a season to forget, the club captain bore the brunt of the criticism due to his disastrous displays against the likes of Liverpool and Manchester City as well as his off-field interviews wherein he absolved himself of the blame and even went on to say his form was quite good.
It was anything but with interim manager Ralf Rangnick even dropping him from the firing line in April. Fans especially did not like the way his displays led to the sacking of club legend Ole Gunnar Solskjaer with many fans and pundits calling for him to be stripped of the captain’s armband.
Reports of dressing room unrest with players not too happy with the England skipper’s form, and leaked stories of a power struggle involving Cristiano Ronaldo and the former Leicester City man added more fuel to the fire.
Harry Maguire is determined to get Man United back to winning trophies 💪 pic.twitter.com/NojujtTNNq
— ESPN UK (@ESPNUK) July 17, 2022
But the 29-year-old has left that in the past and is looking forward to the new season under Erik ten Hag. The new manager has already given him a vote of confidence by choosing to keep him on as skipper.
During a Q/A session with fans in Australia, the England international admitted that his form was not up to scratch last season and that he is hoping to make amends and help United get back to winning silverware again.
“Listen, last year was disappointing. As an individual, I didn’t play well and as a team we certainly didn’t play well. But a good career can last 10 to 15 years and you’re never going to have every year where it’s plain sailing and you don’t have any difficulties.
“You’re going to have to fight, you’re going to have setbacks and last year was certainly a setback for myself on my career path but it’s behind us now and we look forward to the future and getting this club back to winning trophies, which is what it’s all about.”
Can Maguire retain first-team status?
The impending arrival of Lisandro Martinez from Ajax might not be music to the ears of the £80 million defender. He has played the majority of his career as the left-sided centre-half but Martinez is likely to play on that side.
That leaves Maguire fighting with Victor Lindelof, Raphael Varane and Eric Bailly for the other spot. The Sheffield-born defender’s first appearance on tour did not go as planned as he started on the right. Melbourne Victory scored off a counter-attack with Maguire struggling to run back and cut out the final pass, much to the displeasure of the boss.
The Dutchman’s style of play involves high-pressing and keeping possession of the ball and playing a high line. And recovery pace will be crucial in that case, something Maguire is not known for having.
Pre-season training has been intense so far but he is still looking forward to working with the former Ajax boss and knows the importance of impressing the manager, especially following the chastening experience of last season.
“It’s been tough. The running has been hard but we’re really looking forward to the season. Everyone – the players, the club – know last year was nowhere near good enough but it’s a fresh start and we’ve got a big season ahead.
“Erik and his coaching staff are bringing their ideas and in the first two games, you’ve seen little glimpses of the principals. We’re working towards being ready for that first Premier League game, that’s what matters. Everything we’re doing now is building for that first game.”
Fans and Ten Hag will be hoping Maguire can rediscover the form that he displayed during England’s Euro 2020 run to the final where he was named in the team of the tournament.