Manchester United started the new season in the same fashion they ended the previous one as they succumbed to humiliating defeats at the hands of Brighton and Brentford.
Erik ten Hag was forced to tweak his system and make personnel changes and since then, United have completed a mini-revival and are currently on a four-match winning streak in the league.
Maguire’s fall from grace
However, those tweaks have had a few casualties and one of the prominent names who has found himself out of favour under the Dutch manager is club captain Harry Maguire.
He has started three times in the current campaign, and the statistics make for grim reading. United have lost all of those games while conceding seven times including the 0-4 hammering at the hands of the Bees.
Apart from the Real Sociedad game, the England skipper has been on the pitch for a grand total of 11 minutes, which includes a 1 minute cameo against Sheriff Tiraspol, where he should have started.
🏴 Harry Maguire this season:
👤 4 apps
📉 4 losses
❌ 8 goals conceded
🧢 Picked for England squad
Gareth Southgate, football genius 🤥 pic.twitter.com/uoZJhTw5hZ
— ODDSbible (@ODDSbible) September 15, 2022
Ten Hag clearly trusts his first-choice pairing of Raphael Varane and Lisandro Martinez to get the job done and that has meant that the the 29-year-old has had to be content with a place on the bench.
No one could have seen such a fall from grace coming after two great seasons at United and a starring role for the Three Lions at the last Euros. But a poor last season and the arrival of Martinez have played a major role.
Sources close to the former Leicester City centre-back have told ESPN that he has not been helped by his fellow players and coaches and that has led to this dramatic dip in form.
“Harry needs pace around him, but he hasn’t had that. If you put [Man City’s] Ruben Dias in the United defence and Harry in the City back-four, Dias would struggle and Harry would thrive.
“Harry hasn’t had a good 12 months, but he hasn’t been helped by those around him — coaches or players — so it’s inevitable that his confidence and form have suffered.”
DDG blamed by camp Maguire
One player who has been name-checked by Maguire’s camp is goalkeeper David de Gea. The Spaniard has also struggled to adjust to Ten Hag’s methods and has continued to be a liability when it has come to using his feet and coming off the line.
“Sources have said that Maguire’s frustrations with goalkeeper David de Gea‘s communication and reluctance to defend further away from his goal-line were also a factor in the overall malaise in defence last season.
“That issue has been improved by Argentina defender Martinez’s arrival from Ajax and his ability to communicate with, and instruct, De Gea in Spanish,” the ESPN article further reiterated.
The only reason why De Gea has continued to start is because of the lack of a quality alternative, something that might be rectified going forward.
As for Maguire, his chance to impress Ten Hag will come though the familiar route of international football. If he can impress against Italy and Germany, United’s manager might opt to start him in Europa League games.
Maguire is going through one of his most difficult patches and the timing could not have been worse with the World Cup just a couple of months away.
The next three months could prove decisive whether the club captain is forced to jump ship or whether he can continue on the same boat.